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Signed by Egnatio Danti
circa 1570; Florence
Gilt brass; 410 mm in diameter

This magnificent gilt instrument is one of the finest Italian astrolabes to have survived from the Renaissance. There are no separate plates, but a projection for the latitude of Florence has been engraved in the mater. Engraved there is the name of the celebrated cosmographer Egnatio Danti. Danti was an astronomer and cartographer in the service of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In a book on the astrolabe, published in Florence in 1569, he recommends the type of universal projection found on the back of this instrument, and also advises the reader to make one in order to understand it fully.

Some of the features of this astrolabe, such as Mediterranean wind names at the cardinal points on the limb and an adjustable scale of Italian hours, are not common, but are appropriate to an Italian instrument.

Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Inventory number 52209

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