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Mining Instruments
16th century; German
Wood and brass; 270 mm in width

The central component of the set has two inset compasses on a base decorated with strapwork, beneath which is a wooden filling. Three concentric circular scales on the disc have the same primary divisions but are differently numbered. The outermost is 0 to 48, divided to 1, subdivided to 1/2 and to 1/4, numbered by 1; the middle 0 to 24, similarly divided and numbered; the innermost 0 to 12 twice, similarly divided and numbered. The four cardinal directions are marked 'MITTAG', 'NIDERGANG', 'MITNACHT' and 'AVFGANG'.

A simple tapering pointer fits the disc, running from the centre to the edge, and then extends to a universal pivot for an eye to attach a line. An alternative attachment incorporates a pointer, a plumb-line and a vertical semicircle: a pillar rises from the centre, with an index at its base, and three arms extending from supports on the pillar, the outer two carrying a vertical arc of 120 degrees, the central one an index moving over this arc with a hook at the end for a line. The arc has a scale between the vertical points, 12 to 0 to 12, divided to 1, subdivided to 1/2 and to 1/4, numbered by 1. At the top of the pillar is a finial and a suspension for a plumb-line hanging between two rings and extending to a target, all supported from the pillar.

There is a smaller horizontal disc, with divisions similar to the larger one, and the cardinal directions similarly marked, with an index arm. There is a disc with a centrally pivoted arm for calculating or plotting, with circular scales divided similarly to the other two. There is a brass lantern, probably for a candle, with a pivoted attachment for a line, and a smaller lantern. There is a triangular plumb-line frame with hooks on the base of the triangle, for suspending from a line, and a turned brass bob for a plumb-line.

A fitted case is covered with brown leather, with decorative gold tooling; the interior is lined with chamois leather.

Jim Bennett

Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze
Inventory no. 2538

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