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Instrument type

16th century; German
Gilt brass; 65 mm in diameter

The compass is similar in script and decoration to a protractor by David Usslaub (Epact no. 12362), with which it can be associated.

The compass is fitted in the centre of a round brass plate, itself fixed to a decorated and pierced rectangular base. The round plate is divided in the limb with a scale of degrees, divided to 5 and to 1 degree, numbered from 5 to 360 by 5. The cardinal points are engraved 'Mittag', 'Morgen', 'Mitternacht', 'Abend' in Gothic script. The names of 32 main directions are also engraved in German. The compass has a wind rose with 16 directions, 8 of which are indicated with the initials, with the card painted in blue, yellow and red.

The rectangular base of the compass is richly decorated with scrollwork, and with two exotic male figures (gnomes?) holding fruit baskets.

The back of the instrument is blank. The compass has a lid decorated with scrollwork and the names of 16 directions engraved in German.

Ilaria Meliconi

Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze
Inventory no. 3182

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