163 of 520
Sorted by:
Instrument type

Signed by Christoph Trechsler
Dated 1584; German
Gilt brass; 38 mm in diameter

The compass consists of a circular brass bowl with a turned brass lid. The bowl is fixed to a base, one corner of which is marked 'C T / 1584', representing the signature of Christoph Trechsler. At the same corner are the remains of a pin which may have originally enabled the compass to pivot on a larger plate. Also fixed to the base is an upright piece which incorporates a sprung button, with a decoratively scrolled head. The purpose of this assembly is unclear, though it may have acted as some form of catch. The presence of the pin and the button, as well as the shape of the base, suggests that the compass was formerly part of a larger instrument, perhaps for surveying.

The compass is 38 mm in diameter. The compass card is printed and hand-coloured and is thought to be later than the remainder of the instrument. The compass rose divides the circle into 32, with a fleur-de-lys at north, names for the other three cardinal directions, and abbreviations for the next twelve principal directions. Around the circumference of the card are numerals for degrees [0] to 90 to 90 [sic, 0] to 90 to [0], numbered by 10. These numbers give only a rough indication and do not relate precisely to the compass's direction lines.

Formerly in the Michel Collection and then in the Billmeir Collection (accession no. 57-84/131).

Stephen Johnston

Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Inventory number 86517

© Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. All rights reserved. Information and images provided here may not be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the museum.

Basic URL:

|| Introduction || Essay || Museums || Bibliography || Conventions || Credits || Privacy || Help ||
|Catalogue entries |Handlist || Makers || Places || Articles || Glossary || Search || Home ||