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Gunnery Instrument
Signed by Baldassarre Lanci
Dated 1557; Italian
Gilt brass; 150 mm in diameter

A circular plate has a circle of named winds, each with a 45-degree scale, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 5. One quadrant has a scale outside the circle 0 to 45 to 0, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 5. On the rim of the disc is a scale for weights of shot, 0 to 100 decreasing. Within the circle of the winds is the signature 'BALTHASSAR LANC?V VRBINAL FACIEBAT ANNO ?A?N?D MDLVII'. The central area of the disc is filled with foliate decoration, while at the centre is a magnetic needle on a point pivot in a circular box, with a target line, initials of the winds and an unnumbered scale divided to 15 degrees, subdivided to 3 degrees.

The magnetic compass is set within the four leaves of a compass hinge for two large and elaborately shaped and pierced compass legs, curved and terminating in shaped points. One leg is fixed by rivets to the plate, the other pivots around the circle, with a pointer reading against the three scales. Towards the ends of both legs are solid sights above and feet underneath. Set on the moving leg, on a hinged mount, are the two uprights for a gunner's sight, level and clinometer, which can be secured in the upright position by two screws, or folded down, or removed by withdrawing the pin of the hinge. The uprights are joined above by a shaped and pierced brass arch, into which fits the vertical screw of the gunner's sight. The sight is moved in slots in the uprights, against a scale 0 to 45, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 5. On the other upright is a vertical hinge for a quadrant clinometer; the quadrant can fold across the sight to allow it to be folded down, but in use is set at right angles to it. It is decorated and initialled 'BL', and has a brass plumb-line moving across a degree scale 45 to 0 to 45, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 5. When the sight is screwed completely down, it forms the near sight when using the sights on the legs. The feet beneath the legs and one beneath the circular plate are contoured for sitting on a gun.

Jim Bennett

Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze
Inventory no. 682

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