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Instrument type

Wind Vane
circa 1590; German
Gilt brass; 195 x 50 mm

The wind vane consists of a gilt brass plate mounted on four feet.

In the centre of the plate is a compass with the cardinal points marked 'SE:', 'OR:', 'ME:', 'OC'. The compass box is cup shaped and has an engraved rim; it is mounted above the plate and is surmounted by a decorated tripod stand. The stand has a central hole in which the wind vane support locates.

The plate is richly engraved. Close to the centre are representations of the four elements, inscribed 'ERDE', 'FEVR', 'LVFT', 'WASSER', inside a four-pointed star. Between the pointers the four temperaments are inscribed, '[star] MELANCOLICVS [star]', '[star] COLERICVS [star] [star]', '[star] SAN{G}VINICVS [star] [star]', 'FLEGMATICVS [star] [star]'. On the sides of the engraved octagon are 16 triangles, engraved with the names of the winds and the weather associated with them. The inscriptions are 'NORD MITNACHT BRINGT TEMPERIERT WETER DEM MENSCHEN GESVNDER LVFT BOREAS', 'AQVILO BRINGT KALT VND TRHKEN GESVND [star] WETTER [star]', 'NORD OST BRINGT SCH?N WARM VND AVCH KALDT GESVNDES WETER [star] [star] [star]', 'CECIAS BRINGT SEER TRVCKEN VND WARM [star] WETER [star]', 'OST MORGEN BRINGT SCH?N HAIS AVCH KALT VND GE:SVND TRVCK WETER SVBSOLA:<NVS> [star]', 'VOL:TVRNVS BRINGT SCH?N VN DAS ALLER GESVNDEST [star] WETER [star]', 'SVD OST BRINGT TEMPERIERT WETER DEM MENACHEN MITEL MESS: WETER [star] [star] [star]', 'EVRO AVSTER BRINGT MITEL MESSIG WARM VND FEV[umlaut]CHT WET: [star] ER [star]', 'SVD MITTAG BRINGT WOLCKEN WARM VND FE[Vumlaut]CHT FLISSIG VND GESVND WETTER AVSTER [star]', 'LIBO:NOTVS BRINGT WARM VND FE[Vumlaut]CHT DEM MENSCHEN VIL KRANCK: HEIT', 'SVD WEST BRINGT VIL REGEN VND SCNHE MITEL 3VR GESVND: HEIT [star] [star] [star]', 'APHRI:CVS BRINGT KALT VND FE[Vumlaut]CHT WE:TER DEM ALTER SCH?D:LICH', 'WEST ABENT BRINGT KALT FE[Vumlaut]CHT NEBEL TAGS GESVNDER WETER DAN 3V NACHT FAVONIVS [star] [star] [star]', 'CORVS BRINGT NEBEL KLAR SCH?N VND GESVND [star] WETER [star]', 'NORD WEST BRINGT STVRM WIIND MIT REGEN [star] [star] [star]', 'CIRCIVS BRINGT HAGEL VN:SCHNE THV: DEN MENSCHEN TRVCKNEN'. The plate rests on four feet in the shape of putti blowing. One has been replaced and another is missing. The Eight sides of the plate are engraved with the names of the intermediate directions, 'NORD WEST NORD', 'NORD OST NORD', 'OST NORD OST', 'OST SVD OST', 'SVD OST SVD', 'SVD WEST SVD', 'WEST SVD WEST', 'WEST NORD WEST'. The remaining space on the plate is filled with faces of putti blowing, painted in red, and cloud shaped decoration, filled with black paint or enamel. The bases of the feet are engraved in the shape of putti blowing.

The bottom part of the plate is simply decorated with a line.

The instrument was presented by Max Rosenheim in 1893 and is described in F. A. B. Ward, A Catalogue of European Scientific Instruments in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities of the British Museum (London, 1981), p.103, no.306.

Ilaria Meliconi

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1893, 10-6.1

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