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

The instruments are arranged in three fitted wooden trays, which slide together, the sliding lid is missing.

In the top tray is a hanging triangular level with two hooks, a shaped cross-piece has the suspension hole for the plumb-line and a restraining ring near the apex. Another accessory in the case may be the plumb-line.

The largest piece has an upright round-section rod with a screw fitting at the bottom; on this rod pivots a shaped square-section upright rod. To the square rod are attached two arms leading to either end of an arc containing most of a circle, with the semicircle between the vertical points having scales on both faces 12 to 1 to 12, divided to 1, subdivided to 1/2 and to 1/4, numbered by 1. A third, central arm extends from the square rod to the centre of the divided arc and here is pivoted a turned arm extending to a pierced, heart-shaped index moving on the arc, and beyond this to a hook for a line (not extant). From the top of the square rod rises a short turned pillar and a curved rod ending in the head of a dragon, whose tongue is a hook for a plumb-line. The plumb-bob hangs inside a cage formed from twisted columns and round top and bottom plates which rotate with the arc about the round rod. Also attached to the square rod is an open rectangle on an arm; this is an index for the circular base plate, which is stowed separately in the middle tray. This base plate is a brass disc on a round wooden base. The disc has two inset compasses in ivory rings; both are glazed, but the glass has become opaque, one is broken and a needle partly visible beneath. On the edge of the disc is marked the 4 cardinal points, 'MITNACHT', 'MORGEN', 'MITAG', 'AWENT'. There are three divided circles, the outermost 0 to 48, divided to 1, subdivided to 1/2 and 1/4, numbered by 1. Next 0 to 24, then 1 to 12, both similarly divided and numbered. When the top part is fitted, the screw extends beneath the wooden base.

The top tray also has a small lantern has six twisted uprights, slightly converging to an upper disc with a finial, and a hook for the other end of the line extending from the lower disc above a screw fitting. This tray also has the first element in the measuring staff, this first section having a turned end or foot on the end with the female thread. The male end has 3 strokes for matching to the next section of the staff.

The middle tray has two spaces, one of which is now empty; the other holds the compass described above.

The lowest tray has 11 further screw-fit elements of two measuring rods: three are without male screw fittings and two of these terminate in pyramidal ends instead, one has a male screw but no female. Four elements are part silvered and have parts of a linear scale.

Jim Bennett

Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze
Inventory no. 683

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