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18 Angle Divisor

image of Angle Divisor

image of Angle Divisor

image of Angle Divisor

One of the rarer, early modern mathematical instruments bears the name ‘radio latino’, a device with a variety of purported uses, from laying out regular polygons to calibrating artillery. Perhaps it's the unusual name - or its occasional ‘packaging’ as a folding device within a courtly sword or dagger - that originally caught my eye. Ever on the lookout for objects related to ones now missing from the Dresden collection, I was struck by coming across something with a similar form in a do-it-yourself store outside Chicago. While the packaging is not exactly fit for a prince (and various scales, sights, and a compass are lacking, in comparison with the 16th-century prototype), the instrument seems to have survived the transfer into this new context quite intact.

The close relationship between the modern ‘Tool Shop Angle Divisor’ and the 16th-century ‘radio latino’ is evident from their instruction diagrams. The modern image is from the back of the packaging you see here, while the other image comes from Egnatio Danti (1536-1586) and Latino Orsini (c.1530-c.1580), Trattato del radio latino (Rome, 1583).

Collection: Michael Korey, Dresden

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