Astronomical compendium

Astronomical compendium for latitude 49° North (vertical dial). It is divided into six leaves. Leaf Ia features a windrose with 16 points marked; eight of them named in German. Pivoted at the centre of the leaf is a hand-shaped indicator and at the North point is a circular hole for viewing the compass. On leaf Ib is the vertical dial, with an hour circle, and the dial for the length of day, with hour-lines drawn horizontally and the signs of the zodiac also marked. The gnomons for use with these dials are missing. Leaf IIa is empty, but would once have contained a compass and possibly also a horizontal dial. Leaf IIb displays the lunar volvelle. On leaf IIIa is the snake mark of Hans Ducher and a stamp of approval. The leaf is inscribed around the edges 'COMPASSVS PROPE FERRVM NON REGE ASSIGNARE POTEST' (The compass cannot indicate correctly when near iron). On leaf IIIb are two inscriptions: one similar to the inscription on leaf IIIa, and the other: 'DER SPOTER.SOL.NICHTS.VERACHTEN.DEN ER KANS BESSER MACHEN' (The critic should despise nothing unless he can make it better).

Hans Ducher was unusual among the Nuremberg dial makers in that he occasionally worked in brass as well as in ivory. This compendium is very similar in style to the diptych dials that Ducher produced. Like his diptychs, this compendium includes some instructions for its use. It is signed 'H D 1.5.97' on leaf IIIa.

For more information regarding this dial please refer to the OUP & NMM catalogue, 'Sundials at Greenwich'.

Object Details

ID: AST0453
Collection: Astronomical and navigational instruments
Type: Astronomical compendium
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Ducher, Hans
Date made: 1597
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Overall: 15 x 49 x 72 cm

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