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Premier Cadran Butterfield Type Horizontal Dial


Offered for sale is a 'Premier Cadran' Butterfield Type Semi-Universal Horizontal Dial, octagon in shape, measuring 3" x 2 1/2" in size, in a fitted case. It is marked with Roman Numeral Hour Scales and is marked for a specific latitude. The Roman Numeral Scale is IV-XII and I - VIII. It has an insert compass and an adjustable gnomon. The gnomon is marked with a latitude scale and it can move within the bird index which marks the latitude angle against the scale.

The fact that Butterfield used a bird-shaped pointer on the gnomon probably made his sundials highly fashionable and he soon achieved an almost monopolistic situation on the market~~often to be copied by competitors of the time. The typical blade gnomon with latitude scale and the bird's beak shaped pointer is noted in the photo.

The sundials' components: The Gnomon – Blade, Pin or String

The hour is told by the shadow of a device called a gnomon. There are three different types:

Pin Gnomons are fixed – whereas, blade and string gnomons can be fixed or adjustable. On fixed gnomons, the pitch or angle is the latitude at which the sundial was made. Sundials used at higher latitudes have a steep angle. Sundials used near the equator – or lower latitudes have a shallow angle.

- Adjustable Gnomons can range anywhere from 0° to 90° (example: Barker, above).

- String Gnomons - The string can be fixed for one mean latitude or adjustable (example: German sundial above).

Fixed Blade Gnomons usually have a simple hinge to lay them on the side when closed. Their slope is a mean value for a limited area (Mediterranean, Central Europe) and doesn't allow precise time telling.

Adjustable Blade Gnomons: Such gnomons generally consist of an adjustable quadrant engraved on one side of a folding hinged blade gnomon supported by a bird-shaped fitting (duckling). The dial chapter includes several (2-4) sets of engraved or painted scales alternating in Roman and Arabic numeral made for different latitudes. This sundial type is adjustable for latitude by increasing or decreasing the angle of the blade gnomon against the bird's beak . The shadow's border line on one of the appropriate dials for the different latitudes determines the actual time.

The compass: Pocket sundials incorporate a very simple recessed compass.

The Latitude Scale: On nautical or professional equinoctial compasses for explorers, which have to be usable in the entire world, the latitude scale must be representative of any location on Earth. It is thus graduated from 0° to 90°, covering a full hemisphere.

On pocket sun watches, it just needs to cover the area in which it is intended to be used. The span typically measures hence only about 20 degrees in Europe (38-56 on the German compass above). This is enough to cover a zone reaching from Portugal to Scotland or 30-50 in the US (New Orleans to Quebec).

Google research into the meaning of 'Premier Cadran' refers to the first chapter ring, which means that the inner chapter ring is valid for the cities written in the disc.

History of Sundials: A sundial is a device that tells time using the position of the Sun, or more precisely using its hour angle, or sometimes its altitude. Known since the most ancient times, it spread from the renaissance to the 19th century and then slowly became obsolete, due to the growing success of horology. People started to be interested again by sundials after the 1980s and this subject is today very popular.

Studying sundials will allow you to discover various disciplines: history, techniques of art (fresco, engraving, etc.), philosophy of mottoes, celestial mechanics, etc.

Understanding sundials: It is possible to design a sundial on any support (plane, cylindrical, spherical...), of any orientation and for any location. This web site shows several types of sundials but other types exist, sometimes more exotic than useful. The layout of a sundial (lines, arcs, texts) can be very diverse and can provide all kinds of information: solar time, civil time, season, date, Sun's declination, hour of sunrise or sunset, hour of another city, ...

Solar time: Solar time is directly derived from the Sun's position, by counting one hour of time every 15° of hour angle as Earth is rotating around its axis in 24 hours, which gives 360°/24 h = 15°/hour.

On a sundial, the noon line corresponds to the moment of culmination of the Sun, when it crosses the local meridian. This line is always contained in the North-South plane and is always vertical on a vertical sundial, regardless of its orientation. This sort of time depends on the location, i.e. on its longitude.

Longitude correction: All European countries use the same time zone, called CET (Central European Time), except United Kingdom, Ireland and Portugal which use the WET (West European Time) and some countries in the East of Europe which use the EET (Eastern European Time). Countries based on the CET time zone are located between the western part of Spain, with Vigo, and the Polish border in the East, meaning that they represent a range of 2 hours of solar time. For a city located at the east of the CET meridian, hour is shifted towards morning (sunrise and sunset are earlier). For cities located at the west of the CET meridian, hour is shifted towards evening (sunrise and sunset are later).

One shall calculate the longitude correction for its location, by comparing its longitude to the reference meridian (CET meridian is 15° East). Elsewhere on Earth, people shall know where is their reference meridian. The correction, for example, for Besançon, France (6° 02' East) will give: 15° - (6° 02') = 8° 58', meaning (8+58/60)*4 min = 35 min 52 s of time. When the Sun is at the South, in Besançon, it already passed 36 minutes ago at the South of the reference meridian. For a city at the East of this meridian, the correction will be negative (for example, for Warsaw, Poland (21° East), the correction is -24 minutes, so noon at Warsaw means 11 h 36 min at the CET meridian.

Lit: Early Scientific Instruments by R. H. Nuttall, PhD, Pub: Charles Frank Limited,Glasgow; Encyclopedia of Antique Scientific Instruments by John Fitz Maurice Mills, Aurum Press, 1983

Shipping: FREE to the United States. We also will ship worldwide.

Shipping to the Continental United States is FREE. Please look at the picture and read the description, which form a part of the condition description. What you see and what you read is what you are buying

International purchasers should contact sellers at: CAPTAINMADISON@ATT.NET for a shipping and insurance quote to your address and country. International purchasers should appreciate that the Customs Dept. of your country may assess duties, taxes and/or other charges on your purchase as it enters your country, which expenses are not part of the purchase price for this item and remains the sole expense of the purchaser.

This product would make a wonderful addition to any scientific instrument or sundial collection when displayed in a prominent place, being a grand collectible item that would adorn any serious collector's prized scientific instrument and sundial accumulations, while showing a discriminating dedication for fine sundials and other scientific instrument items as well as a devotion to acquiring fine collectibles.

Sellers exclusively use the USPS as its' shipper (insurance available).

Please email sellers to: CAPTAINMADISON@ATT.NET for purchasing, payment, shipping arrangements, requests for more photos, as well as any other inquiries.

Payments may be made by check (must clear), bank checks, postal or bank money orders, Western Union money transfers, pre-payment arrangements, good old U.S. Dollars (green currency), and/or other secure money transfers or payments.

Please regularly visit our other web sites for more sundials and scientific instruments and related products as we shall regularly be adding more products from time to time:

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  • Model: Premier Cadran Butterfield Type

This product was added to our catalog on Monday 17 February, 2014.

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