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English Universal Equinoctial Horizontal Sundial.Compass


Offered for sale is an Antique English Universal Equinoctial Horizontal Compass Sundial in a wood case, with a silvered latitude arc and hour dial, spring loaded gnomon, scale of latitudes in a folding mahogany case, measuring 3 1/2" wide in outstanding condition, and engraved with hours on the hour ring with hours IIII to IIX and I to VIII, and )-60 minutes on the arc; with recessed silvered compass with silvered ring marked 0-360 degrees, with shut off lever on the base for locking the compass. 0205

Provenance: Christie's Auction, So. Kensington June, 1992

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

HISTORY: For thousands of years humans have recognized the passage of time, whether through the cycle of night and day or by the passing of the seasons. Our current method of timekeeping, which uses a 60-second minute, a 60-minute hour and a day divided into two 12 hour periods, originated over 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt (Barnett 1998: 102).

The Ancient Egyptians built great obelisks to track the sun, creating the first sundials. In 600 BC, philosopher and astronomer Anaximander is said to have introduced the sundial to Greece and from there it grew in popularity and was the most trusted timekeeping device for centuries (Ostler 2003). Sundials still remained in use even with the invention of mechanical clocks, as early clocks were notoriously inaccurate and had to be regularly calibrated using a sundial. Around 1600, English mathematician William Oughtred invented the ring dial, a small portable sundial that quickly came into common use throughout Europe (Chandler and Vincent 1967: 156).

It consists of a brass ring which, when suspended vertically and oriented towards the sun, can be used to determine the time of day (Eden and Lloyd 1900: 188) (Figure 2). The interior surface of the ring has numbers corresponding to the hours of the day and the exterior has letters corresponding to the months of the year. A narrow band of brass slides along a groove set in the exterior surface of the ring. The movable band has a hole in it, which can be aligned with the letters, or months, on the exterior of the ring. The hole in the band allows sunlight to pass through and strike the numbers on the interior surface indicating the time of day (Stephens 1851: 52).

Provenance: A private collection. This is an authentic antique sundial. This is an original piece! We guarantee the authenticity of this item.

Shipping to the Continental United States and worldwide. 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:

Horizontal Sundial:

Horizontal Sundial: the common or compass/sundial with a horizontal dial plate and polar-pointing gnomon.

Latitude: is the angular position of a place north or south of the equator. Positive values in the Northern hemisphere, negative in the Southern hemisphere.

Style Height / Style Angle (SH): of a polar style is the angle that the style makes with the sub-style line.

Sub-Style (line): the line lying in the dial plane which is perpendicularly below (or behind for a vertical dial) the style.

Hour Line: the line on a dial plate indicating the shadow position at a particular time (includes fractional as well as whole hours).

Hour Angle (h, HA): the angle corresponding to the sun's position around its daily (apparent) orbit. Measured westward from local noon, it increases at a rate of 15° per hour. Thus 3 pm (Local Apparent Time) is 45° and 9 am is -45°.

Hour Line Angle (X, HLA): the angle that an hour line on a dial plate makes with the noon line. For a horizontal dial, the angle increases clockwise.

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  • Model: Eng.Uni.Equi.Horizontal Sundial

This product was added to our catalog on Monday 13 October, 2014.

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