Sundials, Astronomical and navigational instruments

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Horizontal dial

AST0531
Sundials

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Object details:

Object ID AST0531
Description Horizontal dial for latitude 48° North. This dial is in the form of a gold signet ring. It has a gold acanthus design with a black enamel fill. There are gold scallops around the signet, which has a repeating wheatsheaf design along its edge. The seal has a design with 'MIMR' above and two letters to the sides (possibly 'HR'). The lid covering the dial has a milled edge. Inside, it is engraved with the initials 'H C', stars and a flower. On the dial, the hour-lines radiate from a point below the compass. The gnomon is missing but was probably just a string gnomon. The compass is surmounted by a cylindrical pivot set with a diamond (?) and a glass plate covers all. The ring has a push-button clasp and there is a hallmark on the inside rim. A similar dial in the Whipple Museum (accession no. Wh: 1714), also marked 'HC', is dated 1568. Signet ring dials were in vogue during the 16th and 17th centuries and the British Museum has an important collection of them. For more information regarding this dial please refer to the OUP & NMM catalogue, 'Sundials at Greenwich'.
Date made Mid to late 16th century

Artist/Maker Unknown
Place made Geneva
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials gold; glass; enamel
Measurements Diameter: 24 mm (Signet: 15.5 x 13.5 mm)
Parts
  • Horizontal dial (AST0531)
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