4. Astronomy and print, Fine art, Prints, drawings and watercolours, Popular Astronomy, Astronomical and navigational instruments

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The Theory of the Seasons and Signs of the Zodiac

4. Astronomy and print

Object details:

Object ID AST0051.1
Description One of a set of 12 hand-tinted astronomical prints with an explanatory card. The publisher is identified on each print as J. Reynolds or James Reynolds of the Strand, London. These cards were first issued by Reynolds in 1846, although he and other publishers continued to produce them throughout the second half of the 19th century. They responded to a perceived market for popular science products and were intended for informal learning within the home. They could be bought in sets or singly and, at a price of 1 shilling, were affordable to middle class audiences. A number of the cards have tissue paper backings and holes in the card in order to allow the user to hold them up to the light and see the stars, planets or phases of the Moon displayed as light areas against a darker background. Several of the more detailed images were drawn and engraved by John Emslie, who also collaborated with Reynolds on another set of diagrams, "Illustrations of Natural Philosophy". Reynolds’ educational diagrams received a prize medal at the International Exhibition of 1862. The main diagram shows the Earth's annual rotation around the Sun, surrounded by a zodiacal scale that gives the names, symbols and images of the signs of the zodiac. The seasons and the positions of the equinoxes and solstices are marked. Text at the corners describes the Zodiac and the Earth, and a longer text at the bottom explains the Phenomena of the Seasons.
Date made 1846-1860

Artist/Maker Reynolds, James
Place made London
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials paper; engraving
Measurements 292 x 235 mm
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