Diptych Sundial by Melchoir Karner

Diptych Sundial by Melchoir Karner

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This ivory diptych dial has on the top of the lid (side Ia) a wind rose with a brass pointer and 32 directions of wind indicated. These are named in groups of four with the names of the Mediterranean winds in Italian. There is a hole in the side for a wind vane, but no wind vane. Several of the points of the wind rose are labeled in German. A hole in the lid reveals the tip of the compass below, allowing one to orient the wind rose. The inside lid (side Ib) has a pin gnomon with three sets of scales. The first set, colored black, is labeled from 16 down to 8 on the left and from 8 up to 16 on the right. Alternate black lines are marked with signs of the zodiac colored in red, six signs on one side and seven signs on the other (the top line has a lamb on both sides). Below this are several holes for inserting the string gnomon at different latitudes. This dial also has a set of red lines, ranging from 13 to 24, for Italian hours and a set of green lines ranging from 1 to 11, for Babylonian hours. Engraved above these scales is an image of a smiling sun in red and green. Engraved below this is an image of a village. Below this is a list of cities and their latitudes.
On the base of the instrument (side IIa) is a horizontal sundial, with a compass with a paper sheet in the compass bowl that gives the four cardinal directions and shows images of the four winds. There appear to be two faint lines for magnetic declinations of very roughly 5 and 10 degrees east of north. The compass bowl is surrounded by hour scales for latitudes 39, 42, 45, 48, 51, and 54. In front are two small pin gnomon dials. The one on the left runs clockwise from 10 to 23 and is for Italian hours. The one on the right runs clockwise 1 to 14 (Babylonian hours, reckoned from sunrise). The scales are surrounded by green and brown floral designs. On the bottom of the instrument (side IIb) is a rotating brass disc with pointer.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Sundial, Horizontal Portable
Date made
Karner, Melchior
overall: 2 cm x 8.5 cm x 12 cm; 25/32 in x 3 11/32 in x 4 23/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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