Portable Equatorial Sundial And Compass, 1748
Gilt and engraved brass, cut and blued steel, glass.
Gift of the Estate of James Hazen Hyde. 1960-1-12.
- Made by Jacob Emanuel Laminit
What is this?
Scrolled square frame with animal allegories of the Four Continents: camel, horse, lion and monkey; hinged quadrant, hour circle with gnomon and pendulum; in center, recessed circular box with compass needle, the face engraved with mermaid and triton; set on three adjustable legs.
Why is this important?
Sundials, which measure time by the sun’s angle, are not usually portable, whereas compasses often are. This pocket-size combination instrument tells time and direction. It is part equatorial sundial, which has a flat surface aligned with the celestial equator, and part gnomon compass, which consists of an angled piece perpendicular to the surface directed to the North or South celestial Pole. Such a device was also a status symbol: the small size, technological complexity, and classical decoration indicate it was a prized personal accessory in Augsburg, Germany, a center of scientific learning and instrument making in the eighteenth-century. The allegorical representations of the four continents at the corners and a mermaid and Nep¬tune engraved on the steel face suggest a learned owner and virtuoso creator. Maker Jacob Emanuel Laminit, who became a master goldsmith in 1748, applied his skills to this bronze sundial-compass at the height of fashion for such accessories.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: