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Portable Equatorial Sundial And Compass

This is a Sundial and Compass. It was made by Jacob Emanuel Laminit. It is dated 1748 and we acquired it in 1960. Its medium is gilt and engraved brass, cut and blued steel, glass. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

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 was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled A Portable Equatorial Sundial.

This object was donated by Estate of James Hazen Hyde. It is credited Gift of the Estate of James Hazen Hyde.

  • Sextant And Case (England)
  • sextant: brass, silver, glass; case: mahogany, brass, felt.
  • Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, 1980.0318.03.
  • 14.2012.23

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This object has not been digitized yet.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 2 x 6.4 x 6 cm (13/16 x 2 1/2 x 2 3/8 in.)

It is inscribed

Engraved signature, city and date: "J. E. L. Augspurge. 48", on back of compass.

Cite this object as

Portable Equatorial Sundial And Compass; Made by Jacob Emanuel Laminit (German, 1719–1760); Germany; gilt and engraved brass, cut and blued steel, glass; H x W x D: 2 x 6.4 x 6 cm (13/16 x 2 1/2 x 2 3/8 in.); Gift of the Estate of James Hazen Hyde; 1960-1-12

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Portable Equatorial Sundial And Compass |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 September 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>