Refractive sundial, 1578
Photo courtesy of American...
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Photo courtesy of American Philosophical Society

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The sundial is a wide, shallow dish of gilded metal, elevated on three slender rods above a raised, round, gilded base. The surface of that stepped base is covered with low-relief ornament of figures and fantastic animals. The dish that forms the sundial has a shallow well surrounded by a narrow rim. The rim is engraved with linear ornament and edged with raised mouldings. The interior of the well is engraved with Roman and Arabic numerals, astrological and other symbols, and an elaborate system of lines. The mechanism that reads the position of the sun is a cast figure of a man, positioned along the rim of the bowl, holding in his hand a slender rod. A fine cord tied in the center of the bowl's well runs to the tip of the man's rod, passes through the tip, and hangs by a weight.

Engraved on the bottom of the bowl: CHRISTOPHORUS SCHISSLER GEOMETRICUS AC ASTRONOMICUS ARTIFEX AUGUSTAE VINDELICORUM FACIBAT ANNO 1578 (Christopher Schissler, skilled geometer and astronomer, made (this) at Augsburg in 1578). Terms of Use Credits