A PAIR OF 16TH-CENTURY GERMAN GILT-BRASS COMPASSES
A PAIR OF 16TH-CENTURY GERMAN GILT-BRASS COMPASSES

signed and dated 'C.S.S. 1587' [Christoph Schissler Senior]

Details
A PAIR OF 16TH-CENTURY GERMAN GILT-BRASS COMPASSES
signed and dated 'C.S.S. 1587' [Christoph Schissler Senior]
An attractive feature of this instrument is the miniature globe that forms part of the joint. It is engraved with the equator, tropics, arctic circle and ecliptic circle. The equator is marked every 10 to 360, and the ecliptic is marked with the signs of the Zodiac. When closed, the upper part of the legs form a square-sectioned column, which leads to a baluster, with iron points at the ends of the legs. All the letters, numbers and zodiac signs are punched.

The column is punched on the outside in four panels with the Four Seasons, Four Elements, Four Humours, Four Properties and the Zodiac:

1. GLNTZ LVFT SANGVI:
WARM VND FEYCHT
ARIES TAURUS GEMINI

2. SVMER FEVR COLERI:
WARM VND TRVCKEN
CANCER LEO VIRGO

3. HRBST ERD MELANC:
KALT VND TRVCKEN:
LIBRA SCORPI SAGITA:

4. WINTER WASSER FLEGMAN:
KALT VND FEYCHT
CAPRIC: AQVAR PISCES

The legs open out to reveal two sets of scales, with the maker's initials and date by the hinge. The upper pair of panels form a vertical sundial divided into six parts, with a small hole at the top centre of each panel to hold a horizontal pin gnomon. At the bottom of each of the six parts are punched the zodiac signs to show the period of the year for use, and above are the curves of the hour lines labelled with the hours from 6a.m. to 6p.m. The panels are marked, as appropriate 'WINTER THAIL SVMER THAIL; STVND NACH MITTAG STVND VOR MITTAG'.

Below the sundial panels are two altitude scales. One is marked 'SCALA ALTIMETRA', with a hole for the pin (as used for the gnomon) that casts a shadow, and a linear scale marked from 3 to 24 in threes. This scale is equivalent to a shadow square, and measures Umbra versa.

The other scale is marked 'SCALA ALTITVDINVM SOLIS', with a hole for the pin at the top and a non-linear scale labelled from 10 to 65. This is for measuring the height of the sun in degrees.
7 in. (19.2 cm.) long closed
Provenance
Rothschild inv. no. AR3104.
Literature
M. Bobinger, Alt-Augsburger Kompassmacher, Augsburg, 1966, p. 323, fig. 230.

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:

M. Bobinger, Alt-Augsburger Kompassmacher, Augsburg, 1966, pp. 299-344.
Idem, Kunstuhrmacher in Alt-Augsburg, Augsburg, 1969, pp. 18-19, 54.
E. Zinner, Deutsche und niederlndische astronomische Instrumente des 11.-18. Jahrhunderts, Munich, 1956, reprinted 1979, pp. 503-20.

Lot Essay

Christoph Schissler

Christoph Schissler (c. 1531-1608) was a renowned preciosion instrument maker of Augsburg, and produced a large copper globe with clockwork for Tycho Brahe. The workshop had an immense production, specialising in sundials, astronomical compendia, gunners' compendia and armillary spheres. A Schissler compendium at the Museumk of the History of Science, Oxford, contains an astrolabe, quadrant, sundial, calculating tables, weather vane and a map of central Europe. Hans Christoph Schissler joined his father's workshop in 1580, and the two men distinguished their work by adding after their name 'Senior' or 'Junior'. In 1591, Hans Schissler moved to Prague.

see also:

M. Bobinger, Alt-Augsburger Kompassmacher, Augsburg, 1966, pp. 299-344.
Idem, Kunstuhrmacher in Alt-Augsburg, Augsburg, 1969, pp. 18-19, 54.
E. Zimmer, Deutsche und niederlndische astronomische Instrumente des 11.-18. Jahrhunderts, Munich, 1956, reprinted 1979, pp. 503-20.
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