Although unsigned, this rare armillary sphere is in the unmistakable style of Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr (1671-1750), whose stands and horizon circles varied little across his whole output. It certainly comes from his workshop and resembles two other examples sold in these rooms in 1998 and 2001. Reissues of his globes by Jenig (and the 2001 armillary) are signed on the reverse of the meridian rings. The current example seems to be an intermediary state between the two.
The armillary sphere is a demonstrational model of the universe. Composed of several rings (Armillae in Latin) and a band for the Zodiac, it represents the apparent movement of the celestial sphere around the Earth and marks the Sun's annual progress around the ecliptic. Their use can be traced back to antiquity and the handful of earliest extant examples date from the Middle Ages. But it was in the 16th through 18th centuries that their construction reached a peak and they became such iconic instruments of science. Elaborate and decorative examples were made for princely collections and they became symbolic of astronomy in paintings and engravings of the time.