Offered by Kollenburg Antiquairs BV
A carved bluestone pedestal, richly decorated with rocailles on all sides. Topped by a solid bronze sundial dating from around 1900 and featuring interlocking spheres. It is not unusual for the sphere to be of a later date: sundials such as these were made of iron during the eighteenth century and, because the sundials were placed outdoors, the original wrought-iron spheres rarely survived the hands of time.
The sundial is an instrument to calculate time using the sun’s changing position during the day. The instrument consists of a platform and a gnomon (a thin rod often shaped as an arrow). The shifting shadow cast by the gnomon onto the platform allows one to read solar time.
There are some limitations to reading time on a sundial. For example, to be accurate, the gnomon must be aligned with the earth’s axis. The changing of the seasons may cause the time indicated by the ‘shadow clock’ to deviate from the mean time, which is used for mechanical clocks. The time gap, which is the result of the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun, can be both positive and negative depending on the season, and can range from 14 minutes positive to 16.5 minutes negative. And, obviously, a sundial only works when the sun is shining.
The earliest examples of sundials originate from Egypt and Mesopotamia and can be dated to around 1500 BC. Although sundials have mostly lost their original function since the introduction of the mechanical, they are still very popular as decorative garden ornaments. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the armillary spheres were particularly fashionable, serving as an appealing conversation piece for the garden.
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