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Antique Le Maire SILVER Sundial,Signed, Circa 1720


Offered for sale is a rare antique SILVER Sundial by P. Le Maire, Paris, circa 1720 with the original case in outstanding condition. This octagonal dial insert with a compass, adjustable gnomon with bird-form indicator, rear engraved with European cities, latitudes and longitudes in a fitted case. #105

Lot Description: An early 18th-Century silver Butterfield-pattern compass sundial, signed on the horizontal plate Le Maire Fils A Paris, engraved with the hours for latitudes [?]52°, 49°, 45° and [?]42°, the inset compass with sixteen compass points, blued-iron needle with brass cap and glazed cover, the folding gnomon with bird-shaped pointer, and graduated 40° - 60°, the underside engraved with the latitudes for twenty-four cities and towns, supported on a turned silver foot.An 18th-Century silver Butterfield-type compass sundial, signed P. Le Maire A Paris, the octagonal base plate engraved with foliate panel and four hour scales marked 52 de 4 - 12 - 8, 49 de IIII - XII - VIII, 46 de 4 - 12 - 8 and 43 de V - XII - VII, the folding, spring-loaded gnomon engraved with foliate motifs and latitude scale 40° - 60° running against a pointer in the form of a bird, the compass with engraved rose and brass-capped, blued-steel needle, the underside engraved with the names and latitudes of 31 European cities, in fitted, blue plush-lined, leather-covered case -- 3in. (7.5cm.) long.

Literature: BAPTISTE, Georges (ed.) La Measure Du Temps (Brussels, 1984);DAUMAS, Maurice Scientific Instruments Of The Seventeenth And Eighteenth Centuries And Their Makers(London, 1972). GUYE, Samuel and Henri MICHEL Time & Space Measuring Instruments From The 15th To The 19th Century (London, 1971);MADDISON, F.R. A Supplement To A Catalogue Of Scientific Instruments In The Collection Of J.A. Billmeir, Esq., C.B.E. (Oxford and London, 1957);SYNDRAM, Dirk Wissenschaftliche Instrumente Und Sonnenuhren (Munich, 1989)

Pierre Le Maire (circa 1739-1760) was the son of Jacques Le Maire (fl. circa 1720-1740), an instrument maker and member of the Société des Arts who made instruments for the Académie des Sciences. Daumas notes that Pierre was "the first constructor in France to produce Hadley's quadrant", made a wide range of instruments, and was famous for his skill in mounting natural magnets (p. 259). Butterfield-type dials by Pierre Le Maire are described and illustrated by Baptiste (p. 68, item 54), Guye and Michel (p. 248, plate 248), Maddison (p. 56, item 208, no illustration) and Syndram (pp. 139-141, item 55).

Butterfield type dial for latitudes 35°-50° North. It has an octagonal dial-plate on which are four concentric hour scales. All the markings are in Arabic. Two of the hour scales are marked by Turkish numerals and the other two by 'abjad' numerals. The compass is set into the dial-plate and, together with a single leg at the opposite end, it supports the plate. The cardinal points are named in Arabic and North is offset 5° West to allow for magnetic variation. The hinged gnomon is adjustable for latitudes 30°-50°. A bird index marks the latitude. The compass base and the reverse side of the dial-plate are engraved with a table of 26 cities with their latitudes in Arabic. It contains places in the Near-East and North Africa and also European cities such as Paris and Rome. The dial has an octagonal white metal case with red velvet lining. This dial was made for the Turkish market. The highly stylized appearance of the engravings suggests that they were made by a European rather than by a native speaker. The signature on the obverse, 'amila biyun fi Paris', names Bion as maker and a second person as engraver, 'ma'ir huqqaq', whose name can be read as 'Mayer', 'Maire' or 'Meir', etc. It is tempting to think that this refers to a member of the renowned Le Maire family. A sundial made for the Turkish market, and signed 'Le Maire fils a Paris' in Latin script, was sold at Christie's on 7 October 1982 as lot no. 25 (cf Anthony Turner [in preparation]). For more information regarding this dial please refer to the OUP & NMM catalogue, 'Sundials at Greenwich'. Date made circa 1700. Maker Bion, Nicolas. Place made:Paris, France. Credit:National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Georges Bernard Collection. Materials: glass; silver. Measurements: Overall: 9.5 x 62 x 74 mm.

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  • Model: Silver P. Le Maire Sundial

This product was added to our catalog on Monday 14 July, 2014.

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