Universal equinoctial ring dial

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probably made in London

Postcard of Universal equinoctial ring dial.
© National Museums Scotland

Universal equinoctial ring dial

This universal equinoctial ring dial was made around 1750, probably by Edward Nairne, a scientific instrument maker based in London. Based on the 16th-century astronomical ring, this form of dial is to an English design of 1652.

The user sets the index below the suspension loop to the local latitude. The pin-hole on the gnomon is then set for the date. The dial is suspended and turned until the spot of light from the gnomon falls on the hour ring, giving the time.

A former apprentice of Matthew Loft, Edward Nairne (1726-1806) had premises at 20 Cornhill, opposite the Royal Exchange, in London. He gained an international reputation and published his trade card in French as well as English.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-655-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1894.451
Date: Around 1750
c. 1750
Material: Brass
Dimensions: 10.50" D
What: Ring dial, universal
Subject: 20. TIME MEASUREMENT, Sundials (Departmental Classification)
Who: Nairne, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Brass universal ring dial, made in England and signed by Nairne of London, c. 1750
  • For Edward Nairne, see Clifton, Gloria, Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851. London: 1995, p 196 
  • For sundials, see Turner, Anthony, Early Scientific Instruments 1400-1800. London: 1987, pp 173-82 
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