Astronomical compendium (detail)

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made in London

Postcard of Astronomical compendium (detail).
© National Museums Scotland

Astronomical compendium (detail)

This astronomical compendium - a nocturnal, a latitude list, a pocket sun-dial, compass and calendar combined - was made in London in 1575 by Humphrey Cole, a notable instrument maker. This detail shows the compass housed in the compendium's lower leaf.

The compass card has 32 points with the main eight points marked in full, the rest marked by their first letters. North is further indicated by a fleur-de-lys, east by a cross, south by an arrow and west by a spade. The card's edge has a 360 degree scale.

It appears that a magnetic compass was first incorporated with a sundial, to assist with direction-setting, as early as the 14th century.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-001-909-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.NL 18
Date: 1575
Material: Gilt brass. Inscription: THIS TABLE BEGINNETH AT 1572 AND SO FOREVER ETC
What: Compendium dial, pocket / sundial / compass / calendar
Subject: Jewellery: clocks, watches (NMAS Classification)
Who: Humphrey Cole, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Pocket compendium dial of gilt-brass, with sundial, compass and calendar combined, made by Humphrey Cole, London, 1575
  • Gunther, R.T. The Great Astrolabe and Other Scientific Instruments of Humphrey Cole. Archaeologia 76 (1926), pp 273-317, esp. p 289 
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