Astronomy & Cosmology

Beringer, David | Diptych Sundial and Compass in Fruitwood and Paper

  • A very attractive diptych sundial and compass probably produced by the German craftsman David Beringer. Previously sundials of this type had been made in engraved ivory or metal as luxury items, but Beringer was one of the first compass makers to realise that using wood and printed paper would bring the price down and widen the market. His workshop flourished between about 1777 and his death in 1821, and his name became synonymous with portable wooden diptych and cube sundials. Like this example, many of his pieces were made for the international market or for travelers who would need to use the sundial at different latitudes. The gnomen string can be adjusted for latitudes between 40 and 54, and a list on the lid gives the latitudes for 48 cities, including London, Dublin, Prague, Paris, Florence, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Berlin, as well as New York City. This is a very nice, entirely original, and fully functional example of this ephemeral make of sundial.
  • Diptych sundial and compass. Unsigned but probably by Beringer, late 18th or very early 19th century. Fruitwood and printed paper, 45 x 70 mm. Paper on the lid just a little dulled and rubbed, interior paper slightly faded, a little rubbing, superficial cracks along the base, a little dust within the compass. Original string gnomen, latches, and compass needle and glass. Very good condition.