The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Pocket compass and sundial
  • Pocket compass and sundial
  • Michael Butterfield (1635 - 1724)
  • Paris, France and England
  • early 18th century
  • Engraved silver
  • Width: 6.62 cm
    Length: 7.8 cm
    Height: 0.88 cm, excluding gnomon
    Height: 3.72 cm, including gnomon
  • Signature On dial plate, around gnomon
    Inscription: engraved hours for latitudes 43°, 46°, 49° and 52°
    Inscription: Latitudes for 30 cities in France, England, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. Also 'Premier cadran'
    Inscription: graduated scale 40-60°
  • W173
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • A cultured eighteenth-century gentleman would be knowledgeable about the arts and sciences. Many would be enthusiastic scientific observers and carry scientific instruments, such as this combined compass and sundial, in their capacious pockets. Although not signed, this instrument has been attributed to the English maker Michael Butterfield (1635-1724) who worked in Paris, having moved there c.1663. He produced many pocket compasses and sundials of this kind and gave his name to (though he did not invent) this particular type with its dial plate engraved with different hour scales serving different latitudes, its compass and its adjustable gnomon (the column of the sundial that indicates the time).