Polyhedral Sundial
Unique Small Wooden Sundial
Polyhedral Sundial Polyhedral Sundial
Polyhedral Sundial detail Polyhedral Sundial detail
Polyhedral Dial
American or English: Late 19th Century
11.5 inches high

Sundial in the form of a thirteen-faced polyhedron, each side with engraved rays to indicate the movement of shadows and Roman numerals to indicate the hours. Eleven sides are inset with a shaped metal gnomon. The sundial is raised on a stop-fluted tapering rectangular stand with molded and chamfered base. This handmade example was probably produced as an antiquarian piece in the late 19th century when there was a revival of interest in Renaissance astronomy and the history of navigation and exploration.

Polyhedral dials are associated with Renaissance astronomy in the 16th and 17th centuries. They served as ingenious demonstration pieces showing the skill and knowledge of mathematicians and instrument makers. The challenge in designing a polyhedral sundial is to set a separate dial on each face of the chosen solid, so that all show the exact same time. They have been made with varying numbers of faces and shapes, ranging from regular polyhedral with all equal faces, to highly irregular shapes. Some had plumb bobs or inset compasses for orientation.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall wear. Some gnomons slightly bent, some replaced. Remnants of old identification label on bottom.


"Polyhedral Dial." Matrix: Maths and Technology Revealed in Exhibition. http://www.mathsyear2000.org/museum/floor2/gallery4/gal3p2.html (16 December 2003).