A French Ptolemaic armillary sphere, of traditional form, pasteboard with applied engraved paper, and with central terrestrial globe and sun and moon discs, on ebonized wood stand. It dates from the Louis XV period of the mid 18th century, in France. The rings and geographical information on the globe are labeled in French. This armillary was the featured antique in the Fall Style issue of New York Cottages & Gardens in September 2016.
The meridian is surmounted by an hour circle with metal pointer and contains an internal rotating spherical armillary ring structure with red painted edges comprised of polar circles, tropical circles (Capricorn and Cancer), and equator — all joined by an equinoctial and a solstitial colure and surrounded by a planar zodiac band. In the center of the ring structure is a rotating terrestrial globe approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. The globe is surrounded by sun and moon flat discs revolving on flat metal armatures. The horizon band with calendar and zodiac is raised on four quadrant supports with latitude and longitude data, on a turned, ebonized wood stand with a bulbous tapering baluster central standard and dish base.
On both the zodiac and meridian, the armillary is inscribed with the name of the globe maker and seller, Louis-Charles Desnos, with his address Rue St. Julien le Pauvre, A Paris. It is also dated 1753 on the zodiac which was soon after he had taken over the Hardy globe making firm in Paris. The terrestrial globe (original to the sphere) is dated 1744, which is also the year Desnos's predecessor, Nicolas Hardy, died.
Demonstrational armillary spheres were commonly produced in France in the 18th and 19th centuries to show various basic principles of astronomy. An armillary sphere with the earth at the center is known as Ptolemaic, and an armillary sphere with the sun at the center is known as Copernican. Ptolemy (2nd Century A.D), an Alexandrian astronomer believed that the earth was at the center of the universe. Ptolemaic armillary spheres were produced in Islamist countries, reaching advanced levels as early as the 10th century.
Louis-Charles Desnos was a French globe maker. For more information see our Guide to Globe Makers.
Inscription on zodiac: Se monte et se vend Chés Desnos rue St. Julien le Pauvre A Paris 1753.
Inscription on meridian: Se monte et se vend [C]hez Desnos rüe St. Julien le pauvre, A Paris.
Earth globe cartouche: GLOBE/TERREST./ 1744.
Condition: Armillary sphere rings, globe, and sun and moon discs generally very good, with the usual expected light toning, wear, discoloration and darkening, soiling and handling. Terrestrial globe a bit more darkened overall but nonetheless readable. Some mild warping to various rings. Stand very good with the usual overall light wear, warping, shrinkage.
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Dahl, Edward H. and Gauvin, Jean-François. Sphaerae Mundi: Early Globes at the Stewart Museum. Canada: Septentrion and McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000. p. 150.
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Khan, Samia. The Armillary Sphere: A Concentrate of Knowledge in Islamic Astronomy. Manchester, UK: FSTC Ltd., December 2007. pp. 2-13.