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Globe, Astronomy, Orrery, Armillary Sphere, American, Bryant Celestial Indicator, Antique, Hartford, 1872

Henry L. Bryant (1812-1881)
Celestial Indicator
Hartford, Connecticut: 1872
Brass, with paper labels, wooden planets, etc.
18.5 inches high; 11.5 inches diameter, 7.5 inches diameter base
Price on request

The celestial indicator is comprised of a series of calibrated brass armillary bands forming a spherical frame surrounding an orrery mechanism. The orrery is comprised of the various known planets represented by wooden spheres on wire armatures; a spherical and painted wooden representation of the earth with revolving moon sphere; a rectangular plate representing the asteroid belt; and at the center, a brass sphere representing the sun. It turns by a knob on the outer part of the sphere. A rectangular instructional paper label is mounted on the outer brass band and a continuous paper label of the zodiac belt is mounted on the inside of that brass band. A rounded plate has an applied simple map of the northern sky. The device is raised on a black-painted round cast iron base with gilt-line decoration.

Product description continues below.


The celestial indicator is a unique American two-in-one device, combining an armillary sphere (rings showing the celestial circles of the earth and sky) and an orrery (showing relative planetary movement in the solar system). It is one of the most interesting and sophisticated American globes or planetary devices ever invented, and should be included in any comprehensive collection of American globes. The device was the invention of Henry L. Bryant, of Hartford, Connecticut. It is described by Smithsonian Institution globe scholar Deborah Jean Warner as follows:

An artist of Hartford, some of whose work can be seen at the Connecticut Historical Society, Bryant obtained a patent (#131,148) for a celestial indicator in 1872. Essentially a planetarium within an armillary sphere, this demonstrated such astronomical phenomena as the orbital motion of the planets, precession, and nutation.

Other examples of the Bryant Celestial Indicator are in National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute and the Connecticut Historical Society.

Titled on Outer Label: The Celestial Indicator By HENRY BRYANT HARTFORD, CONN. Explanations and Directions … Patented Sept. 10, 1872.”

Condition: Generally very good with the usual expected wear and handling. Some light fading, wear, and professional restorations to minor chips on paper labels. Brass bands evenly toned with occasional slight irregular bending.


Bryant, Henry. A Synopsis of the Elements of Astronomy, and a Description of the Celestial Indicator. Hartford: 1872.

1872-1873 Illustrated Catalogue of School Merchandise. Boston: J.L. Hammett, 1872. p. 74.

Groce, George C. and Wallace, David H. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969. p. 93.

Additional information

Maker Location

Globe Type

Armillary, Orrery


Brass, Ebonized, Wood