9-Inch Ptolemaic Armillary Sphere
Italian: c. 1900
Painted metal sphere, printed paper, wooden base, metal compass
12.75 inches high
4.75 inches diameter, base
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A metal Ptolemaic armillary sphere, painted red, and with applied paper labels and central 1.75 inch terrestrial globe, on a turned wooden stand with faux rosewood finish, the central turned standard on a dish base with attached raised metal compass. The central globe is surrounded by sun and moon paper discs turning 360 degrees at the end of flat bands within equatorial, Arctic, Antarctic, Cancer and Capricorn circles, all bound by solstitial and equinoctial circles, as well as a flat outer zodiac band with hand-colored labels in yellow, green and pink, set to show the apparent path of the sun.
The inner side of zodiac band has an applied paper label вЂњDono Semigratuito del Secolo,вЂќ loosely translated meaning вЂњpartly-free gift of Il Secolo.вЂќ Il Secolo was an Italian newspapernpublished in Milan between 1866 and 1927. “Semigratuito” means that the globe was available at a reduced price from the newspaper. This indicates that this sphere was a promotional item dating to this period. Its style and materials of manufacture suggest it was made around the turn of the century.
In the 19th century, armillary spheres were popular astronomical demonstration devices, though the Copernican theory, in which the planets were understood to rotate around the sun, had by then replaced the Ptolemaic idea that the earth was the center of the universe. For more general information about armillaries see our Globe Glossary.
Molinengo, Alessandro. E-mail correspondence to George Glazer Gallery. 17 September 2009.