A fine and rare elongated octagonal brass Butterfield dial, of typical form, made in Paris by Pierre Le Marie II. The front is inscribed Le Maire Fils with engraved Roman and Arabic numeral horary scales for several latitudes and having a hinged gnomon in the form of a bird that can be raised at various angles up to 90 degrees, and an inset round compass. The back is engraved with latitudes of major European cities.
A Butterfield dial is horizontal sundial designed to be folded flat and thus be portable. It was named after the English clockmaker and gnomonist Michael Butterfield (1623-1724), who developed and popularized its form and design. Butterfield moved to Paris in about 1663 and opened a shop selling precision instruments in 1677. Among his international clients was the Russian Czar Peter the Great who visited his shop in 1717 and purchased a large number of his portable dials.
Le Maire Fils — i.e., son of Le Maire — refers to the renowned sundial maker Pierre Le Maire II. He was active as an instrument maker between about 1730 and 1760 at the sign au Nouveau Quartier Anglais, on the Quai de l’Horloge, Île de la Cité, Paris. He was the son of Pierre Le Maire I (b. 1672) who also made sundials but specialized in mounting lodestones. His uncle Jacques Le Maire was also a sundial maker.