About the object
A fine and rare fruitwood diptych sundial, Nuremberg circa 1700.
Measuring 2 5/8 in x 1 3/4 in x 5/8 in when closed, the plain cover is unhooked and lifts to reveal two sundials, one vertical, the other horizontal, being held in an open position by a further hook and eye.
Both dials are described by punchwork lines and numbers filled with black and red colouring; the gnomen is a silk thread. The base dial is centred with a glazed compass marked SEPT, MERI, ORIE, OCCI', the vertical dial centred with a plumb weight, also suspended from a silk thread. The compass dial appears to be faintly stamped with a hand mark attributed to the Karner family and there are three owl-like stamps to the fore edge of the base dial seen used on other examples attributed to the Karner family; prolific and illustrious makers spanning five generations and working in Nuremberg throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries.
This dial is likely made by the fifth and last of the Karner dial makers, towards the end of what had been a thriving commercial activity in the south German city of Nuremberg for some two hundred years. Most of the dials produced were made from ivory, the earliest, circa 1500, are of wood, as are the last such as this present dial. It is noted that very few wooden examples exist.