A magnificent Richard Glynne gilt and silvered brass horizontal sundial, English,  circa 1725,

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Lot 74
A magnificent Richard Glynne gilt and silvered brass horizontal sundial,
English, circa 1725,

Sold for £ 27,500 (US$ 35,311) inc. premium
A magnificent Richard Glynne gilt and silvered brass horizontal sundial, English, circa 1725,
Signed on both sides of the gnomon 'R. Glynne Londini Fecit' the circular horizontal dial (IIII-XII-VIII), with inward facing roman numerals for the hours is divided to 1 minute by outward facing offset divisions of Arabic numerals in groups of five. The dial is drawn for 51° latitude N. It is engraved on a silvered plate inset in a square base fitted with four leveling feet. The dial-plate may be rotated by knobs set at each end of the gnomon axis, that at the north end being fitted with an index by which the plate may be set against a scale of degrees divided in four quadrants to 1° and sub-divided to 30'. The dial can thus be set to compensate for magnetic declination. Within this an equation of time scale (maxima: faster 14' 40 at 1 February; slower 16' at 24 October), is engraved, and a circular level is inset at the southern end of the gnomon between the two ends of the hour scale. The thick fretted gnomon, engraved with flowing foliage ad stiff oak-leaf decoration is hinged to fold flat for storage.
A fixed inset compass, with a silvered, sixteen-point rose, is placed at the centre of the instrument, the triangular indicators for the cardinal points are engraved with symmetrical fronds, while the intermediate points are half-hatched. A scale of degrees in four quadrants surrounds the direction indicators, and the slender, blued-steel, needle has N and S worked into the double arrow, blued steel, bar. Between the compass and the hour scale is a ring of place names reading (eastwards from North):
Paris Amsterdam
Rome Dantzick Constantinople Ierusalem Babylon Ispahan Surrat
Port Royall Bermudes Barbadoes
Cape Farewell (Greenland) Teneriff Dublin
each followed by the figure 'XII'. This indicates that it is Noon in the place named when the shadow of the top edge of the gnomon shows the time against which the name is written and thus allows an estimate of the longitude of the place named to be made. The edges of the base and the outer scales are adorned with a frieze of stiff oak-leaves; rosettes are engraved around the four levelling feet.
The instrument is contained in its original oak and mahogany fitted case with brass inner rim and keyhole plate.


  • Richard Glynne (1681-1755) was apprenticed to the well-known instrument-maker Henry Wynne in the Clockmakers' Company on 6 April 1696 and became free 29 September 1705. He would be Steward of the Company in 1725. He established himself 'next door to the Latin Coffee House in Ave Maria Lane, near St Paul's London' where the same year he was puffed as 'a very skilful and Accurate Mathematical Instrument-Maker' for 'Azimuth Compasses...as also other things' in the first English edition of Guillet's, The Gentleman's Dictionary... (London 1705). In 1705 also, he married Anne Lea, daughter of the map and globe retailers Philip (d. 1700) and Anne Lea (d. 1730) joining in partnership with the latter from at latest 1712. In December that year they issued proposals for the production of 36-inch diameter globes. By this time, Glynne was working from his partner's address at the Atlas and Hercules in Cheapside where he remained until c. 1718 when he is found opposite Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. In 1725 with Anne Lea he reissued Philip Lea's map of London, Westminster and Southwark but his main activity was 'all sorts of Mathematical Instruments either for Land or Sea, according to the newest improvements' as he stated in an advertisement in 1726. A range of mathematical instruments by him – sectors, drawing instruments, sun-dials, armillary spheres and armillary planetaria - are known by him, all of clean, uncluttered, appearance but finely and precisely engraved as in the major example of his work here offered. The influence of his master, Henry Wynne, can perhaps be seen on this dial in the inclusion of the series of places throughout the world, Wynne being perhaps the earliest London maker to deploy this refinement. Glynne, who formed five apprentices during his working career, ceased trading in 1730 when his stock was auctioned from the optician Edward I Scarlett's shop. He died in 1755.

    Anthony Turner, Early Scientific Instruments: Europe 1400-1800, London (Sotheby's Publications), 1987, 97, plate XVI.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note: The base-plate measures 11 3/4 in (30cm) square
A magnificent Richard Glynne gilt and silvered brass horizontal sundial, English,  circa 1725,
A magnificent Richard Glynne gilt and silvered brass horizontal sundial, English,  circa 1725,
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