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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1550-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass in turned ivory frame

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

During the 16th and 17th centuries sandglasses were used in various situations: in churches, typically to time the sermon; on ships to time the length of the watches; in the kitchens of wealthy households, probably to help judge cooking times. They are often illustrated in scholars' studies where they served meditation, or simply helped judge the time of day.

Sandglasses in this period were constructed from two matching glass ampoules sealed (often with wax or pitch) and bound with fabric at the joint. The 'sand' was usually a material less sensitive to moisture such as powdered metal, rock or eggshell.

It has not been possible to time the duration of this sandglass as the particles no longer run freely.

Physical description

Single sandglass in a turned ivory frame. The two glass ampoules of semi-globular shape are lashed around the waist with textile (apparently silk, now degraded) and thread. The ivory frame consists of two turned discs with a series of shallow mouldings, joined by five turned balusters, presumed to be glued in place. Between the balusters, fitted to the inside of each disc, are five turned finials (2 of which are missing). Aligned with the finials, and positioned on the outside of each disc are 5 hemi-spherical 'buttons serving as low feet.Three rounded ivory knobs are set into the outer faces of the top and bottom discs, serving as low feet. The glass contains orangy-red particles which no longer run freely.

Place of Origin

Italy (possibly, made)


1550-1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Glass in turned ivory frame


Height: 8.3 cm, Diameter: 5 cm

Object history note

Bought for £2 from Mons. Fulgence, Paris.
Also known as an hourglass.

Descriptive line

Single sandglass in a turned ivory frame with textile lashing, and orange 'sand'


Ivory; Blown glass; Textile




Clocks & Watches


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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