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Astronomical Chiming and Calendar Clock

Astronomical Chiming and Calendar Clock

  • Place of origin:

    Southern Germany (made)

  • Date:

    1620 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt brass or copper, silvered.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Case: Gilt brass or copper case of architectural form. The large rectangular body rests on a flat projecting moulded base each side of which is recessed at the centre. At each corner of the body a fluted three-quarter doric column resting on a rectangular plinth, to each outer face of which a flattened pyramidal stud is applied. Above the cornice is a gallery with baluster pillars and an urn-shaped finial at each corner.
Within the balustrade, a two-stage cupola, the lower stage formed as an octagonal arcade surmounted by a gallery similar to that above the cornice, with an urn finial at each of the eight angles.
The upper stage is formed as a circular arcade cupola, surmounted by an urn-shaped finial. The roof of the cupola is decorated with flat radiating ribs the spaces between filled with down-lapping scales.

A. MAin 24-hour dial, on front of clock. Outermost ring, minutes, numbered every 5 in arabic, and quarters I, II, III, IIII. Next ring, 1-24 in arabic. 24 now opposite IX 1/2 but formerly adjustable. Next ring formerly with shutters for sunrise and sunset, but now with top half silvered, 1-12 (but 4 from previous 1-24 sequence showing at zero). Lower half black. Innermost ring 1-24 in arabic.
Pierced brass hand (? a renewal) to minute ring. Brass hand with sun pointer to outside of twice I to XII ring.
B. Silvered dial ring below A, with signs of the zodiac and numbers of degrees in each sign, some of the signs themselves in translucent coloured enamels. Winding hole in left centre of this front of case marked ZVM GANG.
C. On rear of clock, astrolable dial with mater marked 48 GRAD, for latitude 48 degrees. Central rod for hand and 4 sleeves, but not rete or hands.
D. Below C, a cast ring of deities for the 7 days of the week, with their Latin names; at centre of this ring, a renewed disc with graduations 5 to 60 in punching o pointilliste type. Centre left, winding hole marked SCHLAG WERK. Centre right, winding hole marked FIRTEL WERCK.
E. On the right face of case. Large calendar dial. Outermost ring: daily calendar for the 6 months July to December, every day with its saint or festival, and with its Dominical letter outside. Next ring inwards: Golden Number corresponding to dates spaced by 190 years. Next ring: Indication number, with corresponding years from 1513 to 2188. Below, left, on enamel dial, now mounted upside down, marked SO WECKT: SO WECKT NIT, and renewed pointer (fixed).
F. On left of face case. Large calendar dial. Outermost ring: daily calendar for the six months January to June, every day with its Saint or Festival, and with its Dominical letter outside. Next ring: sliding ring of the movable feasts, from Septuagesima to the 6th Sunday after Trinity. Now fixed with Easter Day at June 27th. Within this, a ring 1 to 28, for years of the solar cycle. Within this, the corresponding Dominical letters, anti-clockwise. Within again, a narrow ring giving the above letters for 1583 A, 1700 B, 1800 C, 1900 D, 2100 E, 2200 G. Within again, a ring with the sequence of years, clockwise: 1467, 1496, 1525, 1554, 1583, 220, 1613, 1642, 1671, 1700, 1729, 1758, 1787, 1900, 1817, 1846, 1875, 2100, 1933, 1962, 1991, 2020, 2049, 2078, 2135, 1800, 2165, 2194. The gilt index inscribed on its central disc DOMINICALE CICLVS SOLIS ET LITERA. Below, left, an enamelled dial I to IIII in quarter-chime spacing, with gilt hand. Below right, a similar dial marked 1 to 10 in equal spacing, with gilt hand.

Movement: The movement has been somewhat altered from its original state; the main trains are original, but there are anomalies in the the elaborate motion work and the drives to the various dials. The movement is mounted within a posted frame, with square brass corner-posts, 17.2 cm long, including their bases and their capitals and 1.0 cm square. Brass top and bottom plates, 12.0 cm square, and three vertical plates, the front 5.1 cm wide, the middle and rear 7.6 cm wide.
Three trains for going, quarter-chiming and hour-striking respectively. Barrels, fusees and strike and chime work arbors are of brass, almost all wheels of iron, except for some renewed motion-work wheels. Going train in front half of movement, with fusee and chain, brass crown-wheel, verge escapement and iron balance-wheel. Fusee of 7 and one half turns. Motion work now operatin two hands: a pierced brass hand rotating once in two hours and coaxial with an 8-T star-wheel which releases the quarter-chime, and a sun-pointer rotating once in 24 hours. Behind the dial, a wheel rotating once a year formerly with a hand indicating on the annual Zodiac ring in front of it . The year-wheel has an eccentric pin which drives a vertical slider mounted on the rear face of the dial, with slots in upper half to operate the sunrise and sunset shutters which are now missing. The fusee arbor is continued through to the rear face of the clock, where it operates a train of gears for the astrolable dial. Quarter-chiming train at upper left of rear compartment, with fusee and chain, and count-wheel with an extra high fourth quarter sector which operates the release of the strike through a rather elaborate lever system. There is now no mechanical linkage between this train and the quarters indicating dial. Striking train at lower right of rear compartment, with fusee and chain and count-wheel, internal, against rear plate. Signs of former alarm train, now missing.

Place of Origin

Southern Germany (made)


1620 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Gilt brass or copper, silvered.


Height: 41.8 cm, Circumference: 23.5 cm

Descriptive line

Gilt-copper case and silver dials with translucent enamel, South German, about 1620.


Gilt brass; Gilt copper; Silver; Material


Gilt; Silvered; Technique


Metalwork Collection

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