A scarce Victorian pantochronometer or magnetic dial pocket sundial compass in turned sycamore case c1850

Horizontal magnetic pocket sundial compass having 1⅛” floating paper card with simple brass gnomon and pivot, and displaying hours. Verso balanced with paper. The fixed outer 1¾” diameter card ring displaying countries and cities, to include Japan, Mexico, Boston and London.

Contained under a low domed glass held within a polished turned sycamore case with push-fit lid of domed shape, the inner lid with paper label displaying instructions for use at different times of the year. The verso of the case covered with paper.

Condition: The floating card and outer ring clean, the compass swinging freely and finding north easily. The domed glass clear, the turned wood case sound with marks commensurate with age. The original instructions that would have been applied to the verso worn away.

Comments: A very crisp example of these scarce Victorian pantochronometers, and in above average condition, this fascinating and practical instrument, a combination of a compass, a sundial, and a universal time dial, is a collector’s piece.

The term “pantochronometer” was coined by Charles Essex in 1825. Mention of the pantochronometer first appeared in The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belle Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c. of Saturday 3rd December 1825: “Early in the ensuing week will be issued to the Public, THE PANTOCHRONOMETER; a Scientific Novelty. Price from 10s to 4 Guineas, and upwards. To be had at respectable Opticians, Fancy Repositories, &c.” with an advertisement appearing in the same journal on Saturday 17th December. By the next issue, Saturday 24th December, The Literary Gazette included a review in its “Arts & Sciences” section, see image below, summarising the pantochronometer as: “a clever little philosophical instruments…the invention of which does credit to the ingenuity of modern science.”

Dimensions: 2⅛" diameter x 1" high

Stock No: SI2482

Price: £395