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Rare 19th Century Bronze Horizontal Sundial by Watkins & Hill London

£2,600

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Rare 19th Century Bronze Horizontal Sundial by Watkins & Hill London

A beautifully weathered circular bronze sundial by Watkins & Hill, first half of the 19th century. The sundial was designed and calibrated to be used outside on a stone base in a garden in Southern England.

The engraved base plate, which has a lovely green-hued patina, has a Roman chapter ring with half-hour markers and minute divisions, on which the gnomon casts its shadow.

The sundial is signed by the makers at the bottom in the following manner: Watkins & Hill Charing Cross. In the middle is a compass rose to position the instrument in such a way that the time can be read. Above the middle is a Latin inscription: Cogitaui Dies Antionas (‘I thought upon the days of old’ (Psalm 76)).

Diameter: 10 inch (25.4 cm)

The makers:
The firm was founded by Francis Watkins, Senior (1723-1791), who worked for the famous maker John Dollond, among others, from 1706 to 1761. He invented a refracting telescope. In the period 1763-74 he was in partnership with Addison Smith, his former pupil, as Watkins and Smith. Watkins retired in 1784, when he was succeeded by his nephews Jeremiah Watkins (c. 1758-1810) and Walter Watkins (d. 1798). After Walter’s death in 1798 the business was continued by Jeremiah until his death in 1810. In 1808 he was listed as ‘J. Watkins, optician, 5 Charing Cross.’. In 1810 William Hill (d. 1847), an employee, ran the business on behalf of Jeremiah’s widow, Charlotte. In 1818 Jeremiah’s son Francis Watkins, Junior became a partner and the firm traded as Watkins and Hill, the makers of this sundial. They were active until 1847. The company remained in existence and Watkins & Hill exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition. Later, in 1857, they were taken over by the brothers C. A. and F. H. Elliott, the sons of William Elliott, a mathematical instrument maker.

Reference: Grace’s Guide.

Condition

Good. Wear consistent with age and use.

Dimensions

Height: 5.52 in. (14 cm)
Diameter: 10.01 in. (25.4 cm)

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