Nicholas Bion style silver compass
sundial – early
Butterfield-style compass sundial dating to the
early 18th century
and signed on the bottom, “N. Bion, Paris.” Nicholas
Bion and Butterfield are two of the most well-known instrument makers of
17th and 18th century France. Bion is particularly known for the
books he wrote on scientific instruments. It measures 2 3/8” long and 1 7/8” wide.
The horizon plate is engraved with the hours IIII-XII, and I-VII.
It is indicated for a latitude “pour 50 degrez,” but also has
separate scales for 45 degrees and 40 degrees.
Fine adjustment is made with a folding gnomon and bird indicator
-- it’s scale measuring from 40-60 degrees.
The compass points are “Nort, Est, Sud, and Ouest.” The needle is blued steel.
The latitudes of twenty-two European cities are engraved on the
bottom. The dial is made
entirely of silver and is in excellent working condition for its age.