The scarce and unique pamphlet of Benjamin Martin on dialing and improved dialing instruments

The scarce and unique pamphlet of Benjamin Martin on dialing and improved dialing instruments

2200 euros



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Scientific Books, Calculating, Portable Sundials, Timekeeping


A good copy of the scarce and only Benjamin Martin’s pamphlet on dialing, more precisely on general dialing, but alos on an improved method for making dial thanks to latittude and hour lines and on two news instrument invented for making dials : a “dialling sector” and a “trigon”.


“In the 1770s saw the publication of a large number of tracts and pamphlets on a wide variety of subjects, many of them concerning new or improved instruments that he had devised.

The first of these was The Description and Use of a Table Clock upon a New Construction, followed shortly by Horologia Nova, or the New Art of Dialling, both printed in quarto. 

To some extent these were complementary. As Martin pointed out in his preface to Horologia Nova, there was ‘so great an affinity between a clock and a dial that the truth of one necessarily depends on that of the other’.

Advertisements in these tracts drew attention to ‘Horizontal dials for setting clocks true to a minute in any latitude between 20 and 60 degrees’, which, together with his new table clocks, were sold at his Fleet Street shop. A table of the equation of time, with directions for its use, was also published at about the same time. ‘And therefore’, wrote Martin, ‘if a gentleman has not a good clock and a good dial, with the means of keeping them always so, ’tis his own fault, and not mine’.” (Millburn, Benjamin Martin: Author, Instrument-Maker, and ‘Country Showman’, 1976, pages 152-153).


Indeed, Martin in the present tract reduces “the whole Art of the Construction of Three different dials only [horizontal, vertical and polar…]” (see the Preface).

But, as a well pratictionner in scientific instrument, Martin developped some methods and invented some news instrument. 

“Another thing which induced me to write on this subject was, the consideration of the great obscurity, in which the excellent invention of the line of latitudes, and its construction with the line of hours in the practical of dials […]. 

In the next place, as I have contrived two new Instruments for facilitating the ptractice of dialling, viz. the Dialling Sector, and Trigon ; I thought it incumbent upon me to describe their Nature, and the Manner of using them” (Preface).


On the last page, Martin advertises for his pamphlet on clocks and three new Clocks he recently invented.


A rare publication and the only specifically dedicated to dialling by one the most prominent English instrumentmakers from the middle of 18th century.


MARTIN (Benjamin), Horologia Nova ; or, the wew art of dialling in theory and practice, London, by the author, 1770

4to of (4), 15, (1) pages and 1 plate ; late half-vellum.

A very fine copy, inside very fresch wit good margins (the plate is mounted upside down).

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FR Le Zograscope

Established by Alexandre Piffault in 2014 and based in Paris, Le Zograscope specializes in antique and rare books in Science, Medicine and Technology, and rare antique instruments in the same fields. We have especially a strong interest in early and continental microscopy, early and special mathematical/drawing instruments, medical and surgical instrument, and rare technology.

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