A gilded German compendium by the maker of the first map of Munich – Volckmer

A gilded German compendium by the maker of the first map of Munich – Volckmer




Country of manufacture


Categories: Scientific, Surveying Instruments & Mining, Portable Sundials, Timekeeping


VOLCKMER (Tobias), Astronomical compendium in gilt and silver brass and silver signed « Tobias Volckmer fecit anno 1641 ». 

Gilded brass and silver. The instrument measures 95x95x30mm closed.  


A beautiful instrument typical of the Volckmers’ production.

The compendium is composed of a geometric astronomical quadrant with movable alidade decorated with fruits and mascarons, a horizontal sundial set for 48° North latitude – i.e. that of Munich where Volckmer was based -, a large rotating compass with a wind rose, two sides without engraving, and a sinical quadrant with alidade.

This compendium is typical of the production of Volckmer the Elder and Volckmer the Younger :

– large square form and thickness ; 

– decoration with fruits and mascarons ;

– engravings of two exterior plates : one combining astronomical and surveying quadrants, and the other with a large sinical quadrant.

In addition, the quadrants are engraved, in a typical Volckmer manner, with small parallel-hatched squares making visible the division every 5°. 

Close examples of Volckmer’s compendiums are kept at the British Museum, London (Volckmer the Elder, 1588), the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford (Volckmer the Elder, 1584), and the Whipple Museum, Cambridge (Volckmer the Younger, 1645 – very similar to ours).

The Volckmers, Father and Son, were the most important instrument makers in Bavaria during the 1590s-1650s.

Tobias Volckmer the Elder was a Brunswick-born goldsmith and an instrument maker who was first recorded in the Salzburg archives in 1586. In 1594 he was appointed as mathematician and goldsmith to the court of the Dukes of Bavaria in Munich.

Trained by his father, Tobias the Younger (1586-1659) appeared as a surveyor on the payroll of the Bavarian court from 1613 onwards, with a salary of 13 guilders 30 kreuzer. On 11 October 1613 he was accepted into William V’s court service with an annual salary of 50 guilders.

In 1616 he and his father took part in surveying preparatory work for the planned brine pipeline from Reichenhall to Traunstein. On 9 October 1617 Tobias the Younger was accepted into the Munich goldsmiths’ guild. The same year, he published his book on surveying at Augsburg under the title Tabulae proportionum angulorum geometriae. He is also known for the first printed map of the city of Munich, which he drew based on his own measurements, etched and published in 1613.

A fine German instrument by an important maker from a renowned family of Bavarian mathematicians, engravers and goldsmiths.

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FR Le Zograscope

Established by Alexandre Piffault in 2014 and based in Paris at 5 rue de Condé, 75006, very close to Odéon, 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.
Personnal website : https://www.lezograscope.com/

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