An exceptional cased graphometer by Chapotot dating to circa 1680-1700. Features exquisitely engraved gargoyle figures with eagle wings, serpentine necks and dog heads surrounded by pierced floral vine work and architectural volutes. A fine compass is engraved with the cardinal directions, fleur de lys north directional, and a frame of acanthus leaves.
The graphometer is mounted on a brass ball joint adjusted with a finely worked butterfly thumbscrew. The swiveling arm and four sights are in perfect condition with intact brass target lines. Underneath the arm is the signature “Chapotot AParis” in fine decorative script.
The case exterior is decorated with repoussé gilt leather, stamped and tooled in geometric designs reminiscent of gothic motifs with distinct traces of gilding. The case is secured with three decorated brass clasps. The interior is covered in a green wool baize. With its early gilt leather case, a fine museum-quality piece in excellent condition by one of the more skilled and creative instrument makers of 17th century Paris.
Louis Chapotot is first recorded in 1670 as an apprentice to Guillaume Ménard (fl. 1663-1691). He was then appointed Master in the Corporation des Fondeurs and in 1676 took his son Jean into partnership. In the 1680s he published several tracts describing his instruments in scientific journals. Chapotot worked at the Quai de l’Horloge in Paris under the sign “a La Sphere, Paris” according to his trade card (see final image). He provided instruments to the Royal Academy of Sciences and to clients abroad such as Peter the Great and the court of the Qing Emperor in China.
A large graphometer by Chapotot with floral volutes can be found at the Dresden Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon:
A very similar graphometer to this one, though with replaced needle, is in the collection of the Royal Museum Greenwich:
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Instrumentum specializes in high quality 17th and 18th century scientific instruments for architecture, mathematics and navigation. We have collected antique instruments for over 20 years with a focus on early and rare European architectural drafting sets, dividers, and rules. If you are interested in something particular please contact us at [email protected]. Image galleries of our inventory can be viewed on Pinterest and Facebook at the following links: