Exquisite silver sundial by Pierre Sevin hallmarked 1681-84

Exquisite silver sundial by Pierre Sevin hallmarked 1681-84


Country of manufacture


Categories: Scientific, Timekeeping


Elegant and richly decorated silver sundial made by Pierre Sevin (active in Paris from 1662 to 1685), renowned for his precision instruments. Sevin was Ingenieur du roi and a member of the Founder’s Company. He also benefited from a close relationship with the Academie des Sciences and worked with mathematician Joseph Saveur (1653–1716), making for him a logarithmic scale of Saveur’s design and a new type of perpetual calendar. In 1662, he built a polyhedral sundial with the arms of Anne-Marie Louise d\\\’Orléans, known as \\\”la grande demoiselle,\\\” currently in the Louvre Museum. In 1669 he supplied instruments for astronomer Jean Richer’s (1630–1696) trip to Cayenne in French Guiana, South America. He also made instruments for the Paris Observatory in collaboration with instrument maker Louis Chapotot (Active 1670-1686).

The sundial rests on two turned silver feet mounted on an engraved octagonal plate, with three concentric hour scales including an octagonal scale marked in Roman numerals \\\”III-XII-VIII\\\” and two hexagonal scales marked in Arabic numerals \\\”5-12-7\\\”. An intricate rosette decoration is engraved in the center of the top on a black background. Features a folding triangular gnomon of the Butterfield type, mounted on a hinge adjustable to latitudes 40°-60° and finely engraved with a bird, acanthus leaves and volutes. Four-direction recessed compass, needle is in steel mounted on a faceted brass pivot, all covered with flat glass.

The back of the plate is engraved with a list of 22 European cities with their latitudes and the manufacturer\\\’s signature. The back of the compass bears an engraved decoration forming an acanthus rosette and the spring of the gnomon is decorated with a fine geometric decoration. Very elegant interplay of black and silver shapes and colors. A silver hallmark is visible on the upper left side of the back, appears to be the fleur-de-lis mark dating the sundial to 1681-84.

Instrument in superb condition. Silver sundials by Sevin are quite highly valued. Similar examples can be found in various past auctions and museum collections:





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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:



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