This is an American tellurian or orrery from the early twentieth century. It is signed on the aluminum arm: ‘UNIVERSAL PLANETARIUM, PAT. JAN 7, 1919, RUSSEL-HAWKES CO., KANSAS CITY MO.’ The arm has a small compass. The base has a gold lettered calendar disk indicating the months, seasons, and zodiacal signs. The main support is metal covered with wood. The Sun is represented by a hollow brass globe. As the base is held with the one hand, the arm can be pushed around the Sun. As this is done, the gears cause the Earth and Moon move appropriately, and the inner planet moves as well. The Earth rotates on its axis, maintains its axis pointing in the northern direction and the Moon revolves around the earth in its appropriate inclined orbit. The Moon phases are illustrated by a black hood, attached to a gear by a spring, which rotates around the Moon. The instrument therefore illustrates the lunar cycle, the phases of the Moon, the reason for the seasons, and eclipses. The inner planet revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit. It is about 12 inches high. It is about 16 inches long minimum and about 26 inches long maximum.
CONDITION: This attractive planetarium, including its globe and all parts are in unusually fine working condition. No gears are stripped. No teeth are missing. Losses to the globe are minimal as seen in the photos. There is some chipping paint loss to the Moon. The Sun has fairly good lacquer with minor scuffs and losses, which really do not detract from its appearance as seen in the images. This is a rare working example of this machine in unusually good condition. In use the arm should be gently moved, as these machines have a tendency to have their gears break, especially the gears under the Sun, which are, unlike the other gears, not made of brass.
Ask the Dealer
I have been a scientific instrument collector and dealer for over twenty five years. I have a wide variety of instruments for sale, including globes, orreries, and especially microscopes and related items. I also have a collection of meteorites for sale. I have a detailed knowledge of the history of many of my instruments and maintain an informational website (www.microscope-antiques.com) open to the public which, although it will include all types instruments, currently concentrates on microscopes. I am a member of the Quekett Microscopical Society and The Microscopical Society of Southern California. I have contributed numerous articles to the Journal of the latter, and have also written articles about orreries published in the Journal 'Rittenhouse,' the American Scientific Instrument Society Journal. Many other additional original articles I have written about microscopes and their history, can be found on my web site at www.microscope-antiques.com/articles.html. I have been a meteorite collector for decades and all of my meteorites are guaranteed to be absolutely authentic.
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