Offered for sale is this fine 17th century graphometer, exquisitely designed and engraved with modelled and shaded floral volutes, a rare “grotesque” portrait, floral cartouches on top and bottom, and delicately engraved compass and needle. The four sights are in perfect condition with intact sightline targets and original swiveling brass covers. Graphometer is mounted on a ball joint adjusted with a butterfly thumbscrew. The case has a shagreen exterior and dyed calfskin interior with compartments accommodating other surveying instruments including two brass scales, as well as a covered compartment most likely intended for dividers or drawing instruments. All parts are original and in perfect working order. A museum-quality piece by one of the 17th century’s most creative and skilled engravers.
Louis Chapotot was a highly regarded instrument maker active in Paris from about 1670-1700. Chapotot is first recorded in 1670 as an apprentice to Guillaume Ménard (fl. 1663-1691). He was then appointed Master of the Corporation des Fondeurs and in 1676 took his son Jean into partnership who subsequently continued the business. They worked at the Quai de l’Horloge under the sign “a La Sphere, Paris” according to their trade card (see final image). Chapotot provided many instruments to the Royal Academy of Sciences as well as to clients abroad such as the Russian Tsar Peter the Great and the court of the Qing Emperor in China.
Purchased from France, this instrument was acquired in the 20th century from the descendants of French Admiral Ferdinand Alphonse Hamelin (1796-1864), a 19th century naval officer known for his victories in the Napoleonic and Crimean wars.
A graphometer by Chapotot with similar floral volutes can be found at the Dresden Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon:
A sundial by Chapotot in the louvre features a remarkably similar “grotesque” face formed from floral elements on the reverse side:
Examples of Chapotot’s work can be found in many museum collections including the Oxford Museum of the History of Science:
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Image galleries of our inventory can be viewed on Pinterest and Facebook at the following links: