Stock Number: 9143


For sale, antique French sundial 19th century, by J. Decoudun. This is the only recorded dial by this maker who was known for his exposure meter, a pneumatic hydrometer, and a safe bed reading lamp!


1-1/8 inches (3 cm)


c. late 19h century

Country of manufacture


Categories: Portable Sundials, Timekeeping


MAGNETIC AZIMUTH SUNDIAL, French, late 19th century, signed “J. Decoudun.” The 1-1/8″ (3 cm) diameter glazed case is made of plated brass and mounted with pendant ring. It contains a fixed brass arc with compass directionals, and a floating compass card printed with hours from 6am to 6pm and set with stone pivot. Condition is very fine noting some darkening to the silvered arc.

In use one aligns the case with the sun, and reads the time from the calibrations on the floating card.

The maker is recorded by Marcelin for a sundial — probably this one — in a 1986 Paris auction. But Decoudun is known for his 1888 extinction exposure meter, and for a new form of pneumatic hydrometer. He also advertised — from his 8 rue de Saint-Quentin, Paris, address — the availability of a safe oil-burning bed reading lamp. This is the only example of his magnetic sundial we have seen.

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David and Yola Coffeen both have enjoyed academic careers, as planetary astronomer and as linguist/educator. But since 1982 (yes, 1982!) they have been full-time dealers in early scientific and medical instruments, under the name Tesseract. Selling primarily by catalogue (over 100 issued so far) they also have a web presence at, and can be contacted at [email protected].

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