Rare perpetual calendar combining a sundial and a nocturnal made in The Netherlands at the 18th century

Rare perpetual calendar combining a sundial and a nocturnal made in The Netherlands at the 18th century



Overall dimensions: 6.7 cm x 5.5 cm x 0.6 cm (closed)


18th century

Country of manufacture


Category: Timekeeping


Perpetual calendar of circular shape in silver and brass forming a perpetual calendar and sundial/nocturnal.

It is composed of a mobile disc with openings and a mobile arm folding out on each side.

A suspension ring keeps the instrument in a vertical position which has a hole in the centre.

All the sides are entirely engraved with several scales and inscriptions.

The upper side with the inscription “CALENDARIUM PERPETUUM” interspersed with a floral decoration corresponds to the perpetual calendar and also forms a simplified nocturnal. On the periphery there is a graduated hour scale IIII-XII-VIII which can be used thanks to the folding mobile arm which acts as a pointer. The mobile disc is pierced by six rectangular windows with their legends revealing numbers and letters, either by going from the periphery to the centre:

–  The window “Maent Dagen” (Months, Days) corresponds to the months of the year indicated by their first letters and the total number of days in the month;

–  The next window shows the beginning of the zodiac sign in the corresponding month (indicated by the previous window) with the associated zodiac sign (e.g. “23 m” for Scorpio which starts on 23 October);

–   The ‘Dag Lang’ (full day) window shows the length of the day in hours;

–  The window ‘Nacht Lang’ (whole night) shows the duration of the night in hours;

–  The window “Son Op” (Sun Above) shows the time of sunrise;


–  The ‘Son Under’ window shows the time of sunset.


The back of the instrument indicates the days of the week and also forms a sundial thanks to a mobile arm carrying a small folding pin gnomon. Thus, the mobile disc is divided into three sectors:

–  A first sector indicates the days of the week engraved with their symbols corresponding to the planets (Sun = Sunday, Moon = Monday, Mars = Tuesday, Mercury = Wednesday, Jupiter = Thursday, Venus = Friday and Saturn = Saturday) and a cut-out window shows numbers from 1 to 31 indicating the day in the month;

–   A second area is engraved with the signs of the zodiac (a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, ^, _, `) running from summer to winter solstice with the equinoxes in the centre. This scale is used to position the mobile arm carrying the small pin gnomon;


–   A third sector is engraved with an hour scale indicating the declination of the Sun between the summer and winter solstices with the signs of the zodiac on each side. This hour scale is graduated 4-12 (clockwise) and 1-8 (anti-clockwise). A small stylized fleur-de-lis decoration separates this sector from the previous one.


This type of Dutch perpetual calendar allowing the time to be read by day or night is very rare and is usually found on astronomical sundial/nocturnal compendiums of French or Italian origin. As far as we know, no other Dutch example can be seen in public collections. It should also be noted that most perpetual calendars are German, which makes our instrument even more valuable.

Maker : In the absence of a signature, it is difficult to assign a precise maker or workshop to our instrument. However, according to the workmanship, style and inscriptions, our perpetual calendar can be attributed with certainty to an eighteenth-century Dutch production.

Overall dimensions: 6.7 cm x 5.5 cm x 0.6 cm (closed)

Disc diameter: 5.5 cm

Made in The Netherlands at the 18th century.

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FR Galerie Delalande Paris

After 37 years in Le Louvre des Antiquaires, the Delalande gallery moved early June 2015 to 35 rue de Lille, 75007 Paris, on the other side of the Seine River in the well known antic shops area "le Carré Rive Gauche".
Our main specialties are, since 1976, Marine and Scientific instruments, Tobacco and Opium objects, Curiosities and Great Canes.
We participate to international antique fairs (TEFAF Maastricht) and are unique partner of the French Maritime Museum.
Eric Delalande is also Administrator of the French Experts National Company (C.N.E.).
Please visit also our two websites, which are frequently updated: www.antiquites-delalande.fr (French) and www.delalande-antiques.com (English). ----------------------------

La Galerie Delalande s'est installée en juin 2015 au 35 rue de Lille (75007 Paris), au coeur de la capitale dans le "Carré Rive Gauche", après 37 années de présence au Louvre des Antiquaires.
Nous nous sommes orientés, depuis 1976, vers plusieurs spécialités : Marine et Sciences, Objets du tabac et de l'Opium, Cannes de collection et Curiosités.
Nous participons à des salons d'envergure internationale (TEFAF Maastricht) et sommes partenaires exclusifs du Musée National de la Marine.
Eric Delalande est également Administrateur de la Compagnie Nationale des Experts (C.N.E.).
N'hésitez pas à visiter nos deux sites internet fréquemment mis à jour : www.antiquites-delalande.fr (Français) and www.delalande-antiques.com (Anglais).

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