Many pocket sundials sold each year

#Middlebury #Kovels #pocketsundial

The sundial is a very early tool used to tell time. It is said the earliest sundials were made in 1500 B.C., and variations were made in following centuries by the Greeks, Chinese and Romans. But the portable sundial carried on trips during the 18th century was needed only until railroads – not clocks – were popular. The sundial, if positioned and read properly, gave more accurate time than a clock.

Pocket sundials were very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and America. A surprising number are sold to collectors each year as ornaments or historic relics, or as interesting and attractive conversation pieces. Auctions of scientific instruments sell sundials.

A small sundial by Michael Butterfield of Paris brought a big price at a Massachusetts auction. The unusual octagonal silver antique sold for $3,198.

A recent Skinner sale in Boston had brass or silver examples, many from the 17th and 18th centuries. They were made by hand with engraved lines and letters, and an inset compass. The gnomon, the upright piece that casts the shadow, was made so it could fit into the case that held the rest of the sundial. A silver octagonal plate with lines, numerals and a hinged gnomon was kept in a felt-lined leather case. The 2-3/4-inch French late-17th century antique sold for $3,198, including the buyer’s premium.

Q: I have a small cut-glass bottle that has a glass stopper and a silver cap. The bottle is rectangular, about 4 inches long by 1/2 inch wide. I read that in Victorian times, a widow would collect her tears in a vial. Could my bottle be one of these?

A: Tear collecting is referenced in the Old Testament of the Bible, in ancient Roman and Greek writings, and in Victorian poems and novels, but whether tear collecting was fact or legend is unclear. In the mid-1800s, when Victorian mourning customs became popular, it is said vials were used to collect tears wept for the departed loved one. Later, the tears were sprinkled on the grave to signify the end of official mourning. Another version of the custom claims mourning would last until the tears evaporated.

It’s difficult to imagine how a crying person could coax their tears into such a small bottle, but it makes a very romantic image. During the Victorian era, glass bottles were made with decorative caps, and were similar in shape to some scent bottles. Your bottle, cut glass with a silver filigree cap, is worth about $30. If there is a mark on the silver maker’s mark on the cap, it will be worth more.

Fur earmuffs, headband-style, cream color with burnt orange patches, bendable band, 1950s, 17 inches, $20.
Doll, Sleeping Beauty, bisque head and arms, pale face, red lips, green eyes, pink-and-black dress and cape, black mohair, c. 1905, $240.
Hat box, leather, holds stovepipe top hat, canvas interior, strap and lock, curved lid with top loop handle, c. 1830, $775.

Tip: All types of lights – sunlight, fluorescent light and/or electric and LED lights – will harm paper.

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(c) 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.


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