Nikolaus Rensberg, Coburg, 68 x 68 x 42 mm, circa 1568
A remarkable and fine compendium
Case: brass, gilded, signature "VNIVERSAL COMPAST NICOLAVM RENSPERGEM MATHEMATICVM", dated 1568.
Front with fine engraving: portrait of a Renaissance prince. Sides with various sun and planet charts. Inside: the lid is fitted with a compass; the bottom part has two revolving discs and five engraved rings for setting moon phase, moon age, date, month and zodiac signs.
Compendia and pocket instruments
Compendium and astronomical or pocket instruments are different names for an instrument that combines several individual tools in miniature form. A compendium is usually rectangular but can also have any other shape; it always opens and has several "shelves" between the lid and the base. All of these levels have individual functions - there may be sun dials, moon dials, star dials, astrolabes, conversion charts, maps, calendars or other data needed for the operation of the instrument. A well equipped compendium may also have extra parts that can be fitted for a particular function; they could be a vane, a attachable plum line or rulers. Schissler is known to have created compendia with additional shelves to put in. As the time and effort involved in producing such a compendium was considerable, they were usually reserved for wealthy travellers or even made to order for members of royal houses. It was usually tailor-made to the traveller’s wishes as the compendium’s functions were intended to determine local time in foreign countries and convert it into the time at home or conduct other studies. The compendium was also meant to show the wealth, the open mind and the fine education of its owner. Due to their scale and multifunctionality, however, the compendia could not be used for scientific purposes because the data they provided was usually not precise enough. The possible variety of instruments in a compendium though was limitless.
Source: Ralf Kern "Wissenschaftliche Instrumente in ihrer Zeit - Vom Astrolab zum mathematischen Besteck", Vol. 1, Cologne 2010, p. 429.
- Herzogliche Kunstkammer, Munich, Inv. No. 1923/Fickler Inventory of 1599
- Uhrenmuseum Wuppertal
- "Das Wuppertaler Uhrenmuseum" Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1971
- "500 Jahre Zeitmessung" Wuppertal: Juergen Abeler, 1968
- "Alte Uhren und ihre Meister" Leipzig: Wilhelm Diebener, 1926
- "Wissenschaftliche Instumente in ihrer Zeit" Cologne: Ralf Kern and publishing house Buchhandlung Walther Koenig, 2010
Case: very good, worn