Card Sundial drawn by Elizabeth Hayes

Contributed by Manaeus

Card Sundial drawn by Elizabeth Hayes

In a barely contested eBay auction, this addition to my collection arrived with a story: In May 1816, Elizabeth B. Hayes, having borrowed a book from a personal or a subscription library in Philadelphia, sat down with a set of drawing instruments and followed the instructions for drawing a sundial on a card. The following day, she copied out the directions for setting and using the sundial. That a woman would engage in a geometry exercise in the first quarter of the 19th century is slightly unusual - even for Philadelphia. This however is a complex exercise and the neatness of her work demonstrates a high proficiency with drawing instruments. I know nothing more of Elizabeth, but whether this was done for personal satisfaction or in some role as an educator, we may recognise a distinct intellect. This kind of sundial was invented in the 16th century and is called a Capuchin, after a supposed similarity in shape to the hoods worn by monks of that Order. Sundials similar to this were quite popular in Catholic Europe, but elsewhere it remained more of a mathematical curiosity. Sundials like these can also be used backwards to find astronomical information, such as the time of sunset.

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About this object

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Location

In or near Philadelphia

Culture
Period

Wednesday, 8 May 1816

Theme
Size
H:
12.7cm
W:
9.6cm
D:
0.1cm
Colour
Material

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