The Blagrave Dial


David Harber is not the first gnomonics expert in his family. While researching the mathematician and dialist Sir John Blagrave (1561-1611) David unearthed the astonishing fact that this celebrated Elizabethan was a direct ancestor of his.

“Blagrave's astrolabe is one of the all-time great scientific instruments, often referred to and discussed in dialist circles, so to discover from my father that he was family and was born in Sonning, under 10 miles from my workshop, was astonishing” David said.

Moved by this discovery, David has recreated as faithfully as possible a replica of the original Mathematical Jewel.

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Elizabethan detailing on the solid bronze Blagrave armillary sphere

The Blagrave Dial is made of solid bronze. The cast elements which form the cradle to the dial are sculpted to mimic the mythical creatures supporting the sphere, although with a slightly less menacing demeanour.

At the centre of the sphere is a bronze globe with relief land masses depicting the rudimentary understanding of the continents of that time. The land, in burnished bronze, is surrounded by seas that are oxidized to a blue-green verdigris.

Among the other original features are a calibrated scale of time and an azimuth correction scale which allows the dial to be used at any latitude.

Original design of the Mathematical Jewel by John Blagrave in the sixteenth century

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