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Crehore Sundial
Crehore Sundial
Crehore Sundial
Crehore Sundial
Crehore Sundial
Crehore Sundial
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Crehore Sundial

  • This exceptional sundial was created by Albert Crehore, a pioneer of nuclear physics
  • It was given by Crehore to celebrated telegraph and radio engineer Sir William Preece
  • Uniquely, this sundial accounts for the lengthening and shortening of hours throughout the year
  • This sundial is one of only a few of its kind ever created by the famed inventor
  • Get complete item description here
$118,500
Item No. 31-9452

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Description
A rare and highly important melding of science and art, this fixed latitude sundial was invented by renowned physicist Albert Cushing Crehore and presented to celebrated telegraph and radio engineer Sir William Preece, KCB FRS, for his residence at Penhros, Caernarvon, Wales. A significant breakthrough in the understanding of the earth’s rotation by one of the world’s foremost experts in atomic theory, this unique dial evokes the majesty of ancient Rome and the knowledge of. . .
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A rare and highly important melding of science and art, this fixed latitude sundial was invented by renowned physicist Albert Cushing Crehore and presented to celebrated telegraph and radio engineer Sir William Preece, KCB FRS, for his residence at Penhros, Caernarvon, Wales. A significant breakthrough in the understanding of the earth’s rotation by one of the world’s foremost experts in atomic theory, this unique dial evokes the majesty of ancient Rome and the knowledge of history’s greatest mathematicians and astronomers.

Crafted of cast bronze, this classically elegant sundial exhibits a highly distinctive shape. Instead of having the flat circular base of other sundials, the “dial” is a semi-circular plate engraved with the hour scale of 4-12-8, plus calendar and minute scales. In addition, the coordinates for Sir William’s residence at Penhros are engraved below the inscription “Greenwich Mean Time.” Five Corinthian columns, each surmounted with spheres, and a sixth, surmounted by an American eagle and to which the upper end of the wire gnomon is attached, surround the curved plane. The effect is that of a Greco-Roman temple, where knowledge of the spheres was the object of worship.

Patented in 1905 and also known as a fixed latitude equinoctial mean-time dial, the Crehore sundial tells standard time without the necessity of making corrections due to its conical shape. The times of sunrise and sunset throughout the year may be read directly from the dial face. Unlike the common sundial, which indicates apparent solar time and loses time, little by little, over the year, Crehore’s sundial accounts for the lengthening and shortening of hours throughout the year. The lengths of days and nights are thus indicated. Also shown are the places on the horizon where the sun rises and sets, which differ widely from winter to summer.

This sundial is one of only a few of its kind ever created by the famed inventor, with the first example erected in Yonkers, NY. Today, only three others are known to exist according to the North American Sundial Society—one at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio; one formerly at Northwestern University and now at a private residence in Evanston, Illinois; and one at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which is the only functioning one on public display. 

This revolutionary sundial was pictured in The Horological Review in June 1907 as part of a two-part series, “A Scientific Elucidation of Sun Dials.”

Cast by Jno. Williams Brass Foundry of New York, NY

Albert Cushing Crehore, PhD.
Albert Crehore is one of the giants upon whose shoulders many nuclear physicists stand today. A professor at Dartmouth College and Cornell University and author of important works about the nature of the atom and electromagnetic theory, he first built the prototype of this sundial while still a boy.

Crehore came from an illustrious family. His cousin Harvey Cushing was Director of Harvard Medical School and a professor at Yale Medical School. His uncle Edward P. William was co-founder of the Sherwin Williams Company, and his cousin (Williams’ daughter) Sarah Granger Williams, married Abram Garfield, the youngest son of President Garfield.

His family was also mathematically inclined, and Crehore displayed a talent for engineering quite early. An interest in astronomy led him to “wonder what sort of a path the shadow of a point would make, cast by sun-light upon an horizontal plane surface.” After doing a rudimentary experiment in his backyard with a sharp stick and a drawing board, and discovering that the shadow made a curve when marked at intervals, he saw that it was the intersection of a place with a cone, or a hyperbola. Crehore was able to find the equation for this curve, which could be adjusted for other times of the year, even for each month. This was the beginning of his famous sundial.

Crehore’s inventions were numerous and influential. With George Squier, he developed a magneto-optical streak camera, "The Polarizinq Photo-chronograph," in 1896 in order to measure the speed of projectiles both inside cannon and directly after they left the cannon barrel. This was one of the earliest photonic programs. They also worked to develop sychronous AC telegraphic systems. His biggest contribution was that of multiplexing in 1910, for which he was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1919. He also received a patent for his telegraphic alphabet or code in 1921. Squier, it must be noted, went on to create “Muzak.”

Sir William Preece, KCB, FRS
Preece was a Welsh electrical engineer who was a major figure in the development and introduction of wireless telegraphy and the telephone in Great Britain. Trained under Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, Preece was a contemporary and friend of Thomas Edison, Lord William Thomson Kelvin, and Guglielmo Marconi. He was instrumental in securing the collaboration of the British and Colonial Post Office in furthering Marconi’s work. Preece originated his own telegraphic system in 1892, created a railroad signaling system that increased railway safety and also introduced into Great Britain the first telephones, patented by Alexander Graham Bell. Preece was knighted in 1899, was an officer of the Legion d’Honneur, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society.  

Early 20th Century

65 7/8" high x 20 1/2" in diameter
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Crehore Sundial
Period: 20th Century
Origin: Other
Type: Miscellaneous
Depth: 20.5 in. (52.07 cm)
Width: 20.5 in. (52.07 cm)
Height: 65.88 in. (167.32 cm)
Buy with Confidence

At M.S. Rau, we are committed to building a long-term, rewarding relationship with each and every client. That’s why your purchase is backed by our 125% guarantee.

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