Collecting Military Compasses


Wooden inclining compass sundial




Seasonal inclining dial. This is a rectangular boxwood dial with a hinged hour-plate.

On the obverse side, a compass is set into the dial-plate. Marked around the compass is a scale divided into eight with the compass points marked in black characters); each of these divisions is subdivided into marked divisions which correspond to the 12 provinces of China; each geographical area being thought to correspond to an area of the heavens.

The compass has a grey metal base on which the meridian line is marked. It has a steel needle, reddened at its South end, and is covered by a glass plate, held in place by a black ring.

Beneath the hour-plate is a toothed ratchet scale with 13 divisions, marked in black. A brass strut attached to the back of the hour-plate is set in this scale to position the hour-plate.

The front has an hour scale for Chinese hours. 

There is a brass rod gnomon that folds flat when not in use, to be set perpendicular to the hour-plate. On the reverse side of the dial are eight Chinese characters (one in red) giving the name of the maker and the area from which he came: 


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