A fine Victorian lacquered brass and mahogany Orrery. John Davies, London, circa 1870. The shaped mahogany baseboard mounted with circular lacquered-brass ring divided for the months of the year annotated with signs of the Zodiac and figures relating to the actual distance of the earth from the sun in miles every two months, two of the five crossings signed John Davies, LONDON, the centre with silvered Solar sphere (or optional candle) rotated via an ivory-handled crank engaging with the contrate wheel beneath, which in turn is mounted with arm applied with an angled terrestrial globe pivoted on a further pulley to allow controlled rotation during its motion around the sun, the baseboard further applied with distant sphere representing Mars with its two moons rotating on a fixed pivot via a line connection with the contrate pulley beneath the Solar sphere, the whole raised on three turned bun feet, 79cm long, with original pine box containing optional candle to represent the sun (with brass stand) and an extensive series of original annotated watercolour rendered drawings relating to every aspect of the design and construction of the instrument, many dated December 1867. Provenance: Property of a descendant of John Davies. John Davies was born in Tetbury 1839. He was apprenticed to a watchmaker in London; however his interest in scientific instruments was such that he designed and made several one-off examples for his own use, the current and previous lots being two of them. Photography was another interest which resulted in him setting up in business, in partnership with his brother Martin, as photographers, printers, booksellers and stationers at 14 High Street, Weston-super-Mare in 1873. ‘Davies Brothers’ continued to trade after John’s death in 1919 until the premises was destroyed in an air raid in 1942. The current lot incorporates a 1.5 inch terrestrial globe by Newton & Sons dated to circa 1830. An identical globe from the same source is offered as the following lot. The brass ring is annotated with the actual distances of the earth from the sun every two months to allow the observer to appreciate the fact that the motion of the earth follows an elliptic rather than an exact circular orbit. The two moons orbiting Mars (Phobos and Deimos) were not officially discovered until 1877 by the American astronomer Asaph Hall Sn’r. This fact suggests that the bodies around the sphere representing Mars on the current lot must have been incorporated during later design stages.
Clocks & Scientific Instruments
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