Catalogue 32
Please click below to browse

Martayan Lan Search

To Order or Inquire:
(800) 423-3741
or (212) 308-0018
Fax: (212) 308-0074
E-mail: [email protected]

70 East 55th Street, (Heron Tower)
New York, New York 10022

Scientific Instruments

Table of Contents


[HOROLOGY] / [SPANISH] GUTIERREZ, Bartolome. Reloxes. En este trat(ad)o si ponen cosas de Horologiographia. Quiere deçir cosas de la discripçion y fabrica y uso de algunos reloxes solares orizontales y verticales. Marbella, 1610.

4to manuscript [20.5 x 15.0 cm], (64) ff. (numbered 178-220 and 226-246; first written in a prenumbered blank book?), with 12 full-page illustrations and a further 16 pages with diagrams and drawings from a few lines to three-quarter-page in size. Bound in contemporary limp vellum, red sprinkled edges, in a modern cloth slipcase. Wrinkling, wear and staining to covers, front hinge and cords broken, bookblock loosening. Ink burn to title page and occasionally elsewhere not affecting legibility, dampstaining to fore-edge not affecting legibility


Unpublished, illustrated Spanish manuscript on the construction and use of sundials written at the Convento de San Francisco in Marbella in 1610. This handbook on Reloxes, apparently the work of a certain cleric Bartolome Gutierrez, who signed two sections at the rear of the volume (ff. 234 & 236), represents a more practical approach to gnomonics than is usually encountered in this period, treating not only astronomical fundamentals and best practices for calculating, plotting and orienting dial faces and gnomons, but also certain dos-and-don’ts for the actual construction of sundials. Concerning a certain type of vertical wall-mounted sundial, for example, we are told how first to design the dial face on paper, how to transfer this design to the surface of the wall, what colors are to be used, to beware of wet paint, and that varnishing the finished products will increase its longevity (195v-196v). Several finished designs are presented in fine full-page drawings which depict ‘chapter rings’ in the form of architectural mouldings that would frame the device when inserted into or painted on the exterior wall of a building.

Fascinatingly, opposite his finely drawn title page (itself rather like the dial face of a clock and featuring Psalm 38:6 [“Behold thou has made my days measurable”]), Gutierrez has written out the sonnet “Astrologia” from the pastoral novel La Arcadia (1598) by Lope de Vega (1562-1635), theatrical giant of the Spanish Golden Age, who in 1610 was in the middle of his most productive literary phase.

Far from losing market share to mechanical clockmakers during a transitional period for this new technology, creators of sundials such as Gutierrez, in fact saw prospects for their devices improve: “This was primarily due to the need to periodically readjust mechanical clocks, bringing them into correspondence with the local solar time, as well as to the increasing awareness of the utility of public and private timekeeping” (Lloyd, 14). The Convento de San Francisco in Marbella (now destroyed) was founded only in 1593, and so by the time Gutierrez began to write out the present volume in early November of 1610 (“Començo se a escrivir en S. Francisco de Marbella a çinco dias del mes de Noviembre de 1610 Años”), the monastic community there might still have had a practical need to outfit their buildings with reloxes solares, as would have been standard practice in the establishment of new ecclesiastical and civic structures both in Europe and (increasingly) in the Americas in the early the 17th century.

That Gutierrez envisioned his manual as an especially practical text is underlined by the fact that he seems to have had ample access to more theoretically sophisticated horological texts in the library of the Convento de San Francisco: For example, he cites Vitruvius (f. 211v), as well as the navigator and mathematician Rodrigo de Zamorano (1524-1623; known for Los seis libros primeros dela Geometria de Euclides [1576], Cronologia y reportorio de la razon de los tiempos [1584], and Compendio del arte de navegar [1581]) and the mathematician Juan Peréz de Moya (c. 1512-1596; Tratado de cosas de Astronomia, y cosmographia, y philosophia natural [1573]; Fragmentos mathematicos en que se tratan cosas de geometria y astronomia … y reloxes [1568]).

Over 14 chapters and several appended sections, Gutierrez discusses both horizontal and vertical reloxes oriented to various cardinal directions, gnomic triangles, the use of ancillary instruments (some of which he illustrates), the compass rose (stella maris), reckoning by the polestar, the various way different nations divide their days into hours, and the like. The latitudes of 22 Iberian cities, from Barcelona in the north to Tarifa in the south, are provided in a list.

* S. A. Lloyd, Ivory Diptych Sundials, 1570-1750; N. Cabrillana, Marbella en el Siglo de Oro

Back to Scientific Instruments | Table of Contents

Back to the Top