Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society


NASS_2004_TwoWorldsOneSunAt the 2004 NASS Conference in Tenafly, NJ, Fred Sawyer announced that the Sawyer Dialing Prize would go jointly to Bill Nye and Woodruff (Woody) Sullivan for their efforts to transform the Mars Rover Pancam calibration disk into a Martian sundial (with electronically placed hour lines) that could be viewed on the Internet.  The award was a foregone conclusion at the inception of the prize some years ago, but awaited the success of the Mars Rover landings in 2004. [Photo Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell]

Unfortunately neither Bill nor Woody was able to attend the conference, but a descriptive paper by Bill was read explaining the corresponding Earth Dial project (“Two Worlds, One Sun”), showing similar styled dials in Utah, Honduras, Ohio, Virginia, Chile, Canada, the UK, Spain, and even the South Pole.  Download the PDF created by Nye Labs at revealing how to make a replica of the Mars Dial.

Fred noted that at the winner’s request, the cash prize will be used to thank and compensate Hilda Taylor, the undergraduate student volunteer who did most of the computer work for the Earth Dial project.  Both Bill and Woody received a certificate and a Spectra Dial by Jim Tallman, with the signature motto of the prize and with a declination line for the date of their choice.
Download this file (MakeYourMarsDial_NyeLabs.PDF)Make Your Mars Dial - Nye Labs[Instructions to make a very nice gnomonic sundial]976 kB
NASS_2005_Tony_MossAt the 2005 NASS Conference in Chicago IL, Fred Sawyer presented the Sawyer Dialing Prize to Tony Moss, “in recognition of his achievement in combining superb craftsmanship, a lifetime’s teaching experience, and a constant desire to share knowledge, methods, and techniques in the practical art of dialing.”  The prize consisted of a certificate, a cash award, and a specially commissioned Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman.  Tony’s prize money went into the construction of the Jamestown 400th anniversary dial, dedicated in 2007 during the NASS Conference and placed at the Analemma Society’s Observatory Park (Turner Farm Park), Great Falls, VA.

NASS_2006_Hollander_DialAt the 2006 NASS Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Fred Sawyer announced that the Sawyer Dialing Prize for 2006 is given to Hendrik Hollander, “for his innovative design of a mean-time planar sundial with oblique conical gnomon and modified hour lines and day curves – resulting in a sundial adapted to modern timekeeping while retaining the aesthetic appeal of the familiar dial face.” Fer J. de Vries was able to present the dial to Hendrik in The Netherlands.

One of Hendrik’s conical gnomon dials is on the cover of the September 2006 [Vol. 13, No. 3] issue of The Compendium.  Inside that issue Hendrik explains in detail how the cone dial and a number of other bi-gnomon sundials work.   In response to the Sawyer Dialing Prize Hendrik sent a letter of thanks to the NASS conference.

NASS_2007_MacOglesbyAt the 2007 NASS Conference in McLean VA, Fred Sawyer presented the Sawyer Dialing Prize to Mac Oglesby, citing Mac’s unusual dials and his willingness to help others make dials, passing his educational efforts among several generations of people, and his promotion of community interest in sundials.  Once again this year the prize included a custom Spectra Sundial designed and produced by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.  In accepting the prize, Mac thanked many people who had helped him:  Bill Maddux, who introduced him to dials, Fred Sawyer, who brought him into NASS, Bob Terwilliger about Compendium articles, Fer J. de Vries, who helped him through email correspondence, Tony Moss for ideas, and David Roth, with slides of Bill Maddux and Mac and their work.  Mac then distributed cylinder azimuth dials he had made as a gift for each conference participant – specific to his/her own location.


NASS_2008_Kate_PondAt the 2008 NASS Conference in St. Louis MO, Fred Sawyer presented the 2008 Sawyer Dialing Prize to Kate Pond “for the success of her World Sculpture Project.  This project has brought dialing, an appreciation of light and shadow and new connections between traditional art and science to children and adults in countries and cultures around the world.”  The prize consisted of a certificate, a cash award, and a specially commissioned trophy Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman.

Kate Pond presented a summary of her award winning world project.  “My sculpture invites participation: with people, and with the sun, shadows and alignments at different seasons of the year.  The position of the sun, moon, and stars create a structure for me, like a painter might use a rectangle as a frame of reference.”  The first sculpture of her project “ZigZag”, is a simple elegant pipe structure that tracks the time from 10 am to 2 pm on the equinox at latitude 45 degrees, the border between Canada and the US at the dial’s location, Stanstead Quebec.  The next sculpture was SOLEKKO at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, Oslo, Norway.  Here the sculpture is a triangular cone that casts no shadow at noon on the equinox.  All the projects involved children actively playing and learning and included time capsules with art and their messages for the future. Other sculptures were created in Japan, Hawaii, and New Zealand.  This last sculpture “Telling Stones” used stone alignments for the rising and setting of summer and winter solstices, equinox, and the rising of the Pleiades in June (the Matariki marking the Maori new year) and the rising of Antares (the Maori, Rehua), at the beginning of summer in December.  You can find more of Kate Pond’s works at

NASS_2009_John_DavisAt the 2009 NASS Conference in Portland OR, Fred Sawyer announced that the Sawyer Dialing Prize would go to John Davis of the British Sundial Society, “in recognition of the superb quality of the dials he has created, and in appreciation of his historical research to enhance our knowledge of the dialists who preceded us and the craft they left us.”

The award money was used by John to help place one of his magnificent double horizontal sundials on the campus of Purdue North Central University in Indiana. John was able to show off the Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials. Fred Sawyer reviewed the portfolio of sundials and restorations by John, showing a replica of a 17 th century double-horizontal dial, several small engraved horizontals, a beautiful 14” circular dial and several dials based on the “Grocers’ Pattern” of the 18 th century.

John created a dial plate for the Isaac Newton sculptured dials at Leicester University and UCLA. In the bronze casting it appears that Newton’s prism casts a beam of light onto an equatorial dial. John has also created everything from vertical dials to pocket dials, including replicas of Humfrey Cole’s 1569 designs. John has also been very active in the restoration of many dials as well. After the award announcement, Fred gave John Davis’ presentation on John Seller, a sundial maker and probable forger who was located in London and worked during the 17 th century.

NASS_2010_GottesmanThe 2010 Sawyer Dialing Prize goes to William L. Gottesman of Burlington, Vermont, "In recognition of his committment to innovation and high precision design in sundials which combine tradition with 21st century advances."  Bill is designer of the Renaissance Sundial, a spiral sundial that uses curved mirrors to show the time to within 30 seconds.  His dial is available at

Bill collaborated with Kate Pond to design the Equatorial Band Sundial, dedicated during the 2010 NASS conference at Champlain College with the title "Come Light, Visit Me."  On a smaller scale, but with no less precision, Bill worked with Fred Sawyer to realize the Sawyer Equant Sundial that will show both solar and clock time.  To "advertise" the 2010 NASS conference, Bill even designed the back end of his car as a sundial, using the radio antenna as a gnomon.

As in past years, Bill was presented with $200 to fund a sundial project of his choice and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials:



  • Sundials for Starters
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  • Conferences
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  • Sawyer Dialing Prize
    Fred Sawyer, in cooperation with the North American Sundial Society, established a continuing yearly award, the Sawyer Dialing Prize to be presented by NASS to an individual for accomplishments in or contributions to dialing and the dialing community.
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  • Terwilliger Sundials
    In these pages is the famous tub sundial created by Robert Terwilliger using his laser trigon to lay out hour lines on a very irregular surface to create a working sundial.
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  • Biographies

    Who are today's sundial artisans?  Here are several bioghraphies of several artisans that show the unique combination of talents in art, engineering, and mathematics.

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  • Sunquest Sundial

    This section is dedicated to Richard Schmoyer who invented the Sunquest sundial.  Please visit as well.

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