Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Monticello  

Sundial 470
State/Province:  Virginia Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Globe Condition:  Replica
Latitude:   38° 00.62' N Longitude:   78° 27.14' W
Location:
  • Monticello North Terrace
 
Description:
  • A replica of Jefferson's lost dial, which he recounted in 1817, "My dial captivates every body foreign as well as home-bred, as a handsome object & accurate measurer of time." Made according to Jefferson's design, the replica dial is a 10 1/2 inch painted wood sphere with horizontal lines drawn for the equator, Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Longitudinal lines are drawn between the two tropics to indicate the hours of the day. A gnomon fixed to the poles swings around the globe until it casts the smallest meridian shadow. The original sphere was made of black locust wood but the replica is mahogany because it is "more durable, stable and easier to find." The base was originally a model of a capital, the top part of a column, that Latrobe had designed for the U.S. Capitol. It was unique, featuring ears of corn in motif. When Jefferson received the base from Latrove, "it looked bald for want of something to crown it" and so Jefferson designed a globe that "might be made to perform the functions of a dial."
 
General Information:
  • Owner: National Park Service, Monticello Estate
  • Designer: Thomas Jefferson
  • Builder: Unknown. Replica coordinated by William J. Beiswanger, director of restoration.
  • Construction Date: 2001 replica of 1816 dial
 
References:
  • Washington Times December 10, 2001 Metropolitan Section Page B2 (copy in file)
 
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