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 or the dialing community. Each year a panel makes recommendations of those people who have significantly contributed to the art of dialing by their dialing art, their ability to teach and educate, their superb craftsmanship, their care in dial restoration, or in their gnomonic skills in design and computer programming tools for others.

At each North American Sundial Society conference since 2000, the winner is announced and awarded with a certificate of recognition, a small trophy sundial, and a cash award of $250.  Many of the awardees have chosen to use their cash award to help further the art of dialing by donating it to others, increasing the scope of sundialing around the world.  Funding for this award has come from the Sawyer family with a matching donation by NASS.

The certificate and trophy dial presented to each recipient are inscribed with the Greek letters ZHΘI.    The ancient Greeks used the letters of their alphabet as numerals.   When the hours of a dial were to be numbered from dawn to sunset, the numerals used were A, B, Γ, Δ, E, S, Z, H, Θ, I, IA, and IB for the successive hour intervals. By chance, the sequence from the seventh through the tenth hour (i.e. noon through mid-afternoon) spells a Greek word ZHΘI, the second person singular imperative meaning: Live!  The Greeks carried this thought further, and an epigram on the certificate, attributed to Lucian - a second century Greek satirist - exhorts:



The first three Sawyer Dialing prize recipients received a Universal Equatorial Dial designed and crafted by Tony Moss of Lindisfarne Sundials, UK. [Tony is now retired and the last of the Lindisfarne Sundials has been made.]  The dial can be set for any latitude and is a special edition containing the NASS logo and the imperative ZHΘI.

Since 2003, Sawyer Dialing prize recipients have received Spectra Sundials crafted by Jim Tallman.  Hundreds of Spectra Sundials can be located around the world at The World of Artisan Sundials - Spectra Sundial Locations Worldwide .  The unique design of each Sawyer Dial is given as an html link at the bottom of each award description.

NASS_2001_FredSawyerDialIn recognition of Frederick W. Sawyer’s effort as president of The North American Sundial Society, editor of NASS’s journal The Compendium, and for giving his time and talent to sundial design and the promotion of sundialing around the world, NASS commissioned Tony Moss to design and craft a sundial for Fred.

The horizontal dial was presented at the 2001 annual NASS conference.  It has a gold-plated hand-pierced gnomon with his initials that is set on a phosphor bronze plate engraved for his home latitude.

NASS 2023 Francois Blateyron and DialThe 2023 Sawyer Dialing Prize went to François Blateyron "for his creation and continual development of the Shadows software for the design of sundials and for his constant encouragement of the construction of sundials around the world." François focused his interest in sundials to creating a versatile and easy to use software program for computing in 1997 and has been improving it ever since. Now, many different types of sundials and astrolabes can be calculated, supported by instructions in 17 languages and a database of more than 5000 locations around the world. Part of the popularity of his software is the ability to export vector format for artistic additions or in DXF format compatible with computer aided design software for engraving and tooling machines or 3D printing. François Blateyron in his article "The Sundial, from Antiquity to Computer Drawing" in Astronomy Magazine March-April 2022 stated his goal that, "it is evident how the talent of some can be expressed once the software eliminates the difficulty of the calculations."

Fred Sawyer and Steve Lelievre met with François via a Zoom conference to discuss sundials and his award. Fred sent François the award certification, the traditional cash prize of $200 and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials that François proudly displayed in his window (left photo above).

Read more at:

NASS 2022 Frans MaesThe 2022 Sawyer Dialing Prize went to Frans Maes "for his creation of an introductory course on dialing, built on the idea of supervised self-study; for his successful multi-year running of that course in Europe; and for his inspiration of NASS’ development of a North American version.”

Fred presented Frans with an award certification, the traditional cash prize of $250 and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.

Frans acknowledged the Sawyer Dialing Prize with two short video presentations. He thanked Fred and NASS for being awarded this year's Sawyer Dialing Prize saying "of course I'm honored and I'm flattered to be considered to join the league of so many great dialists that won the Prize before. I'm also proud to be the third Dutchman that was awarded this prize. Fer de Vries was the first awardee in 2000 and Hendrik Hollander in 2005." 25 years ago, Frans was looking for ways to embellish his backyard and someone suggested a sundial. "I didn't know anything of sundials, so I looked around for information and I found Waugh's book (Sundials - Their Theory and Construction) on my own bookcase... it made interesting reading and the sundial type that appealed to me was the analemmatic sundial... I liked most that you have to do something to read the time." He joined the Netherlands Sundial Society, and wrote about his sundial. Some years ago, while listening to presentation about a very interesting sundial, that included Babylonian and Italian hours, he hear someone ask: "Mister speaker, please can you explain what Italian hours are?...[and] I thought: what we do need is a form of internal education,...because if you know more of a subject, it makes it more interesting." Frans decided to write a course that included self assessment questions to force students not only to read the text, but to internalize the concepts. And a final submittal question "not necessarily a difficult question, but: no answer, no new lesson." Thus Frans Maes began writing lessons and sending them out to students. NASS has now used his material to create a similar course centered on North America, but still following the style of assessment questions and a final submitted question to proceed to the next lesson. Frans Maes, your dedication to educating people about sundials has now gone international.

NASS 2021 Sara SchechnerThis year's Sawyer Dialing Prize went to Dr. Sara Schechner “for her career in education and conservation of our dialing heritage, and in particular for her authorship of Time of Our Lives – Sundials of the Adler Planetarium”.

Dr. Schechner is a historian of science, and in particular, of astronomical instruments. She is the David P. Wheatland Curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments at Harvard University. She is also a lecturer on the history of science at Harvard. Previously at the Adler Planetarium, she was pivotal in authoring and producing Time of Our Lives.

Fred presented Sara with an award certification, the tradional cash prize of $200 and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.

She acknowledged the Sawyer Dialing Prize with a presentation on “Sundials That Tell Us More Than the Time”. In her talk, she examined sundials that indicate the political, religious, economic and geographic context in which they were created from the humble dial to the princely treasure. Sundials could be found embedded in eating utensils, swords, guns, or your writing kit. Early consumers wanted pocket sundials with style, much the way iphone and smartphone users today show off their technology. Cities specialized in the manufacture of different styled dials. Living in London you might have an equatorial from Augsburg or in Paris you would choose the Butterfield Dial. For the rich, dials were of silver and gold. The middle class might have brass and the lower class might use a shepherd’s dial out of paper and wood.

During 2020 no NASS Conference was held due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Sawyer Dialing prize is held for 2021.

NASS 2019 Denis SavoieThis year's Sawyer Dialing Prize was awarded to Dénis Savoie at the NASS annual conference in Denver, CO.  The certificate recognizes Dénis "for his long career of education, reserarch, and publications related to gnomonics and his outstanding portfolio of public sundial designs and restorations."  Early in his career Dénis was significantly influenced by Morando, who was excellent at calculating planetary motions and played an important part in the reduction of astrometry data from the Hipparcos satellite. In his honor, asteroid 5702 was named Morando thanks to the submission by Dénis Savoi and Jean Meeus, and endorsed by L. D. Schmadel. 

Dénis has designed many large sundials, including the giant "Nef Solaire" on the A9 motorway near Tave. Dénis has done many projects with Marc Goutaudier, including the creation of a sundial on the top of the SEIS Seismometer on the InSight mission to Mars.  The sundial provided precise orientation of the seismometer using a unique shadow calibration ring.

At the fall annual meeting of the Commission des Cadrans Solaires - a subgroup of the Societe Astronomique de France - on 16 Nov 2019 the President of CCS, Philippe Sauvageot, presented Dénis with the traditional Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials and the Sawyer Dialing Prize certificate.  He already received the Sawyer Award Prize of $200.

2018 Sawyer Award - Gian CassalegnoThis year's Sawyer Dialing prize was awarded to Gianpiero Casalegno at the NASS annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  The certificate recognizes Gian for "his achievements in harnessing modern digital technology to the benefit of traditional dialists around the world - 18 Aug 2018."

Gian was not able to attend the conference to receive the Sawyer Award, so Fred Sawyer read the certificate to NASS attendees and forwarded the award certificate and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials to Gian in Italy.  Gian chose to use the traditional cash prize of $200 to support the Bellingham Mural Sundial.

Gian prepared an acceptance speech that was read by Sawyer.  Gian's began his talk with "My main contribution to gnomonics has been the development of several software programs [including Orologi Solari available to all at]  to help other people dealing with sundial design, simulation and restoration. Therefore today I would like to present a survey of my programs highlighting some unique aspects that could have been neglected or underestimated by most people."