Unusually, this French dial is signed ‘Nicholas Blondeau Fecit Milano’.
English, circa 1635.
Engraved on obverse of equinoctial ring: Elias Allen fecit, with engraved latitude arc, hour ring and bridge with date scale, the latitudes of 24 towns and cities, the table of latitude as follows: London 51 32, Oxford 51 4, Cambridge 52 16, Lecester (Leicester) 52 30, Shrowesberi (Shrewsbury) 52 40, Glocester (Gloucester) 52, Darby (Derby) 53, Cantarberi (Canterbury) 51 10, Calles (Calais) 50 45, Diep (Dieppe) 49 40, Paris 48 50, Amsterdam 52 26, Haga (Hague) 52 12, Lisbona (Lisbon) 38 30, Madrit (Madrid) 40 45, Venetia 45 15, Roma (Rome) 42 2, Notingham 53, Lincoln 53 30, Yorke 54, Newcastell (Newcastle) 54 30, Barwick 55, Edenburg (Edinburgh) 56, Dublin 53 30.
Silver is not a common material for these dials and suggests a rich owner. A similar dial in brass is in the collection of the National Maritime Museum (See Higton, Sundials at Greenwich p. 193-194.) It carries fewer scales than the later ones, and has no altitude quadrant unlike many other English instruments.
Elias Allen was born near Tonbridge in Kent (probably Ashurst), c.1588. He was apprenticed to Charles Whitwell of the Grocers’ Company in 1602, freed in 1611. He was working before this in Blackhorse Alley near Fleet Street, but then moved into Whitwell’s premises (probably) in the Strand, London.
Renowned in his day, he had a close relationship with various contemporary mathematicians, particularly William Oughtred. He took 14 apprentices between 1612 and 1649. He entered the Clockmakers’ Company in 1633 (soon after its foundation); Master of the Company 1637-8. He is known to have sold sundials, astronomical compendia, astronomical quadrants, horary quadrants, sectors, alidades, mariner’s astrolabe, circles of proportion. He died in March 1653.