Restoration of a small brass garden sundial from the 1930s

Brass sundial from the 1930s restored with a new gnomonThis small brass garden sundial had lost its gnomon. It is dearly loved by its owner who has known it since childhood, and she wanted to have it restored. As often happens at different times the family moved home and the sundial moved too. It was once in a garden at Montrose, and then in Elgin, and now it has a sunny place in a cottage garden at Dunblane.

The dial itself is interesting. It is brass with hand-carved lettering, and an attractive stylised image of the sun at its centre. The surrounding motto in ‘olde worlde’ script reads: “Amydst ye flowr’s I tell ye houres.” This inscription appears in the catalogue of garden ornaments and sundials by J P White of Bedford, England, and the design of the dial is from the Art Deco period of the 1930s.

Before we began making a new gnomon for the dial, we checked the angles of the hour lines. They ought to match the gnomon angle, which should be the correct latitude for the garden. In fact we discovered that the hour lines belonged to the latitude of Paris, which is 48°N, much further south than Dunblane at 56°N. The J P White catalogue explains that they used to have standard designs of dial, and this must be one of these. The error in reading time at a different latitude is fairly small. We made the new gnomon with the 48° angle.