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Manuscript astrological volvelle with 3 rotating dials and detailed instructions for use

[Astrological Volvelle]. [Dell' hore planetarie].

[Italy (Genoa?), ca. 1650?].

4to (225 x 160 mm). [6 blank], "31" [= 30], [1], [1 blank] pp. including the paste-downs. Manuscript in dark brown and red ink on paper, written in Italian, with a brown and red astrological volvelle on the paste-down at the end, with 3 rotating dials (5.5, 7.5 and 10.5 cm diameter, those for the sun and moon with pointers) over a fixed dial (13.5 cm diameter), secured with a copper pin through a small round copper disk. Further with planetary signs in the text, and 4 tables on 6 pages. Sewn as a single quire through 6 holes, in heavy, plain paperboard wrappers, cut flush with the text leaves (except for the paste-downs, which are a couple millimetres smaller).

A carefully constructed and drawn, and beautifully preserved astrological volvelle with one fixed and three rotating dials, with a 30-page Italian manuscript discussing planetary dials, with tables associating the planets (including the sun and moon) with the 24 hours of the seven days of the week and providing other data, and with explanations of the tables and volvelle and instructions for their use. Although the manuscript has no title-page or general drop-title, the eight numbered chapters are titled: 1) Dell' origine dell' hore planetarie. 2) Dell' hore planetarie, e loro distributione. 3) Ordine della successione de i pianeti nell' hore planetarie. 4) Modo d'adoperare la precedenti tavola. 5) Modo di sapere quanto longa sia l'hora planetaria in qualtitia hora del giorno in tutto l'anno. 6) Spiegatione della tavola, e modo d'adoperarla. 7) Spiegatione delle ruote mobili posti nil fine di questo libretto. 8) Modo d'adoperare queste ruote.

The outer (fixed) dial of the volvelle has the daytime hours in red in the upper half and the nighttime hours in brown in the lower half, labelled "hore planetarie diurne" and "hore planetarie notturne" respectively. The hours of both the day and the night are numbered twice from 1 to 12 (clockwise and counterclockwise). The first rotating dial gives the 12 months and the twelve zodiac signs, the latter indicated with both the abbreviated name and the sign. The second rotating dial gives the days of the month, numbered 1 to 29 with a space left for 30 (or 30 and 31 together). It has a pointer with a red sun that can be rotated to align with the desired hour and time of year in the outer two dials. The third rotating dial has only a pointer, with a brown moon, which can be aligned with the desired day of the month. Its centre is attractively coloured with a brown square (a separate slip, covering the axis) on a white hexagon on a red circle.

The three-page table with data to relate the planetary hours to the Italian hours for the entire year is based on a latitude of 44 degrees, 30 minutes, which corresponds to Genoa and Bologna, but not to Rome or any of the other largest Italian cities.

The manuscript collates: [A]20 (- A9) = 19 ll. A9 was probably removed during production of the manuscript, for A8v (p. 11) has a catchword pointing to the heading on A10r (p. 12) and there is no gap in the text. The number 7 was accidentally omitted in the pagination. There is a small correction slip on part of the table on p. 26. The paper of the entire manuscript is watermarked: bird in a 45 mm circle = --, the mark centred on a chainline with about 27.5 mm between the chainlines (so that the mark nearly fills two spaces) and with initials A and N inside the circle (the A left above centre and the N right below centre). There is nothing in the circle below the bird (where many marks of this style show three hills). We have found no close match in the literature, but the closest examples seem to date from the 1640s (Heawood 177, 179, 182) and marks in the general style were used in Rome and Genoa but rarely in Bologna. Heawood 748 also records similar initials "AN" in a different mark that may also date from the 1640s. The general style of the manuscript (including that of the lettering for the volvelle) make an earlier date unlikely.

The ink sometimes shows through and has occasionally eaten a small hole through the paper, but the manuscript is otherwise in very good condition, with the volvelle well-preserved and its three rotating dials working smoothly. An Italian manuscript astrological volvelle with 3 rotating dials and detailed instructions for use.