Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

St. Louis  

Sundial: 883
State/Province:  Missouri Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Horizontal Dial Condition:  Good
  Latitude and Longitude: 36° 37.541' N  90° 11.360' W
Location:
  • The Old Courthouse is a block west of the Gateway Arch and is now its visitor center. The dial is south of the east entrance to the courthouse, enclosed by a rod iron fence. Contact the National Park Service for examining the dial under the brass hood.
 
Description:
  • The circular bronze dial sits on an iron pipe, surrounded by a picket fence and protected from the elements by a brass hood. It is a nearly identical dial to the one at the St. Louis Arsenal (NASS dial #847), and was manufactured in the same year, 1859. It is likely that master armorer N. Engels, machinist A. Schaedel, and engraver W. Hawksley created this dial. The Old Courthouse Dial measures 17 inches in diameter, has a large unadorned triangular gnomon, and on the plate has hour lines from 6am to 6pm delineated every 15 minutes. There is a curious second set of hour lines at the top of the dial plate from 10am to 2pm. Hour numbers are in Roman numerals. There are no other engravings on the dial.

    Photo #7 shows Dr. Robert Moore examining the latitude of the gnomon. Because of the mounting bolts, the accuracy could not be confirmed. But a photo of the dial's shadow (#6) taken at 11:29 AM CDT on 14 August 2019 when corrected for longitude, daylight savings time, and the sun's equation of time appears accurate within 5 minutes of time.
 
General Information:Inscription:
  • Owner: US National Park Service
  • None
  • Designer: Major W H Bell, U.S. Army
  • Builder: St. Louis Arsenal - N Engels,A. Schaedel, W. Hawsley
  • Construction Date: 1859, refurbished 1958 and 2017
 
References: Web Links:
  • The Missouri Courthouse honors Dred and Harriet Scott where in 1846 they were declared not citizens of the United States. The case went to the US Supreme Court and in 1857 the same decision was reached. This became one of the causes of the Civil War and ultimately lead to the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the US Constitution.

Attachments Available:

Last Revised: 2019-08-17 17:58
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