Monday, May 07, 2012

Mystery Sundial

The other day, I was at a local salvage yard and noticed an unusual sundial.  I took a bad cellphone photo:

but obviously I cut off a portion of the detail on either side.  Still, you can see that it has a 12 at the top and a 6 at the bottom, and you can take my word that the 3 and 9 were in the places you would expect.  The unusual part, of course, is the recessed area in the center, with numbers counting up from 1 through 9, and then B.  Or perhaps they start at B and then run 1 through 9.  And there's pointer, pointing to 7.  What the what?

I did some rudimentary research and posted the above to one of my Google + circles, but it remained a mystery.

So today I went back to the yard and took more photos.  I had half a mind to just go ahead and buy the thing, but more on that in a moment.  There was more sun today, so the following shots have lots of shadows, one thing the overcast of the other day prevented.

Here's a side angle view.  The gnomon clearly casts a shadow on the outside ring, so it can presumably tell time.

I tried to get an overhead shot, but I couldn't see the back of my camera while holding it up in the air, so this is the best I could do.  Bonus: my feet!

Getting down and dirty, I could see that there was a name stamped in the base.  (Oh, by the way, the pedestal is separate from the top.)  Not sure how well you can make it out here, but it says "UNIQUESTONE 2008".  The UniqueStone name is also stamped into the top part.

You can also see the price.  That was less than the maximum number I had in my head, but the fact that it's just a four year old item gave me second thoughts.  On the other hand, a sundial (slash birdbath, let's face it, that top part is dying to be filled with water) would cost at least that much.  I'll probably go back later in the week and buy it if it's still there.

When I got home, I found a UniqueStone website, and lo and behold, here it is in "The Biltmore Collection".

I can't find a price for it anywhere, and I'm still perplexed by the sequence1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 B.  I guess the B is for Biltmore?

The mystery continues.

[EDIT:  Here it is at one retailer for $175, so not such a fantastic deal at the salvage yard, especially since the gnomon is so rusted.  Still don't understand the inner dial or the pointer ....]


At 9/5/12 15:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might it be an elevator floor indicator? B=basement + floors 1-9

At 9/5/12 15:55, Blogger Larry Mac said...

That is what finally hit me late on Monday when I was looking at the photos again.

B is for Basement, that's good enough for me.

For the record, I'm over the whole thing. Spotting it initially at the salvage yard made me think it was older, but it's just a 4 year old piece of kitsch. I have no particular fondness for the Biltmore estate (it costs more than $50 to get in there, and they don't even have rides!) Also, it's in North Carolina, and that whole state is dead to me.


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