Sun Dials

Sun Dials are devices for telling the time and work by using the position of the sun. The classical sun dial is comprised of a flat disc or dial, depicting the hours of the day in the same manner as a clock face, plus a central pillar called a gnomon, which casts a shadow. The shadow moves throughout the day, in relation to the movement of the sun, which causes it to point to a time marked on the dial. This device has been in use since antiquity and is now often featured in home or garden decoration.

Traders in garden or home furniture and curiosities can market sun dials as an interesting, classical decoration. These devices are available from suppliers at for both ornamental and timekeeping purposes. Dials can vary in size and shape, as well as design, from simplistic stone dials to brass novelties.

Sun dials made for decoration will often have elaborate gnomons. The typical sundial image is of a large, ornate gnomon of wrought iron, worked into a triangular shape for added support and adorned with Victorian patterns. This would sit on top of a metal dial with numbers written in roman numerals. The time is read from the tip or sharp edge of the shadow cast by the gnomon.

Dials typically stand on a small, raised pillar, to better catch the sun’s rays. This adds to the decorative appeal of the device, forming a kind of centrepiece. Smaller models for indoor decoration may just have a small stand, similar to a trophy. This kind of fun item can be marketed with other timekeeping devices, such as clocks and watches, as a quirky alternative to the norm.

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