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Compasses
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The term "compass" or "compasses" denotes a wide range of instruments for drawing, measurement, and proportional calculation. Besides the more common compasses for drawing circumferences, widespread since antiquity, the Renaissance has left us a great number of special compasses, whose names reflect their specific functions: oval compasses to draw ellipses, hyperbolas and parabolas; two-point compasses—also called dividers—to divide lines and transfer measurements; nautical compasses, to track routes on sea-charts; compasses with curved points, called gunner's compasses, to measure mouths of cannons, cannon balls, and columns; three-legged compasses to reproduce maps; four-point compasses, or reduction compasses, to enlarge or reduce drawings, divide lines and circumferences proportionally, and draw polygons; eight-point compasses to measure fractions of degrees and carry out proportional calculations; proportional compasses to perform arithmetic, geometric, and trigonometric calculations and to measure weights, gradients, and distances for military use; and sophisticated surveying compasses that combined a magnetic compass, a windrose, and optical sights for surveying and for drawing topographic maps.

Objects
Barrois compass

Barrois compass

Inv. 656
Franz Schwartz, Brussels, first half 18th cent.

Caliper compass

Caliper compass

Inv. 3693
Peugeot Frères, French, 19th cent.

Caliper compass

Caliper compass

Inv. 652, 3706
Maker unknown, Italian, 17th cent.

Compass known as Michelangelo's compass

Compass known as Michelangelo's compass

Inv. 1357
Maker unknown, Italian, 16th cent.

Dividers

Dividers

Inv. 1000
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Dividers

Dividers

Inv. 1486/bis
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Dividers

Dividers

Inv. 2515
Benvenuto della Volpaia, Florence, 16th cent.

Drawing compass

Drawing compass

Inv. 3684
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Four-point proportional compasses

Four-point proportional compasses

Inv. 3567
Giovanni Maccari, Rome, 1666

Geometric and military compass

Geometric and military compass

Inv. 2430
Galileo Galilei, ca. 1606

Geometric and military compass

Geometric and military compass

Inv. 3540
Giovanni Maccari, Italian, 1676

Military compass

Military compass

Inv. 1277
Maker unknown, 16th cent.

Military compass

Military compass

Inv. 3692
Maker unknown, French, 18th cent.

Nautical compass

Nautical compass

Inv. 599
Maker unknown, English, late 16th cent.

Nautical compass

Nautical compass

Inv. 600
Maker unknown, English, late 16th cent.

Plumb level (gunner's level) and proportional compasses

Plumb level (gunner's level) and proportional compasses

Inv. 3695
Pierre Galland, 18th cent.

Proportional and surveying compasses

Proportional and surveying compasses

Inv. 2510
Georg Zorn, Augsburg, 1618

Proportional compasses

Proportional compasses

Dep. GN, Roma
Antonio Costa, Italian, 17th cent.

Proportional compasses

Proportional compasses

Inv. 650
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Proportional compasses

Proportional compasses

Inv. 3647
Jacques Canivet, Paris, 18th cent.

Proportional compasses

Proportional compasses

Inv. 3676
Pierre Le Maire, Paris, 18th cent.

Proportional compasses

Proportional compasses

Inv. 2512
Jost Miller, Strasbourg, 1616

Reduction compass

Reduction compass

Inv. 3686
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Reduction compass

Reduction compass

Inv. 655
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Reduction compass

Reduction compass

Inv. 688
Agostino Rastrelli, Florence, 1719

Reduction compass

Reduction compass

Inv. 633
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Single-handed dividers

Single-handed dividers

Inv. 1478
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Single-handed dividers

Single-handed dividers

Inv. 1479
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Surveying compass

Surveying compass

Inv. 1280
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Surveying compass

Surveying compass

Inv. 3687
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Surveying compass

Surveying compass

Inv. 1471
Maker unknown, Italian, 17th cent.

Surveying compass

Surveying compass

Inv. 2527
Humphrey Cole, London, 1575

Three-legged compass

Three-legged compass

Inv. 1480
Maker unknown, Italian, 17th cent.