Hartmann, Georg

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Hartmann, Georg

(b. Eggolsheim, near Forchheim, Germany, 9 February 1489; d. Nuremberg, Germany, 9 April 1564)

instrument making, mathematics.

Hartmann studied mathematics with Heinrich Glareanus and theology at Cologne in 1510. In Italy during the summer of 1518 he became friendly with Copernicus’ brother Andreas, began designing sundials, and discovered the magnetic dip. The (inaccurate) declination of six degrees which he found for Rome, probably the earliest determination on land, was revealed in a letter to Duke Albert of Prussia dated 4 March 1544, but it remained unpublished until 1831. (Robert Norman published his independent discovery in The Newe Attractive [1580].) Settling at Nuremberg in 1518, Hartmann designed and produced timepieces, astrolabes, globes, quadrants, armillary spheres, a star altimeter, and the caliber gauge, which he invented in 1540 to determine the weights of cannonballs from the muzzle sizes of cannons.

Hartmann was vicar of St. Sebaldus from 1518 to 1544 and in 1527 became chaplain of St. Moritz. He was triendly with Willibald Pirkheimer and Albrecht Dürer, about whose death he later reported (see E. Zinner, Astronomische, p. 357). From Regiomontanus’ literary estate Hartmann treasured a fragment of a letter with important information; he was familiar with Regiomontanus’ handwriting, his physical appearance from a portrait, and several astrolabes. In 1526, at Hartmann’s request, Johann Schöner published Regiomontanus’ manuscript on Ptolemy’s optics, Problemata XXIX. Saphaeae (“Twenty-nine Problems With the Saphea”). Following Werner’s death in 1528 and the dispersal of his manuscripts, Hartmann rescued two on spherical triangles and “De meteoroscopiis,” which he gave to Joachim Rheticus in 1542, making a more accurate copy for himself; in 1544 Rheticus published the De revolutionibus chapter on triangles as Nic. Copernici De lateribus et angulis triangulorum tum planerum rectilineorum tum sphaericorum libellus and dedicated it to Hartmann. Hartmann published Joh. Pisani Perspectiva communis in 1542 and an astrological work, Directorium, in 1554. His unpublished “Fabrica horologium” (1527) included figures from Ptolemy’s Organum and influenced Sebastian Münster’s Compositio horologiorum of 1531.


I. Original Works. The letter from Hartmann to Albert of Prussia (4 Mar. 1544), containing the report of his discovery of magnetic inclination and of the first determination of the declination on land, is repr. with a facs. in G. Hellmann, ed., Rara magnetica 1269-1599, Neudrucke von Schriften und Karten über Meteorologie und Erdmagnetismus, no. 10 (Berlin, 1898). The original remained unnoticed in the Royal Archives at Königsberg until published by J. Voigt, in Raumer’s Historisches Taschenbuch, II (Leipzig, 1831), 253-366, then by H. W. Dove in Reportorium der Physik, II (Berlin, 1838), 129-132, and again by J. Voigt with twelve other Hartmann letters and four by Albert in Briefwechsel der berühmsten Gelehrten des Zeitalter der Reformation mit Herzog Albrecht von Preussen 1541-1544 (Königsberg, 1841).

This correspondence provides important insight into the relationship between sovereign and scientist; Hartmann not only discusses the instruments he is making for Archduke Albert but also reports on his visits with and commissions from King Ferdinand of Bohemia and Hungary, and the apostolic envoy and Venetian orarier, and his correspondence with Duke Ottheinrich, who in August 1544 sent Hartmann a 1417 boxwood sundial and a commission for two ivory sundials, a brass astrolabe, and a brass armillary sphere. Details of this correspondence are described in Ernst Zinner, Deutsche und niederländische astronomische Instrumente des 11.-18. Jahrhunderts (Munich, 1956), p. 358. Zinner’s extensive listing, pp. 362-368, of Hartmann’s scientific instruments and engravings of 1523-1563 seems limited to European museums and libraries; it omits the nine astronomical charts, unaccompanied by text, in the Weaver Collection of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, New York City.

Although Nuremberg was a printing center and Hartmann’s correspondence reveals that for his instruments he engraved copperplates and printed them himself on his own presses, he put only two works into print: Joh. Pisani Perspectiva communis (Nuremberg, 1542), which he edited with extensive corrections and restorations (although unlisted by the Library of Congress, Columbia University and the University of Michigan each own a copy), and his astrological work Directorium (Nuremberg, 1554). He reproduced his writings of 1518-1528 in pre-Gutenberg style—Zinner, pp. 358-360, describes in detail “Die Wiener Handschrift Vin 12768,” containing copies, completed 14 June 1526 and 19 July 1527, which Hartmann presented to Chaplain Geuder and Ulrich Stocker, and illustrations for sun-clocks for the city of Nuremberg (1526); the Weimar Landesbibliothek no. F. max. 29, a Prachthandschrift of 1525[?]-1527 devoted primarily to the design of sundials but including a few figures of astrolabes; Weimar Landesbibliothek no. F. 324, a copy by Hartmann with very careful figures, probably by Hartmann, of Werner’s works on the spherical triangles and on the meteoroscope, the original of which Hartmann gave Rheticus for publication.

Other items of interest are an astronomical broadside, an engraving of a sundial, dated 1535, in the Houghton Library of Harvard University; a brass skaphe signed “Georgius Hartmann Noremberge Faciebat 1539,” listed in the Wray sale at Sotheby’s, Nov. 1959, and purchased by Dr. Weil, a dealer; and a gilt-brass dial of Ahaz, dated 1548, in a private collection in America; see Zinner, pp. 357-368. The Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum in Chicago has two instruments not mentioned in Zinner: (1) a gilt-brass astrolabe on which appears the inscription “GEORGIUS HARTMANN NOREMBERG FACIEBAT ANNO MDXL,” the rete being a later replacement, and (2) a gilt-brass, silver, and ivory astronomical compendium of astrolabe and sundial in a box of finest goldsmith work inscribed “HARTMANN NURNBERG 1558,” believed to be a gift from Emperor Charles V to Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy. The catalog numbers are M-22 and A-7, respectively. Some later instruments are signed “H. G.”

II. Secondary Literature. Zinner’s Astronomische Instrumente (cited above) is the major work. J. G. Doppelmayr, Historische Nachricht von den Nürnbergischen Mathematicis und Kunstlern (Nuremberg, 1730), pp. 56-58; Karl Heger, “Georg Hartmann von Eggolsheim,” in Der frankische Schatzgräber, 2 (1924), 25-29; and K. Kupfer, “Nachtrag zu Georg Hartmann,” ibid., 7 (1929), 37-38, were all used by Zinner. Hellmann discusses Hartmann’s discovery of the magnetic dip in the introduction to Rara magnetica (cited above), pp. 15-16, and attributes Hartmann’s knowledge of other magnetic properties to the “Epistola Petri Peregrini de magnete” of 1269, which was probably the “alte Pergamentbuch” (parchment manuscript) Hartmann obtained in 1525, during the Peasants’ War. For details of the Regiomontanus letter fragment owned by Hartmann, see Ernst Zinner, Leben und Wirken des Johannes Müller von Königsberg (Munich, 1938), pp. 195, 202-203.

English references to Hartmann are found scattered in Lynn Thorndike, History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York, 1941), V, 337, 353, 355, 364-365, 414, and VI, 60; R. J. Forbes, Man the Maker (New York, 1950), p. 123; and Abraham Wolf, A History of Science, Technology and Philosophy in the 16th and 17th Centuries (New York, 1959), I, 292. The geographer Baron N.A.E. Nordenskjold, in his Facsimile-Atlas to the Early History of Cartography With Reproductions of the Most Important Maps Printed in the XV and XVI Centuries, trans. from the Swedish by Johan Adolf Ekelof and Clements R. Markham (Stockholm, 1889), reasons that Hartmann, “a celebrated manufacturer of globes and cosmographical instruments,” rather than Schöner probably made the unsigned terrestrial globe portrayed in Hans Holbein’s Ambassadors; Mary F. S. Hervey, Holbein’s “Ambassadors” (London, 1900), pp. 210-218, upholds the opposite position. The original woodcut terrestrial globe gores, twelve to a plate, reproduced by Nordenskjold, are in the New York Public Library, catalogued as “[Globe gores with Magellan’s route Nuremberg? 153-?] Possibly the work of Georg Hartmann of Nuremberg.”

Lucille B. Ritvo

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