Sundials and nocturnals by Gino Schiavone. Available through the Folger Shakespeare Library museum shop, 201 East Capitol St. 546-2626.
Gino Schiavone, formerly a San Francisco leatherworker, is living in in a kind of time warp. His preoccupation with time-telling of the past has spurred him to undertake a sort of one-man revival of portable sundials, crafting them elaborately from brass, and more simply from paper, and calling his business Dials & Sun. Schiavone's time-pieces are reproductions of 16th- and 17th-century portable sundials and nocturnals, which use the stars to figure the time at night. Though such time-pieces were the state of the art 300 and 400 years ago, they wouldn't even come close to modern standards of accuracy. "The dial itself is not dead accurate," admits Schiavone. "It usually gives you time within 15 minutes." So, to compensate for the discrepancy between sundial time and clock time, he has calculated a table of corrections. He makes his timepieces to order because each must reflect the position of the sun and stars as seen from the location of the user. The pocket-size sundial ($13.95) and nocturnal ($8.95) require six to eight weeks for delivery.