Perpetual Calendar Stone

Inspired by Cosmo Wenman, the archival 3D scan (STL file) is free to download on Sketchfab or on Thingiverse.

Creator: Johannes Helsspect Ratisponensis
Date: 1599
Dimensions: 11.5 x 17.5 inches
Date Acquired: 2014-09-06
From Where?: Bobingen, Germany

The arrangement of months and days in both Latin and German is consistent with 16th century printed almanacs. The structure of the signature looks like this:

Helsspect Ra
tisponensis. F.


Three known works by Helsspect:

Page 211 of a book called “Kunsthistorische Ausstellung, Dusseldorf, 1902: illustrirter Katalog” proves that the calendar stone is indeed from 1599, clarifies Johannes’ middle name as “Helsspect”, and states that the private collection of Emil Thomé Aachen contained a larger example of Johannes’ calendar stones. So there are two known works by this artist signed and dated 1599, and a third from 1590. Source:

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 11.02.59 AM

The 1590 stone was found on pages 318-319 of “Jahrbuch der hamburgischen Wissenschaftlichen Anstalten XXIII Jahrgang 1905”, or Yearbook of the Hamburg Scientific Institutes Vol.23. The ornamental border is nearly identical to mine in its overall structure. This time Johannes Helsspect has written his name as M. Joh. Helsbeccius. The article provides the title of Magister. Source:


The Webster Instrument Makers Signatures Database indicates that the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, and the Deutsches Museum, Munich., both possess works by Helsbeccius, in particular the 1590 stone, but I can’t find his work in either of their catalogs. Source:

Ernst Zinner refers to Helsbeccius in “Deutsche und Niederlandische Astronomische Instrumente des 11. bis 18. Jahrhunderts”, Munchen, 1979. I have yet to look into this.

According to a record from 1585, Magister Johannes Helsbeccius was a teacher of Greek and Latin at a Gymnasium in Regensburg. Source:

Comparable examples:

A stone rubbing of a 1587 calendar stone by Simon Kofferl of Nuremberg (accession number 1996.1.7) is at the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University. Source:


Deutsches Historisches Museum has the most ornate version that I’ve seen. This one is from 1582, also by Simon Kofferl. Source:


A calendar stone by Daniel Thierfelder, 1594. Source:

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 6.07.01 PM

The smallest example from 1587 (museum number 1894,0416.11) is in the British Museum. Source:


4 responses to “Perpetual Calendar Stone

  1. Tho you have some real gems in your collection this one is probably my favorite piece! Have you tried maybe doing a charcoal rubbing of the signature?


    • Thanks, it’s one of my favorites too! Haven’t done that yet but sounds like it would help. My main goal with this object is to find some information regarding its use and what the overall culture was like in Germany circa 1599.


  2. I’m not sure if it would help or not, but I seem to remember seeing a documentary where they did it with an old carved piece from antiquity as part of their investigation. Might be worth trying anyway.

    Good luck with your search on it’s history/use, it would be fascinating to find more about how it might have spent it’s early years. Thanks for all your posts!


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