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Dirigo Stories: Librarian races clock to find rare sundial

Portland Public Library's Samantha Duckworth searches the Maine News Index for sundial references

PORTLAND (WGME) -- A Portland librarian is on the hunt for "time." Specifically, she's searching for a rare time-telling device that's proving difficult to find.

"I really thought I could get in touch with a few people and get the answer right away," said Samantha Duckworth, Portland Public Library's Science and Technology Librarian. "I did not think it would turn into this lengthy quest."

It started with an email in August from the North American Sundial Society. They wanted help finding a rare sundial with a unique design that's rumored to be in Portland.

The "Crehore Sundial" was designed by scientist and mathematician Albert Crehore. He placed about 10 devices all over the northeast in the early 1900's. His autobiography states:

The first example of this dial was erected in Yonkers, New York. Since then one has been placed at Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio; Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland; Carnarvon, Wales; Portland, Maine and other places.

So far, Duckworth's search has come up empty, and she's running out of time. She wants to find the sundial before the NASS conference in Portland this June.

"I had a really hot lead when one of the local antique dealers was like 'Oh yeah someone from Falmouth came down and got one valued,' but it was a totally different model," said Duckworth.

The librarian has searched archives of the Maine News Index and the Maine Historical Society. She's contacted antique dealers and garden clubs. Duckworth and representatives from NASS believe the sundial could be at a personal residence since Crehore didn't name a specific landmark location in Maine.

"We have to hope wherever it's located the owner of the residence is open enough to let us peak over their gate and admire their sundial," Duckworth said.

She says she won't stop looking, even if the deadline passes.

"That's our mission. To connect people with information."

To help with Duckworth's search, send her an email HERE.

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