Monday, August 14, 2017

How to waste money at the Antiques mall

     I want to start this post with a confession of bias,  I am not a fan of the Antiques mega mall, you know those places that are huge warehouses turned multi dealer extravaganza.   These places in many cases are where sub standard merchandise goes to die.   I don't know why I keep going to these places, but inevitably when I'm in a new area I seek out these mega malls and then set out to spend 3 hours cruising the aisles.
     In this Internet age when so many traditional mom and pop antiques businesses have gone away it seems that with exceptions, malls, and very high end stand alone dealers are all that is left, gone are the days of the mid range generalist dealer, specialize, move up market or move into a mall.  If you want to sell in a live setting these are your options other than shows.
     So back to the mall, If you know that 90% of everything inside the antique mall will be either way overpriced, or sub standard, or both, then that's fine. That still leaves 10% and 10% of one of these places is still a lot. Now Is there a chance of turning up a "diamond in the rough"....?  Yes absolutely,  if of course you are an employee of the mall, or a dealer who can frequent the place every few days. As a casual visitor I'd say your chances are exceedingly slim.
      With eyes wide open lets visit one of the largest antiques malls in America.   Springfield Ohio plays host to The Heart of Ohio Antiques center  this is a 160000 square foot behemoth, consider that a Wal-Mart super center is 125000 SF this place is 1/3 bigger than that!  Here's a pic of their ad in Maine antiques digest.
      I stopped at this mall for the first time driving through Ohio, it's about 1/2 way between Dayton and Columbus just off I-70  It's an easy day trip from anywhere in Ohio, and an easy overnight from Chicago, or Indianapolis.   I was hunting globes, advertising, maps, furniture, etc.  I naturally zerod in on the globes seeing as this is the market that I have the best grasp of. I want to show an example of a globe that I would have purchased 5-6 years ago that would have been a mistake.
Mid 30's Crams silver Ocean globe
     This is at first glance a not so bad Cram's silver ocean globe from the 1930's.  This is a globe that belongs in any serious collection of American globes, they are uncommon, not rare ( there is a difference)  and they are generally attractive. Probably one of the most desirable globes Cram's ever made.  If you blow up the picture you'll see that it's got some wrinkles, and scrapes and general wear, it's in average condition,  priced at $139.  I was told that getting $15 off the price would be no problem,  "just ask at checkout", the floor attendant said.  So is this globe worth $120... or $110...or $100...... it's not.   As a collector it's just not worth your trouble, you are far better off buying one in nicer condition at $160, or $200.  This is a great example of how your collection will be long suffering if you buy at this level.  It's better to spend up and acquire a better example of this globe than settle for this.  Look at the base, it's rusty!
     Next I want to show you another item, a Trippensee planetarium, a really nice example from 1958
 This particular item was in very nice condition, I would be hard pressed to find a better example  of a mid century planetarium.  Here's the problem, it's listed at   $1800..!!!  How was that price arrived at.....??  That's a price I've seen for older wooden planetariums, but these Bakelite/ plastic ones seem to top out right around $700-$800.  The top line pricing usually include the original box, and the handbook, both were missing here.  I wanted this planetarium but I could not even begin to negotiate on this item.  This piece will sit in this mall gathering dust until doomsday the way it's priced.
     I see this a lot at antiques malls, a great item woefully overpriced.  It's like someone did an Internet search, keyed in on the highest price ever advertised, you know..... the high end Manhattan Wall street price, and THEN.... decided that  price would be appropriate in Springfield Ohio, at an antique mall.......  What am I missing here?
     Malls are designed for that casual buyer, I get that.  I'm not necessarily the target of a mall's allure, I get that too.  I do believe in life and especially in the hunt for antiques that quality should reign supreme over quantity.  Think about the great collections you've observed in your personal life weather they be seashells, stamps, baseball cards, or vintage automobiles.  What is all cases that rare, pristine, original , authentic thing is what you remember most, it's what sticks with you.  When I hunt for something to add to my collection I want the best that I can afford, and you should too.  A finely curated collection of say 5 items will always be more desirable and therefore more valuable than a mediocre gathering of a dozen items.

     I suspect that is where my bias against the antique mall really lies, this is a place where it is so easy to succumb to the pull of the mediocre.   This post and this blog aim to break those habits, habits I too have trouble with.  Lets see a few more things and evaluate the pros and cons.
      These next few photos i'm attempting to show a few examples of the type of dross so common to the antique mall, the type of item that will just kill a collection.  These are inexpensive, common, not that old, and none of these items are in that great of shape.  Firstly buying a tin globe is not bad, but never, and I mean never buy a dented example.  There are just too many clean examples to be had, don't settle.  Secondly this solar system model is priced at a bit over $100 seems like a bargain compared to the Trippensee tellurion above?  Well it's not it's worth like $40 on a good day, and it's just not that old.  I mean if you love the look and can find one for that lower price then fine....I guess.  Finally we stumble onto something that at first blush is promising, a Replogle, illuminated globe 10 inch diameter.  So what fault do I have with an item like this. Well condition wise its sketchy,  you don't want to turn on an illuminated globe and see seams, and missing map glaring at you, it's unappealing, this is a death from a thousand cuts type of purchase.  it's just below mediocre, it is just not worth having, it's nothing you can build on as a collector it's a $50 dust collector.
      By now some of you reading this must think,  my goodness he's so there nothing that he saw that was worthy in his mind...?  Perhaps you think I'm being too picky.  Well I've saved the best for last. I did not buy these but they are great items:

These are school maps from the turn of the 20th century, they are over 100 years old, and they are self framed by the manufacturer.  They are large wall maps published by the Atlas Relief Map company of Chicago.  These were in very nice original condition, especially the North America map, very little wear, crisp and easy to read.  I wanted them but they were just too big. They are hanging at the Heart of Ohio Antique mall as we speak.  Priced at $395 each I'm sure a deal could be had in the $325-$350 range.  That my friends would be a satisfying buy.  These maps in auction/ retail settings are often priced substantially higher.   So there you go I found a worthy item,  and I've left it behind for you.......
      Let me close with a few more thoughts.  The antiques market at least the low and mid level is now primarily an online affair.  That makes it dificult in some ways to attract new people to any form of antiques hobby.  Malls counteract that by exposing people to a wide variety of goods all in one place.  You certainly need physical exposure to old stuff in order to appreciate it.   Currently I'm in Bouckville NY for the annual    Madison Bouckville antiques week   It's a " Brimfield lite" type of event, same format, but merchandice at these shows tends to be 2 steps above your usual Antique mall fare.  I'll be highlighting this experience in my next blog post .
     As always please feel free to disagree, comment, and most importantly, join this blog or subscribe via email at the top of the page!!


Saturday, August 5, 2017

On the antiques trail in New England 2017

    This past July into August gave me a chance to do something I've always wanted to do.  That is take an antiquing road trip through New England.  We started our journey in Portsmouth NH. We wound our way to Bar Harbor, then across interior Maine to Northern NH then onto Vermont.  I want to share some  observations on the antique market as well as some tips should you go off on a similar journey.
     Firstly let me set the scene for you,  I am primarily interested in antique cartography, especially globes as you might guess but I do love some other categories of things. Most notable are folk art, advertising, and old photographs.  So on the antique trail I've got my eyes wide open for many different things, and my wife is searching for even more!
     Our first day had us traveling from Portsmouth to Bar Harbor, we took the fabled route 1 north instead of  the interstate.  Route 1 is touristy to say the least Kennebunkport has some shops that cater to casual interest, selling mostly overpriced smalls,  things that travel easily.  I had always herd that Wiscasset Maine was an antique paradise of sorts. We planned a long stop in their quaint downtown and were rewarded with a dozen or so independent antique shops to sample.
     Wiscasset had something for everyone some shops were very curated and very high quality, others were just one step above your local flea market.  Most were between these extremes, however with few exceptions most shops concentrated on tchochkeys, smalls that just gather dust,  unless it's a small globe I can't stand buying those things.  To each his own........ so Wiscasset was worthy for its sheer volume,  I would stop again.
Turn of the century medical cabinet
     Our next outing took us from Bar Harbor, across interior Maine.  There is no worthy antiquing in and around Bar Harbor it's a tourist den,  a beautiful place, just not an antiques place. So Bangor was my next stop.  What a great town ,  just starting to get away from the route one tourism I found a fantastic place to shop, a well run group shop,  not a true " mall" but a group shop with about a dozen like minded vendors. Called aptly : Central Maine Antique mall  I recommend you stop if you are in the Bangor region it's even worth a drive for it's quality.   This place was exceptionally well run, not much to look at from the street but inside just quality vendors, no junk or flea market trash like so many other malls.  I found a " wicked good" medical cabinet from the turn of the century in excellent original preservation.  Problem was, no matter how I jockeyed my seating or luggage I couldn't fit this beauty in my car, short by less than 6 inches. I thought for sure the top and base would separate, no such luck.  I hated leaving this piece of furniture behind.  I was already arranging my smaller globes on those shelves in my mind when I discovered that things were not going to work out.  The worst part......the price.......hundreds less than I was expecting...... the knife was twisting.......
     Into and out of so many small towns with small antique barns, sheds, sometimes just a pile of junk suggesting a sale, we stopped at them all. The interior of Maine was full of such places.  None as good as this Bangor shop.  Here's a pic of a typical shop. You just never know what overlooked piece of bounty might be lurking , I swung into 50 such places, empty handed I left

My travels next took me across New Hampshire and into Vermont, here things turned promising again.  In the town of Quechee VT. I stumbled into an exceptional antiques shop.  Antiques collaborative is a decidedly upmarket shop.  3 floors of exceptional 18th through early 20th century antiques, the type of early Americana that the New England area is known for. It was here that I spotted my first globe, an English Smith's globe, an attractive mount. Here are two pictures.  This globe was in exceptional condition, I'm not going to comment on the price, this is a retail environment, haggling is somewhat expected.  I'll let everyone judge on their own.

     As you can see It didn't matter to me weather the shop catered to the 1% or weather you needed a shower after visiting, I stopped at them all.  There's an education to be had at all levels of the antiques trade.
     Further on down the road I stopped into an excellent group shop in Middlebury VT,  The Middlebury antiques center  is a comfortable mid range shop with an eclectic mix of quality dealers, no junk, some higher end offerings, but mostly just good mid range items.  One dealer in particular seemed to specialize in antique cartography:
     The final stop of my 3 state Odyssey was in Shelburne VT .  Here I again found a great multi dealer shop with the type of 18th and 19th century merchandise I like. The Champlain valley antiques center is just south of Burlington VT certainly worth the trip if you are in the area.   I went back and forth over several items in this shop,  an old blanket chest, and a mounted fish decoy,  both items way out of my wheelhouse, but I couldn't shake them!

OK, I know what some of you are thinking,  " Kyle this is a globe blog,  I don't want to read about some Fu#@ed up wooden fish and a crappy trunk"   well suck it up were almost finished.....

     Neither of these items made it home but as I type this I'm thinking I made an error, especially on the decoy.  they wanted less than $100 for the decoy and it is defiantly hand carved not machine carved, I think I really should have grabbed that one,  If you're near Burlington, grab this decoy I think it's a bit of a sleeper!!
    The trunk.......gosh I don't know a damn thing about old paint, I was scared of making a mistake with an item that I liked but knew nothing about.
     Well minor regrets but it was good to be out in the mix seeing antiques on the ground, not on a screen.  One thing I realized is my romanticized view of antiquing in New England is still somewhat available, but the antique selling marketplace has shifted online, and to mega antiques events like the annual New Hampshire antiques week  that it's almost not worth running from shop to shop over 1000 miles.  I'm glad I did if for no other reason than this part of the country is old, and an antique in itself, I saw so many charming things village to village that in itself  was wonderful.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A H Andrews Terrestrial globe.......a rare treasure

     If you've followed this blog you will know that I have been trying unsuccessfully for years to find and acquire a nice example of an Andrews terrestrial globe.   They have eluded me at every turn.  I've missed BIN on eBay by mere minutes ( more than once)  I've been outbid as recently as this spring at a Neal auction. So suffice it to say it was a total surprise when one fell into my lap when I least expected.
     I've referred to this globe as my "white whale" in several other posts,  so many close encounters ,  so many missed opportunities.   So lets review this particular example ,  lets tear it apart with a critical eye and understand this globe and it's path through history.  But first my globe's back story.
     I saw this globe on eBay several years ago, as a BIN.  I remember the price, but suffice it to say that it was substantially  " below market".  I sent off a few questions regarding condition, and I waited patiently for a response, while I waited a competitor swooped in and purchased this globe They obviously had a clear understanding of the opportunity.  So...... I missed out.........  not one to give up easily, and with remorse setting in,  I promptly contacted the eBay seller and offered them MORE money if they would just cancel the sale.  So I know what your thinking,  " that's a dirty trick"!  Yes I'll admit not a smooth move.  we needn't belabor the ethics because the seller didn't respond to my inquiry anyhow.
     Fast forward more than a year,  I'm having a casual email conversation with another collector, and I mention my desire for an Andrews terrestrial globe.  He then mentions that he found one on eBay some time back,  sure enough it was the same globe I had missed!   I never mentioned it again. I was glad to know another passionate collector owned this  particular globe.
      It was just last week when this same collector, passed this globe to me when it came time to sell,  so here it is I want to share an exceptional example of  A H Andrews handiwork:
A H Andrews 8 inch globe about 1875

     This is an Andrews 8 inch full meridian globe, measuring about 15 inches high, it is supported on a wonderful turned walnut column and base, brass hardware, brass meridian, just a fantastic period construction.  Seeing an Andrews globe such as this up close it is easy to see why they are amongst the most desirable American globes sought after by collectors. I've always thought that because Andrews was already using so much wood, and metal in their other school, furniture endeavor that it just naturally transferred to their globe production, with delightful results.
        The turned wood base is my personal favorite, it was not the most expensive at the time, but in this blogger's opinion it adds to the form.  Most desirable would be the tripod Gothic metal stand.  My example is not a full mount globe because it is without a horizon ring, Andrews sold this globe 3 ways  (good, better, and best if you will) it was sold as offset mounted ( good)  or with full meridian ring ( better) or as a full mount( best)  with corresponding graduations in price for the buyer. Here I have a photo from the Andrews 1885 catalog, showing their 8 inch offerings:
     My example is from the early to mid 1870's    Alaska is no longer doubly listed as " Russian America"  ( 1867) The Suez canal is present (1869) There is no Yellowstone park yet (1872).  So I'll be generous with myself and refer to this example as being from 1870s. Originally this model would have had a retail price of about $10 quite a sum back then.
     This particular 8 inch specimen is a wonderful example of how you hope to find a 130 plus year old globe.  There are signs of use, it is not too crisp and clean, it lies in that sweet spot that I love.  To restore this globe in any way would be a sin.  The map is intact, there are some surface rubs, and minor abrasions, the base has some signs of having spent years in a classroom. Keep in mind that these items had a utilitarian purpose.   Just a great example of A H Andrews work, the quintessential small globe.  Here are a couple more pictures.
     I'm always amazed at how well these globes are made solid brass meridian rings, high quality wood, they were built to last. These were factory made mass produced items also.          It's a far cry from the globe construction post WW2 when things were little more than pressed cardboard and stamped steel.

      These models from Andrews have everything that got me excited about old globes in one package,  art, science, and history.  There's just something about the Andrews large dish mounts that are just right, the wood, brass, and paper. Everything perfectly proportioned,  I love it!

     I've been seriously hunting globes for a decade now, and although they turn up, Andrews globes seem to be far scarcer than those of their contemporary Gilman Joslin.   I've often wondered why that is?  Did Joslin sell in much higher numbers?  Were Andrews globes less robust in their construction?   Did Joslin focus on the home market  instead of the school market, obviously affecting their survivability?  As I sift through the Andrews 1885 catalog i see so many models that were sold of which I've never even seen one in museum or library collections.  They are out there for sure but a decade of Internet search later and I think it's safe to say these things fall into the rare category.  Knowing what I know about Andrews they were in the 1870's and 1880's a much larger operation than Joslin ever was.  These globes that came out of the Andrews factory in Chicago would be some of the first of the Chicago globe makers, a group that would come to dominate globe production for the next 100 years.
Andrews globe ( Left) Star Eraser globe ( Right) 
     I want to share another photo and do a bit of compare and contrast.  In this next picture I have the Andrews 8 inch next to another 8 inch globe of perhaps a decade later, the other globe is a Star Eraser globe from 1885 ( Congo free state is present)  I took this picture because as i was studying the cartography of the Andrews I could not help but notice many similarities with this other globe's map.  These globes are both isothermal and it was uncanny how exactly the printing of the isothermal lines matched. There are other similarities also I can't help but wonder if each company sourced their gores from the same place?  Granted there are differences, ocean currents are far more prominent on the Andrews, that is in some ways their hallmark.  Also The star globe was produced with far less expensive materials for the stand and meridian, quite a departure in just 10 years , something to explore in another post probably.
     I hope you enjoyed seeing this globe as much as I have enjoyed sharing it.  As always please do not hesitate to drop me a line via email, or to post a comment or question below.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Laing's Planetarium practically free on eBay.......... or, knowledge is power with antiques

     A few weeks back a great deal,  a steal of a deal really, turned up on eBay.  a Laing's Planetarium surfaced, in exceptional original preservation with a BIN price of $129.00   not a typo,  $129 !!
    How did this long did the auction last?  Well I suspect in the eBay universe these type of deals crop up all the time, and the BIN was snatched up a mere 2 minutes after listing.   It is all to common for unknowing sellers to stick an inflated price on their merchandise that's 99.9% of the time.  Once in a great while something is listed way too low, this is the tale of one of those cases.
      Here is the link to the item in question:  Too good to be true planetarium, but it was!!
follow this link as long as it remains active and study all of the pictures, conservatively had this auction ran it might have brought $2000, below is a screen shot of the action:

     This planetarium is in great shape with all of the major parts present and accounted for, some new string is in order but that's no big thing.   it just goes to show that knowledge is power in the  world of antiques, as well as great timing!  For the record, I missed this auction, it was over in a flash. I was alerted to it's existence by a fellow globe hunter.  This auction is EXACTLY why I love eBay so much.  You just never know, that wild west element in action!
      Are you the lucky bidder...? Drop me a line I'd love to chat.  As always comment and discuss below.

***update:  7/18/17 I've been having some discussion with some people in the globe community who are casting a bit of doubt on this eBay sale,  nothing concrete just anecdotal.  Was this one too good to be true? We may never know for sure.***

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Whales Here, Unfrozen Brandy and Parts But Very Little Known: A Late 18th Century Benjamin Martin Globe

***The following is a guest blog post by my friend, and sometimes rival collector  Brian, as passionate a collector as I,  please enjoy***   

Benjamin Martin globe about 1780
  I have had quite a bit of luck lately finding globes from the late 1800s to early 1900s (although Kyle snapped up a few of them before I could get to them!) I am a classical musician but on the side I am an antique picker and collector who also loves globes (along with a number of other various interests including rare books, maps and prints). Globes are fantastic; I appreciate the ever-changing cartography and beautiful colors of the orbs and also the artistic elegance of various styles of mounts.  I have put them in my university office and have had many conversations about them with genuinely interested people.  This is not like my old collection of coins which simply sat in a closet waiting for the rare chance to come out when the subject of coin collections came up (pretty much never). Globes are well worth the hunt and for this post I decided to focus on one globe in particular.  

     I get really excited when I find a globe that has states with different shapes (like Dakota before it divided into North and South) or different names (like Indian Territory) but when continents are different shapes I get ecstatic.  Unfortunately, as many of you know it is difficult to own a middle 19th century globe or anything earlier for a “pickers” price.  This last year I had the luck to acquire something I thought I would never get my hands on; a globe from the late 18th century made by Benjamin Martin!   It is a twelve inch orb with a full mount and a brass meridian and although the globe has two small holes (in the ocean fortunately) and is missing a section of horizon ring along with the brass hour circle and pointer, the orb is in quite solid condition.  Others that I have seen for sale from this period are either super nice and therefore out of my reach price-wise or else in extremely rough condition and not worth the expense to restore.  I really enjoy researching the things I find and this globe has been no exception.  I am certainly not a globe expert but I do know how to do good research and thankfully, as a professor I have access to a worldwide system of libraries for free!  I have a number of times complained to Kyle that there really are almost no good reference materials out there that show actual details of globes.  Admittedly globes are difficult to photograph well and two dimensions on a page can hardly do them justice but it sometimes feels like there is a secret society of people who have this specific information and they don’t want to share it with others.  My goal here is simply to briefly provide some information about the maker and then share some decent pictures of the actual globe surface for other collectors’ enjoyment.

   The cartouche for this globe is interesting because it reads “MR. SENEX’S Terrestrial Globe/ Now drawn and improved/ according to the latest observations by/ JAMES FERGUSON/Made and Sold by/ BENJ. MARTIN Fleet Street London.”  Under the cartouche it says Thos. Bowen Sculp. While the globe manufacturing plates clearly passed through a line of makers, it is not always abundantly clear why events unfolded the way they did.  John Senex (1695-1740), a Fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S) was a prolific and important map maker of high regard who also sold globes. It is safe to say that he was essentially the most highly regarded globe maker in England in the early 18 th century. In 1740 he passed away and his wife Mary Senex continued the business until 1757 when, for reasons unknown, she sold most of the plates and equipment to James Ferguson (1710-1776).  Ferguson used the plates for a few years until, presumably due to business difficulties; they finally transitioned to Benjamin Martin (1704/5-1782).  After Benjamin Martin died it is unclear what happened to the plates for some of his medium sized globes and it is presumed that they fell out of use because they were becoming obsolete. Some makers continued using Senex plates for pocket globes (Dudley Adams and later Lane) and larger globes (Dudley Adams) until the beginning of the 19th century.  

Benjamin Martin was a maker to some degree and distributor of scientific instruments.  In the 1750s he expanded his Fleet Street business to include globe making.  It is important to note that Fleet Street was a significant center of printing and publishing in the 18th century.  He was also a rather prolific author who wrote many books that relate to science and education and you can often find them for sale on Ebay. Specifically he wrote a book in 1762: The description and use of both the globes, the armillary sphere and the orrery which explained many things about geometry and the use of the various instruments to make calculations.  A competitor in 1757, Samuel Dunn claimed that his planispheres were cheaper and as good as globes and then another in 1764, George Adams  claimed to have made an “improved” globe.   Martin was quick to discredit the instruments and denigrate their makers with insults in essays and appendices to his books.  Although the large catalogues published by his business indicate that his endeavors were to some degree successful, he ran into difficulties in the late 1770s and then became bankrupt in 1782, the year of his death.  This general information can be found in a number of places online but I want to give credit to the book Globes at Greenwich: A Catalogue of the Globes and Armillary Spheres in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich by Elly Dekker (1999).  Specifically pages 489-495 (Senex), 332-335 (Ferguson), 409-412 (Martin)  This tome is a treasure trove of information on English globe making but the one problem for those who do not have access to interlibrary loan  is that it retails used for between $300-600!  There is also a book Benjamin Martin, Author, Instrument Maker and ‘Country Showman’ by John R. Millburn (1976) which has four pages specifically relevant to his globe making (101-104).

I wanted to try to figure out as narrow a range as possible for the construction of my globe and I found in the Dekker book that the National Maritime Museum has a Martin globe very similar to mine which they date as pre-1770 because it does not make mention of Captain Cook’s Voyages.  My globe does show the first two of Cook’s voyages which ended in 1775 so it wouldn’t be earlier than 1775-6.  Cook was killed in Hawaii in 1779 but news of this would not have reached England until a bit later and it would take a little longer to update gores and produce new globes.  Based on the cartography and the routes of various explorers mentioned and since Martin died in 1782 it seems reasonable to conclude that it wouldn’t date much later than that.  One last piece of information actually comes from the damage to my globe.  Ideally there would not be holes in the orb, but the holes provide access to the interior where I was able to snake in a small light and get some photos with my Ipod camera.  Since the first layer of the orb is constructed of papier mâché, there were legible scrap pieces of almanacs pages all around the inside of the globe. Fortunately there were a few pages with dates at the top, the latest being 1778!   I am comfortable dating this globe then to somewhere between 1778 and 1782.  It is of course possible that it is from just a bit later but I have not been able to find another one anywhere that has the same surface as mine. 

The North American Continent: The primary thing makes this globe so exciting to me is that it dates to just after the American Revolution.  The original colonies are represented with borders delineated as per their charters; the United States in its infancy.  It is also interesting that Indian tribe names are prevalent all the way to the east coast and what is now Michigan is labeled Six Nations in reference to the Iroquois Confederacy.  Walker’s Settlement appears in the Kentucky area and was named after Dr. Thomas Walker who was one of the earliest explorers of that region.  I had never heard of him before but he is partly responsible for the first log cabin constructed in Kentucky and whose exploration preceded Daniel Boone (who is more famous and who I have heard of) by approximately 17 years.  To the west of the Mississippi it is essentially blank with almost nothing mentioned other than a few rivers.  The west coast is quite rough and aside from the label and description of New Albion the only specific places named are inlets and islands.

The African continent: “This country is scarce known to any of the Europeans” is a comment found in north-central Africa and yet borders and regions seem to be quite clearly delineated.  I almost feel like globes from the 18th century do a better job of simply marking most of central Africa as unexplored or unknown with only a few countries or regions around the coast delineated.  One of my favorite features on many globes from this period till about 1850 is the fictitious range of mountains strung across the middle of the African continent called Mountains of the Moon which were the supposed source of the Nile based on Ptolemy’s works.  While these mountains are not depicted on this globe, there are mountains in the south-east named Back Bone of the World.  Many of these false mountain ranges persisted in maps even towards the turn of the century!  Old-world and outdated racial designations are found in various parts of Africa as well such as the “Land of the Caffers” and Negroland (which sounds like some sort of amusement park).  It is interesting to see how quickly maps of the United States from 1780 to 1880 fill in with details and new states, especially when compared to maps of Africa from the same time period. 

The Search for the Northwest Passage: Lots of people died or disappeared trying to find a trade passage to Asia.  Europeans were searching for a water route through the interior of the continent but found that there was no such navigable route.  The next option then was to try to go over the North American continent through the arctic waters.  The area between North America and Asia on this globe is still full of interesting comments about discoveries and geographical traits.  De Gama’s Land which was mentioned in the accounts of his voyages is found here and represented as a partial, speculative coastline with a note that he saw this coast on a trip from China to New Spain.  I love that everything north of Washington State is a vague outline of the shape of Alaska! The progression of updates through the Senex plates is much like watching a projector come into focus as explorers progressively provide more and more details of the region. 

James Cook’s Voyages:  A few years ago I read through the Journals of Captain Cook and I was fascinated.  Some consider his voyages to be the end of the “exploring the globe to find new continents and lands” phase of exploration.  Certainly there were still some small islands to be discovered and the mapping of the Antarctic continent was not completed, attention was directed more at exploring the unknown interiors of the continents, especially of Africa, Australia and South America.  Crazy to think this globe could have been in a shop being created even as Cook was pulling stunts (like kidnapping the King of Hawaii) that finally got him shot and killed in 1779.

Holes:  I wanted to include at least one image of the interior of the globe so you can see the almanack pages (the old spelling is used inside this globe) as well as the wooden brace that runs through the middle of the globe.  Right about in the middle of the image you can see that there was something related to the Covent-Garden Playhouse that was going to take place on the 13th Day of September, 1778. 

Whales and Unfrozen Brandy:  There is a comment near Greenland that states, “Brandy Freezes by the fire” and another in Baffin Bay that says simply, “Plenty of Whales here”.  These are the types of annotations that are simply no longer found on globes in the 20th century. 

South America:  There is a big green region in the middle of South America that is described as “Country of the Amazons” with a little note below which reads, “These Parts are but very little known”.   

The Analemma: On this globe, the analemma is surprisingly rectangular and pasted on separately just to the west of Mexico.  It  actually covers up the names of a few places.  I believe analemmas were just starting to become standard on globes at this point in time in part thanks to Benjamin Martin.  

The Wind Rose: The Wind Rose or Compass Rose (which marks the 32 directions of the wind) in the Atlantic is beautiful and reminiscent of the portolan style maps of earlier times.  This is another item feature that slowly became extinct on later globes.  You might still find a Rose on a globe; however the lines extending from it won’t be there. Even though they could decorate the libraries of the wealthy and provide anecdotal geographical information for armchair explorers, globes from this period were meant to be used as instruments to aid with navigation.  If you were to get on a ship from Europe in the 18th century and embark for the exciting New World, the guy in charge of getting you there needed one of these along with a bunch of charts and measuring instruments!  

The Solid Brass Meridian Ring:  The hand-carved markings on this ring are exquisite to say the least.  Of course most of this type of work is done by currently done by machines even though there are also brass carving artists in the world today.  It looks like it would take days to make all the markings required for one of these globes, especially if you consider the work required for the hour circle and pointer which are regrettably missing on my globe.  I’ll bet that if we could  go back in time and visit the shop where this work was being done in the 18th century we would be absolutely impressed with how fast the work can be accomplished by workers who do this on a daily basis!  My plan is to take a few brass carving classes, obtain some raw stock, make some measurements and whip up a replacement in a few weeks (probably not!).

     Well, I hope you find this brief synopsis of my globe interesting and informative.  As I said above, I have not been able to locate any other copies of this exact globe online or in any of the standard reference works.  I feel it is important to share information for free so that collectors can become more knowledgeable in the field. If you are a large retail operation with years of experience then you have likely seen a large number of globes and the reference books that go with the trade but if you are a smaller collector, information can be quite scarce.   I have other pictures of the entire surface of the globe that I would be happy to provide if asked.   Thanks again to Kyle who invited me to come up with a post for his blog; it was a pleasure! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Brimfield .......a guide

     Well it's early spring again in the northeast, and with spring my thoughts turn to all of the great antiques shows that will be happening from now until the weather turns cold again. Top on my list is Brimfield.  If you don't know what Brimfield is well, you probably need to get off this blog now because ....really...!!??    Seriously, Brimfield despite being a great small hamlet in south central Massachusetts,  refers to the tri-annual antiques mecca that crops up along route 20 in the town by the same name every May, July and September.
     With the May 2017 show ready to kick off in just 3 short weeks I thought I'd provide my take on this antique event.   Now Brimfield has many fans, as well as many foes. I'm a fan and I'll explain why.  The show is huge spread out over a mile and consisting of about 20 different separately run shows all along the same stretch of road, it's antiques paradise.  Now I love it because there is so much to see, so many different varieties of items, mostly it's old stuff, and true antiques.  Are there repros and fakes, absolutely.  Just like eBay crawls with junk there's plenty of that to be seen and avoided at Brimfield.  However with that said, it's hard to think of anywhere else that you will see so many treasures in one place.
     I love the fact that in a place like Brimfield knowledge is currency, for that exact reason many others will hate it, but for that reason alone I love it!  If you don't like crowds, or weather, or can't be bothered learning anything then stop now, and don't waste time or money going because you will hate it..  If you love the hunt ( I do!!!) and you are knowledgeable, and you understand what buyer beware means then please go, look, buy and soak it all in because in this country it gets no better for the antiques hunter than Brimfield.
All these globes, at just one dealer's booth
     OK lets slice and dice this show a bit, when is the best time to go....?  I know plenty of people who hit this thing 3 times a year.  Let's say you cant and you need to pick one.  Here are some observations.  The May show is arguably the biggest, it's been more than 6 months since the last Brimfield and the May show kinda opens the year for all of the antiques vendors in the northern tier of the country.  From May til September there will be shows weekly somewhere in the eastern US so this is the first and biggest,  translation: the freshest merchandise!  The downside to May is the weather it will be cooler, and there's a chance for rain more often in May than some other months.  July features hot humid weather, and antique pickers have been active in the northeast for a few months, rain will be less of a factor but thunderstorms this time of year are frequent but short lived.  September Brimfield is pleasant weather usually, and not as hot ( remember it's ALL outdoors)  Is the merchandise as fresh...? Probably not it's probably been shown at several shows by now being after Labor day but it's still plentiful that's a given. Some say the September show is a bit smaller,  yeah probably....
     OK so you've decided when to go,  now  where do you stay?   Brimfield the town is not large, the closest town with hotel rooms is Sturbridge MA  after that it's Auburn MA to the east and Springfield to the west.  I'm going to list my top 3 lodging choices, understand I travel 6 hours one way to get here and I like comfort...A LOT..!
1. In Southbridge MA about 20 minutes south of Brimfield you'll find the Southbridge Hotel and   Conference center  This is not the closest but it is the nicest place to stay and it will cost less than some lesser quality hotels closer to Brimfield.  My first choice

2. In the Holyoke/ Chickopee MA ( west of town) area there are quite a few mid range national chains they are 20 minutes from Brimfield with the added bonus of being near quite a few decent places to eat. Think Hampton INN, and Homewood suites  that level of accommodation

3. East of Brimfield is Wooster/ Auburn MA  : these locals are 30 minutes or so away and will be national mid range chains

Finally,  Sturbridge MA is 10 minutes or so from Brimfield and their few hotel selections are very pricey during show weeks, think double or triple the other 49 weeks of the year, I just can't recommend staying here. Not to mention the Sturbridge hotels are iffy on the quality, in my opinion anyhow.

     Brimfield is a near week long marathon of  20 different shows some start on Tuesday, and run all week some like the famous J+J show run only two days  so if you don't have a week to spend then whats the best game plan.  Well I'm going to lay out 3 different plans of attack, for those spending 1, 2, or 3 days at the show.

First up lets say your like me and you love antiques, not just globes but you appreciate other antiques as well, so you're willing to take a few days off and spend 3 days at the show.  I recommend then arriving Tuesday evening, check in to your hotel and gear up for a VERY early morning Wednesday.  Come 5am or so Wednesday be out the door and traveling to Brimfield because Wednesday will be packed with opening day on 3 different show fields.
     New England Motel  opens op their show field at 6AM  so the early bird gets the worm, 400 dealers await, park your car here, it's central to your Wednesday schedule,  browse this field for 2 hours, whatever you buy hustle it to your car, by 8am......because.......

At 9 am the second field opens Heart O the Mart,  This is another 400 dealers so now it will have been 800 different dealers all in the span of less than 4 hours.

12 noon brings the third and final show opening of this busy Wednesday Hertans antique field opens with over 150 fresh dealers, bringing your Wednesday total to nearly 1000 dealers.  Given the cost and logistics and other restrictions these shows weed out your fly by night wannabees  that populate a lot of run of the mill shows, they are a step up for sure.

OK day one is in the bag it's an early start but over by 2pm,  I usually head back to the hotel take a quick nap and grab a great meal , it will be early to bed but Thursday will not be the crack of dawn rising that Wednesday was....

Day 2, I arrive and park at May's field,  all the action will be in and around May's on Thursday.  Now I have to confess this is my favorite show field May's Brimfield  is a 500 dealer extravaganza, that opens 9am sharp, be aware that the show and it's parking lot are across the street from each other.  I just love the fact that at May's they have a higher standard, many of their dealers have been coming for years and years, they turn away dealers who don't offer the quality that they have been known for.  I hit the show right at 9 and by 11:30 I'm ready for lunch.
      This is the only opening on Thursday, the rest of the day you can hit one or two of the other fields that are open all week.  It's an early day really.

Day 3 starts early ( see a pattern)  this being Friday, the town sees an influx of early weekend starters from Boston, and New York the latter is only 2.5 hours away by car. J&J Brimfield  is the original and grandaddy of them all. They open their 2 day extravaganza today... This show opens at the very reasonable 8am.  This is considered by many to be the best dealers, the cream of the crop, I've had good luck here in the past so I can't argue with that.  Park right at the J&J show for $8  admission Friday is $5
The 7am crowd ready to " rush" the J&J field

Well if you have 3 days that's my recommended itinerary.  You see maximum fresh antiques and you avoid the lookey loos that infest the place on the weekend.   I'm a firm believer that the serious buying, and the best selection is during the week by the weekend it's leftovers.

Now what if you have only 2 days .  Well I'd still follow day 1, and 2 from above and I'd cut out the Friday show,  you still see 80% of what the 3 day person sees, one long day followed by a shorter day not a bad plan.

What if I can only spare one day to get to the show,  well in that case your probably a casual buyer,  and I have an alternate itinerary for you.  Hit the show early ( like by 8 am) Sunday.  Browse all you can in that one day.  I recommend Sunday if you only have one day because maybe just maybe on Sunday you can drive a harder bargain especially on a larger item like furniture that's hard for a dealer to pack and transport.

     Well that's my down and dirty take on the Brimfield experience.  It's been almost 2 years since I have been. I'll be following the 3 day itinerary this year. Last time I left many good deals on the show field because I had/ have a tendency to pull the trigger rather slowly I love to research sometimes you gotta go with your gut.  Brimfield is a gut shopper type place.....hope to see some friends there.....

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A globe display at my local library

     This month at my local library I was given the chance to setup a display of some of my globe collection.  I filled two glass cabinets with an interesting mix of small globes and related ephemera.
    The whole month of April people will be able to learn a bit about the history of globes.  Riveting stuff to be sure, will anyone even care....?  Well perhaps I will spark just one persons' interest in collecting. Besides what good is a collection if it sits collecting dust in a dark closet.  These items are meant to be shared,  thats my opinion anyhow.  So check out my pics and tell me what you think.  Quite a fun project to participate in and all positive feedback so far !   Space limitations allowed for only about a dozen or so smaller globes but this representative sample spanned over 100 years of globe manufacture from 1846 to 1950 .

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Denoyer Geppert 4 inch Pupils' globe...... a tiny treasure

     A few months back I lost out on a near perfect example of the Denoyer Geppert 4 inch globe.  Back then I lamented that I lost an auction for a measly 4 cents!
     Well serendipitously I managed to procure an even better example of this great globe, complete with the original box and original reorder insert.

Here's a great little item that I think enjoys a place in any globe collection.  This is Denoyer Geppert's entry into the lucrative student market, a la 1928 or so.  A 4 inch tin globe mounted on an adjustable 1/2 meridian. The whole thing stands less than 6 inches high, the base has written tips and ideas for use written in orange.  The idea behind this was that for 50 cents each every student in class would be provided with their own globe and would follow along at their desk with the teacher who would be operating from a larger, presumably 12 or 18 inch Denoyer model of her own.
     This globe is advertised as superior to pasteboard, or cardboard models such as those offered by Rand McNally, and Weber Costello, because being ALL METAL it can stand up to the rigor of the classroom better.  I've never handled this model globe before but I was struck by how heavy it was, the metal is far thicker than the tin globes J Chien manufactured at the same time, this would not dent nearly as easily as on of those.
     This little globe is probably new old stock, it was probably in the estate of an educator who never got around to using this one. It's in as good a shape as anything made of metal that is 90 years old. There is no rust, next to no scuffs, and absolutely zero dents. Add in the box and the advert and it's a nice item to own.  I paid $215 plus shipping, certainly near the top of the market but I did not mind because for me the excellent condition warranted it.
     Some of you are going to look at this item and say, ......are you nuts, it's a toy...!!  Well it's not , at least Denoyer Geppert didn't market it that way in the 1920's.  At left is the original insert, on the other side are the assembly instructions for this globe.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Restoring a globe professionally, a conversation with Matthew W. Jones of Green Dragon Bindery


 I receive quite a few emails related to restoration and conservation.  Many people it seems are curious about a lot of the same questions. namely, where do I go to have a globe restored? Or what's involved?  More detailed questions also follow me, and I'll tell ya, I really don't know all that much about globe restoration because I've had exactly zero globes restored in my 10 years as a collector.  So why is that?  Well partly it is because I try to seek out globes that are not in need of restoration, also the range of globes I have so far added to my collection are not generally rare enough or hard enough to find in an acceptable unrestored condition. That will change as I seek older globes so nows a great time to learn some more.
     When it comes to restoration I think it's important to go into the process with eyes wide open, and to facilitate that understanding I've called in an expert.  Matthew Jones is a professional who's specialty is globes, he has worked at The Green Dragon Bindery in Shrewsbury Massachusetts since 1993.  As a graduate of U Mass ( 1991) he has a childhood love of all things old,  I think many of us can relate.  He has tackled more than 500 antique globes in his 25 years at the Bindery he does everything from wood and metal work to restoring old paper, and varnish.  Below we delve into the questions most commonly encountered on this blog.

1. What makes a globe a good candidate for restoration?

Desire, rarity, personal or family history, and sometimes historical elements.
For years, my ideal globe was an 18 inch W.&A.K. Johnston terrestrial from 1907.
It was pre-WWI and showed the countries, provinces and territories as they were before the Treaty of Versailles changed it all. This is an era of history I read a lot in, so this globe is a natural reference.

2.  Conversely, are there factors that make a globe not a good restoration candidate?

Yes, the better the original condition and more untouched, the better the restoration. Amateur restorations and touch ups make my job harder, less attractive and more expensive. Sometimes, a globe can get really cooked too. Sadly, a great many globes have spent times in damp basements, and burning hot attics. Excessive moisture damage or finishes peeling from heat can be a problem. There is a very fine line between old chippy vanish and a finish that is pulling away paper and destroying the cartographic imprint. Real structural damage is a challenge as well. So, if the globe has a dent or ponk, the smaller the better, and hopefully in a less detailed area like the ocean. Also, pre-1900 globes in the US tend to be better made than later ones. By 1930 the construction quality declined significantly. Later globes just don’t have good materials and are that much more difficult to restore convincingly and reasonably. There is a sweet spot in smaller globes made between 1890-1930, generally 3 inch to 10 inch. These are desirable for many reasons, not the least of which is display options.

 3.  Many people familiar with auto restoration talk of " over restoration ". Additionally many categories of antiques especially furniture are  adversely affected by restoration,  how are globes different?  Am I using the wrong word,  should I be saying conservation, instead of restoration?

Globes are in a weird place. Part map, part instrument, part furniture. Whenever possible, I only wax and polish the furniture. Collectors respect original finishes and patina. The metal (brass or iron) is often out of alignment and/or missing small parts. These, help keep the globe in place and spinning safely. I restore and replace brass parts all the time. I keep absolutely as much original material as possible. I have extensive photos, measurements and drawings of original parts. Raw, bent, crusty brass usually gets ultrasonically cleaned and straightened. If it’s just got a bit of tarnish, it can be left alone. Stay away from the buffing wheel and compounds. As for the orb itself with its plaster, paper, paints and varnish? I remove the varnish (or shellac, or lacquer, or sizing finish) only when it is filthy and ruins the maps use and beauty. My plan there is to bring the varnish back to a look, and feel that the globe might have had in its first 25-50 years of life. The founder of this book bindery Skip Carpenter and my father Bill Jones both restore antique automobiles. I get it.

Conservation usually means consolidation, as invisibly as possible without any additions or changes. Generally small amounts of archival materials are used here.

Restoration is conservation, with small changes to try and bring an object back to its original state. Generally, slightly larger amounts of archival materials are used. 

All things being equal, everyone wants a near perfect old globe. Then they want a solid, maybe dark, but untouched or barely touched globe. Then a cleaned but respectfully conserved and restored globe. Then a damaged but unrestored globe of note. Then a basket case, with previous amateur work.  Values reflect all these states. Collectors and institutions all seem to want legible globes.

     Here Matthew has provided photographs of  a rare James Wilson 9 inch globe that in addition to being quite darkened over time, suffered a pronounced ding to it's surface that affected not only the map but the plaster underneath. These photos show what is possible in the hands of an expert restorer.

Before Restoration
After restoration
Map gores carefully removed
 Notice in the after photo not only is the dent completely gone but the surface of the orb and horizon paper are clean, evenly toned, and remarkably more legible. Also the map colors as the globe maker intended come through. A far more desirable globe from a collecting standpoint.

 4.  What are the most common problems encountered with antique globes ,and
 how are they delt with?   

See above. Filth, grease stains, smoke damage, structural damage, bent or broken metal parts, lost parts or lost sections of paper. 

 5.   Some globes seem to be better survivors than others, in my mind Loring/Joslin falls into this category.  Were some globe better made? Or were there just so many more of some manufactured , and therefore  more survived?

Joslin/ Loring is a prime example of a well made and plentiful globe manufactured in Boston for almost 50 years. Good hardwoods, beautiful turnings, quality brass, and crisply printed cartography, updated with the changes of the time. Also, most if not all are clearly dated.
     Slightly later globes that are decent, are the imported Scottish Johnston’s which were leased out to many US based selling firms. The 18 inch Andrew’s pictured is a transitional globe, made by Johnston, sold by Andrew’s, who had just been purchased by Weber Costello. The one weak spot in these is often the horizon paper. Lesser quality paper, mounting and finishes leave these dark and chippy. I have a small number of accurate facsimiles for repair of these horizons, or replacement. 

      **IN these pictures notice the careful attention to the cartouche and close color matching.**

Cartouche before
Andrews 18 inch orb

Cartouche after

6.  How would a new restoration client go about having work done at Green Dragon Bindery?  Do you send detailed photos, and a description  of what work you'd like to have done?  Or do you send the globe in for estimating?

Email is a good start, with photographs of the globe in question in natural light. A few photographs focusing on the damaged areas and one of the cartouche showing the makers name.  508-842-8250 
and we are on Facebook as Green Dragon Bindery

 7.  What sets Green Dragon Bindery apart from others?

Love of the material, experience, reasonable rates and turn around times and artistic integrity.  We are also prepared to tackle a lot of different challenges. As long as its paper, pasteboard, leather or a small wooden object, we are ready and willing to restore it. If we can’t, we’ll say so.

**All photos in this post are used with permission of, and are property of The Green Dragon Bindery**