Friday, March 28, 2025

Welcome to a blog about collecting Antique terrestrial, and celestial globes

     A lot of people I know who collect anything or who are passionate about a hobby usually get started by accident ( someone buys them a gift, or they stumble upon an object in an antique store) or they start collecting because they know of another collector or are exposed to it at some point IE your dad collected xyz so now you are interested.
     I think collecting globes is an accidental hobby, at least it was for me I doubt too many people know a globe collector, they are rarely displayed in museum or gallery settings, so exposure to another collector is rare. In fact I have only face to face met a handful of other collectors in over a decade.
1930 Rand McNally globe pair 
     So as I sit and write I think if there are only 50 people around who seriously collect globes than why blog at all. Well I'll answer my own question ( I'll probably do that a lot) I think globe collecting is in it's infancy. It is certainly not popular like some collecting genres. I think there are a lot of reasons for this there certainly are barriers to entry, old globes are hard to find, most antique dealers have none, in fact I visit a huge antique mall in Rochester NY fairly often and I see few if any globes and the few I see are either too beat up or too new to interest me. They take up a lot of space, after you buy your 3rd globe you will realize one of 2 things either  1. I need to change my decorating to include globes, or  2. I need to devote a whole room to my collection; many people will do neither of these things and will not pursue the hobby.
     So then why collect globes?  For me the answer is as simple as Art , Science, and History.  I love all three to varying degrees and an old globe has the potential to offer all three.    Antique globes were created at a time and with materials that are just not as commonly used today. Wood, plaster, brass, paper.  Common materials employed for their durability, built to last.  Craftsmanship that has stood the test of time. 
     As a collector my goal is to assemble a representative collection that spans a century and a half of globe production in America from 1811 until about 1950.  Won't you join me on this quest, read on and we can learn from each other.  Scroll through my posts, 120 and counting, 5 years worth, they start with the most recent and keep reading, and exploring! 
     Just two rules............1. don't be afraid to contact me, either in post, or via email, and 2. Let's have a bit of fun along the way.......

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Exploring the Brimfield antiques show 2019

Waiting to "Rush" May's field 9/5/19
     I love Brimfield,  I'm sure it's heyday was 20 years ago but where else are you going to find a sea of humanity trading antiques in such a manner.  Rich, poor, simple, and sophisticated, in Brimfield knowledge is power,  the great equalizer .     I love the September show,  sure some say May is bigger, but the combination of weather and timing just combine to really work for me to make September a tradition.   This year I took a long time friend for his first time waking at dawn, driving in the dark,  parking in the grass.  I knew I was in for an interesting few days when he said to me 3 hours into our 1st day " I've gone 52 years having never used a portages John "  I replied " well we've got 4 more hours to go, I think your streak ends today" good times were had!
The sea of humanity, antiquers on a mission


condition issues
     Now, I do collect many more things than globes,  I just happen to be much more passionate about globes than anything else, but I also like old medical items, antique coin operated trade stimulators, and old trade signs,  so Brimfield is my chance to look for anything I might find interesting to add to my collection.  Some of my best scores, and biggest mistakes have been made in the heat of the moment here.   One thing I never seem to find is a great globe,  it seems either the condition is not right, or the price is not right, or something.
     Here are a few examples of what I run into,  this first globe is an 8 inch Hammond's globe, that had major condition issues,  the price was quoted as $375,  the dealer extolled the virtues of the beautiful stand, but he failed to understand that the value lies in having a crisp pristine map.

mystery prices
      This group looked promising from a distance,  I was inspecting the globes and right a way the condition was lacking,  I was curious about prices, but here we had a dealer with no price tags,  I see this a lot at shows like this,  unpriced merchandise .   I as a customer just don't understand this.  It would save me a lot of time and save the dealer a lot of time if the items were priced.  the 12 inch globe was $300,  the floor globe $500,  however the floor globe was beyond help with water damage, I was perplexed as to how $500 could be the price?  I inquired,  I then learned that this particular globe had a provenance,  it had come out of some risky dink college library that NOBODY has ever heard of.......OH OK.... mystery solved,  I hope he like loading and unloading this thing at 10 shows.
Replogle clock globe
     Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations,  maybe I'm the customer from hell.  I hope not,  I'm willing to pay for knowledge, and quality, and condition.  I just hate to fritter away money on junk.   To the left ( captioned Replogle clock globe) I found a very nice example of a Replogle World time globe.  It was priced very reasonably at $175 and I'm sure it did not last,  the clock was demonstrated as working and the orb was very nice!   I didn't buy it because it's not really what I like to collect but I know somebody got a nice addition to their collection with this one.
Rand McNally 18 inch globe

      Here Is another globe that Is really rare in any form, an 18 inch table globe by Rand McNally from the 1890's.   Table globes of this vintage are hard to find in this colossal 18 inch size,   this globe was priced to sell at $200,  I suspect there was even wiggle room there.   It needed some TLC to be great,  including new shellac , because someone had stripped it,  and some minor crack repair.   I thought long and hard about this one because I'm just not the collector for this globe, but for the right person this could be a winner.  I chatted with the dealer,  seems it was a recent estate find.
A whole globe collection!
      This collection of objects were interesting,  2 Trippensee planetariums, and a lovely 8 inch Kittenger table globe,  the black painted Trippensee was the EXACT planetarium I saw from this dealer last year this thing has seen Brimfield possibly 4 times and has not sold.  Probably because the prices are up in the heavens.   Last year was one overpriced globe,  now there are 3 overpriced items sitting in a pasture in Massechesutes ( not Madison ave) as the pricing might suggest.   I was interested in the Kittinger,  but the price was so far from reality I felt as if  I couldn't even start negotiating.

      I hope all of my snark is not off-putting especially if this is your first brush with my blog.    I seem to become frustrated easily at shows,  I'm sure dealers are easily frustrated by moronic customers, but such is life.   I love Brimfield, and I love the chance if remote in finding something great.  It's a yearly ritual.  It's awesome!!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

James Wilson 1828 globe part 3, The restoration process behind the scenes

     Since starting this blog back in 2014,  I have talked about globe restoration on several occasions, I have even interviewed experts in the field.  It was not until recently that I myself had reason to work with a restorer on one of my own globes.
     That occasion came with my acquisition of a James Wilson globe,  a globe that had been darkened by dirt, grime, and time to the point where the legibility of the map surface was impacted to the point that enjoyment of the artifact was impacted,  restoration made sense.
The globe before any restoration, complete, and intact but quite dirty
     So how did I get started,  first step in this process I emailed Matthew Jones at Green Dragon Bindery,  I sent many bright, clear photographs.  He was able to offer a preliminary assessment of the work needed,  based on his analysis I decided to move forward, I shipped the globe off.   After receiving the globe, and examining it in person I received a clear estimate of the work required.  That work included, a removal of the old darkened varnish, cleaning and re-aligning the brass parts, re-gluing the wooden joints, stabilizing a small crack at the poles, and finally re-varnish the orb and horizon band.

      As important as what was done for this globe is what was not done.  It was decided that re coloring of the map surface, or the horizon band were not needed, also the original red paint on the edge of the horizon was left as is, finally the original finish on the stand was left these items were in fine antique shape there was no need to over restore this globe.
     These two photos of the horizon band show the tedious process of removing 190 years of dirt and grime.  This was probably the dirtiest part of the globe as it sat horizontal and collected the most environmental contaminants.  Notice the incredible difference between the cleaned vs dirty sections.   It is important I think to mention that having the original shellac in place all these years was a wonderful thing as it protected the paper underneath allowing this cleaning to be so successful.
   In this next photo the map surface is starting to be rid of the old dirty varnish.  Again the varnish did it's job protecting the map surface all these years.

These photographs to the left show the globe stand being re-glued in order to hold this globe securely for the next 100 years.  It was fortunate that this stand was free from cracks, splits or breaks, and the original finish was intact .  A minimum of work was required to bring this stand back to tip top shape.

This next photo with the orb in a wooden jig, is showing the application of a new shellac coating. It is here for the first time that the original colors of the 1828 map are revealed as the globe maker intended.  The greens, reds, and blues were still present under that old shellac surface.

     Next on the agenda were the brass fittings,  two things were done with the brass fittings, firstly they were checked and corrected to make sure they were in proper alignment, after that they were cleaned in what I will describe as a sympathetic manner.  By this I mean that they were NOT polished back to a gleaming as new shine,  instead care was taken to polish the metal parts to even out the finish as well as be careful to respect that fact that these are nearly 200 year old parts.

     As you can see this restoration focused on the removal of dirt and grime, there were no replacement parts required, nor was there any need for the addition of map coloring .  A new varnish coating and some new glue to the joints is all that was added to this Wilson globe in order to bring it back to a condition where it can be enjoyed for the next 100 years.
     Restoration of this globe went smoothly, there were no surprises along the way.  It was probably the first time this globe had been touched with the aim pf restoration in it's entire existence.   I believe I was extremely fortunate to have found this globe in such condition.   I would guess that globes of this vintage rarely come up for sale in better condition.  This final picture is the finished product, certainly the cornerstone of my collection.   Now the hunt commences for the celestial companion......
The end result, 1828 James Wilson globe after restoration

     My goal with this post is to de-mystify the restoration process,  this was my first restoration project and although I had some idea as to what to expect you're never sure what to expect until you've gone through the process.  I want to thank the staff of the Green Dragon Bindery, with special thanks to Matthew Jones for his skill as well as his patience working with a neophyte restoration client.  An exceptional result !

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Weber Costello 8 inch globe FOR SALE

     I'm listing here before I hit the bay,     I am offering a very nice 1928 Weber Costello 8 inch globe for sale.   I am selling because I have a nearly identical globe in a different mount.  Please see all pictures,  and enlarge all pictures,  there are some minor spots in the finish,  but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer example of this globe.  It is also such a desirable size,  it spins perfectly,  and it has no losses to the map,  no gouges no dents.  I'm asking $375,   that will include shipping to the 48 states,  elsewhere please ask for a shipping quote.   if interested please email directly at

James Wilson 1828 globe part 2 Before and after

     This is part 2 of a 3 part series chronicling the acquisition and restoration of a rare James Wilson terrestrial globe of 1828.  
      In my last post I talked a bit about finding this globe, for this post I will talk about the amazing before and after restoration.   In the final post I'll go in depth with the process of the globes restoration.
      I took a  series of photographs in my first blog post, I will in this post recreate those exact photos but with the newly restored globe.

1828 Wilson globe, before
1828 Wilson globe, after

In this 1st set of photographs it's obvious the transformation this globe underwent.  Nearly 200 years of dust, and environmental contaminants were removed to reveal the original map surface underneath.   The brass pieces were polished, but they were purposefully not brought up to a gleaming shine, which would not have fit the character of the globe.

North America before

North America after

     This second set of photos I have highlighted the North American continent.    Here you can also see the cleaning that was done to the horizon band.   The globe was nearly illegible under so much dirt, grime and discoloring,  but much of that grime sat on and in the old varnish layer on the globe. This old varnish protected the map surface underneath.  It did it's job incredibly well.   I should note that all of the color in the " after" photographs is completely original to the globe.  There was no addition of color during the conservation process.    In my mind unless the globe is damaged it is better to take a less is more approach to any restoration process.   I suppose I could have asked for the map surface to be re colored, or the horizon ring to be brightened further with pigments etc,  but at what point do you go from uncovering the past to re creating the past?    I wanted this globe to be true to itself,  it's 190 years old,  it's not going to look new,  nor should it.   With that said this globe was fortunate in that it was basically just very dirty.   There were no missing parts, holes, or such to deal with.
globe and stand, after

globe and stand, before

  This next set of photographs shows another view of the map surface and the stand.  The wooden pieces on this globe underwent  no restoration of the finish,  the original finish remains.  The only thing I might do to the finish is apply a coating of high grade furniture wax. Beeswax would have been available throughout this globe's life and I think that would be appropriate in this case.

cartouche before

cartouche after

      Finally I wanted to provide a before and after photo of the globe's cartouche.  Certainly it was legible before restoration, but the difference is dramatic in the after shot.          I've been collecting for q while now,  almost 15 years and this is the first globe that I have undertaken to have professionally restored.  I think the conservation and restoration process is a mystery to most people.  It is a service that most people will go their whole lives never using, be it for a globe, books, maps or other paper items.  In part 3 of this 3 post wonder, I want to pull the Curtain back on this globes restoration  with some mid restoration photographs.  I will also get into what I feel to be important questions to ask when it comes to having a restoration like this done.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Globe collecting article featuring yours truly !!

     A few months back I did an interview for Antique Week Magazine   and this week it hit newsstands ( do they exist anymore) .  Anyhow I hope I did the globe collecting hobby justice here are a couple of screenshots any feedback is welcome!   Click on the link and find the July 8th article.
Front cover, featuring my Wilson globe

page 2

Thursday, June 13, 2019

James Wilson terrestrial globe, 1828 part 1

     Opportunity knocks sometimes when you least expect it.  Such is the story behind my acquisition of what will surely become the cornerstone of my globe collection.    Just this week I was able to purchase a James Wilson terrestrial globe dated 1828.   This globe is and may possibly stay the oldest globe in my collection.  Wilson, is credited with selling the first American produced globes in  1811,  this globe is  a mere 17 years after that event.
     This globe represents for me the bookend of my collection,  I like to say I'm collecting American globes from Wilson to Weber, this now is truth.  Adding a globe from the father of American globe making adds a level of completeness to my collection.  A far more advanced collector than I once said no collection of American globes is complete without a James Wilson globe.

     So  let's study this relic,  it is a full mount table globe 13 inches in diameter, by far James Wilson's most common globe size.
James Wilson &Sons 13 inch globe, 1828
     Now I know what your thinking,   that thing looks pretty crusty!  Yes it does, but underneath that badly darkened varnish lies an exceptionally well preserved globe over 190 years old.   It is actually in marvelous preservation, it even spins smoothly and freely in it's brass meridian.   The frame apart from being dry and tired retains it's original finish and the horizon band is nearly completely intact, albeit under many layers of crusty varnish. Most importantly the thumb screw that holds the globe meridian still in the meridian is present.  Often these screws went missing and that's when a lot of damage occurs with these old globes.     All things considered this globe is exactly what you want to find in a nearly 200 year old artifact.  This is a great example of a globe that has not been messed with.  There have not been previous restorations, or conservation attempts.  Also most importantly there is an absence of water damage, be it from actually getting wet, or the ravages of damp storage. Somehow this globe has escaped those fates.  A survivor in the truest sense of the word.
      This globe shows the geography of 1828,  half of the western US is still Mexico,  another large section is simply Oregon territory.    Andrew Jackson was elected ( rather contentiously) in 1828, defeating John Quincy Adams.
     James Wilson's sons had by 1828 taken over the firm their father had built and were continuing the quality globe production of their father.   In Part 2 of this post I'm going to show the remarkable  "After"  photographs that show this globe fully conserved.
    So what's to be done to this globe?  Well in a short while I will place this globe in the very capable hands of the experts at Green Dragon Bindery.  It is there that this globe will be expertly cleaned, aligned, and re-varnished, with a few minor touch ups along the way. In other words it will be properly conserved,  notice I didn't say restored.  There is a difference.  With a globe this old sometimes less is more.
      This globe is certain to become a favorite because of the American ingenuity it represents in it's manufacture as well as it's place in history.
Packed and shipping out for restoration 
     A few thoughts about James Wilson and his globe making career.  In my mind I divide James Wilson globes  into 3 time periods of globe manufacture, as follows.

1st period:  from 1810 until 1826:  James Wilson himself is at the helm of his enterprise, starting in 1817 until 1826 he works and builds his enterprise with his sons.

2nd period :  1826 until 1833:  James Wilson steps back from day to day operations, and the responsibilities fall to his two sons,  Cyrus Lancaster , James's son in law enters the firm in 1826.

3rd Period: 1833 until 1850's:  James Wilson looses his two sons in 1833, and Cyrus Lancaster continues the firm ,  the cartouche at this point changes from James Wilson &sons to Cyrus Lancaster.

  UPDATE:   JULY 9, 2019:    Heres a sneak peek at the globe mid restoration,  with thanks to Matthew at The Green Dragon Bindery
Amazing transformation
1829 James Wilson globe

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Spring cleaning

The old drafting table I use to display gets a full
once over as well
     Every spring,  and usually in the fall, I tear apart my globe room and clean,  clean,  clean.   I use this opportunity to dust all those hard to reach places, clean the windows, etc.   You know all the jobs you dread .     This also gives me a chance to inspect my globes one by one.  I look for dust and buildup primarily, but I also get a chance to inspect for anything else that might befall a collection that remains stationary 364.5 days of the year.

     The whole experience takes a few hours,  we don't have pets so I'm safe from the chance damage a curious pooch or a climbing kitty might cause.    I actually look forward to my cleaning days, it's a chance to commune with my collection, I'm surprisingly hands off most of the time.

Globes get scattered about, I pick a day when the
kids are in school, better safe than sorry

I want to mention that all of these pictures are on the dark side because I take great pains to keep a low light environment.  I use 3M window film to block UV light.  And I use LED lighting to minimize any indoor UV exposure,  this is just what museums are doing to keep their collections safe, besides it saves electricity and that's a good thing. 

I stage each globe for a more thorough cleaning

Everything back safe and sound, those windows are
BTW completely blacked out.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Globe mounting styles explained

     I've had a couple questions lately that got me thinking about the terms used to describe globes and one area I think could use some clarity is that of globe mounting styles.
     A globe mount is simply how a globe is attached to a base so that it can spin.  If you boil it down there are really 3 types of globe mounts.   1. Offset, or simple mount  2. Meridian mount,  3. Full mount.  I want to explain in words and pictures examples of each, so let's get started.

Offset, or simple mount
1.  Offset or simple mounted globe:   This is a globe that is affixed to a base either upright or canted at 23.5 degrees with no metal ring surrounding it( meridian ring) and no horizon band .  It is a stand and a globe.  It was popular for inexpensive school globes because they were the least costly to produce as well as the least expensive to purchase.  After WW2 they started a steady decline in popularity.  Here are a few examples.

1/2 meridian
full meridian
  2.  Meridian mounted globe:   This style globe is very popular today,  but it's been manufactured for a couple hundred years in the US .   This is a globe mounted on a base with either a full meridian or 1/2 meridian usually made of metal and usually with graduations in degrees marked out.    Most new globes sold today have at least a 1/2 meridian .   Many full meridian globes, also rest in a metal cradle or fork that holds the globe and allows it to be adjusted to any position and then secured via a "set" screw, here are some examples of this style

Full mount globe
3. Full mount : A full mount globe has a full meridian, as well as a horizon band ( commonly made of wood) that encircles the globe at a 90 degree angle to the meridian.   It is considered the most complete mount, it is the most traditional mounting style, and historically was by far the most common way globes were produced up until the mid point of the 19th century,  they are still made and sold today.  They are because of the materials involved the most expensive globes to produce.

     Just as then, today collectors can find all styles, and plenty of variations of these 3 main styles for sale, and just as then sometimes the price of a vintage globe is influenced by it's mounting style.  All other things being equal I would expect to pay about 20% more for a globe in full meridian and an additional 20% premium for a fully mounted globe.
     For example if you were to find a nice 8 inch Weber Costello globe with claw foot base in the simple mount I'd expect the price to be $250-$400 based on condition( at auction).  If this same globe, same condition were in a full meridian, I would expect $300- $500.  And If this globe came up at auction in it's full mount variant ( the most rare) I would expect to pay somewhere in the $400- $650 price range.  Again this is a very rough guide but I want to illustrate how the globe mount will affect value.

Happy Hunting......

Friday, April 26, 2019

1940's C S Hammond celestial globe, and an eBay adventure

     As some of you will know, I'm on eBay every day checking for items that in my mind hit that sweet spot of condition, age and rarity .  Bonus points if this item can be had at a great price!
     This past Saturday I hit the trifecta.  I found a C S Hammond's celestial globe listed in the antique map section,  not the sub section of globes but in the broader map category, it was listed with a fair description and less than great pictures,  several of those pictures seemed to highlight damage to the globe, but more on that later,  heres what I found:
1940's CS Hammond celestial glob

     This globe came my way via a BIN style listing on eBay.  Free shipping was included in the listing price.  The price was such that even with the apparent flaws I had no qualms buying this globe.  So what is it?   This globe is a collaboration between CS Hammond of NY and Denoyer Geppert of Chicago.  The orb is from Hammond's and the base and mounting is from Geppert.    This is a 12 inch globe certainly meant for a school setting.  Unlike many other celestial globes this one is no nonsense.  It is a tool for study, it is not decorated with zodiac creatures in the background, it is simply constellations , with no adornments.  It sits in a forked meridian which allows it to be rotated easily in any direction. The base has a swivel feature that allows the meridian to spin independently of the orb.   The base is a simple hammertone painted metal; sturdy and functional, again not necessarily decorative.  It definitely  has the "look" of the late 1930's or 1940's .  A completely functional celestial globe for schools.
Actual Denoyer Geppert Ad, 1952
     Now I mentioned something about an eBay adventure,   First I want to mention a few things about this globe, and how it was originally sold.  It came in 3 styles a simple offset mount, with no meridian,  this style with a moveable meridian , and finally a fully mounted version with a wooden horizon band,  This globe was also available as a 16 inch version, in all 3 mounting styles.  Now I'm unclear if Just Denoyer Geppert sold this item or if Hammond's also sold this globe. Further research will have to be done.
      As It sits this globe is in exceptional preservation , just a hint of wear on the base as well as on the orb, but not much.  This is exactly as I like to add items to my collection.   That's certainly why I only seem to add one or two new things a year on average, I seem to turn down 99 out of 100 old globes that I consider.
     So, on to my eBay adventure.    I saw this globe during a search, and the pictures were dim, and a bit out of focus.  They also highlighted some issues,  mainly a disfiguring piece of masking taps across the base, as well as some white residue in several spots on the globe orb.  Here are pictures from the listing.

     These two pictures are representative of what I was looking at in the listing.  See the base must have had something written in masking tape and I'm still not sure what this white residue was on the orb itself.  Now normally I would pass by such a globe, but I was feeling uncharacteristically daring.  I knew a few tricks I was willing to try to remove the tape, and I thought I might also be able to remove the white stuff also.    So I bought the thing, and FedEx dropped it off at 8:30 this morning.   Right out of the box I figured I better tackle the tape, or else I'd just re-list the thing.   This type of hammered finish paint was common in the 1930's and 40's and I had encountered it before on other collectibles.  The key to removing the adhesive and not the paint was a 12 and 1/2 mix of canola oil and baking soda .  I made a paste and applied,  waited 30 minutes, and repeated.  It took about 4 applications but sure enough the base came out looking almost new.  
This picture shows the base, all cleaned up, and also in a much better light than the eBay pictures,  I tell ya.... If I had a buck for every eBay auction I've seen with lousy pictures......   In this day and age how hard is it to take a decent picture?
      OK, I digress,  back to the topic at hand,  the white stuff, was on 4-5 different places on the orb, and I was very fortunate that a product called Absorene which is a rubber like putty was able to lift every last spot and bring the orb back to life.   All in all I spent about 2 hours working on this globe and the final results are wonderful.  
     This now becomes one of the newest globes in my collection,  but I've always been drawn to this model of celestial globe.  For one thing it was sold at a time when most globe manufactures in the USA had ceased production of celestial globes, Rand Mcnally still made them, and theirs were still decorative objects.  This model seems destined for many an astronomy classroom to be studied and worked with as a tool ,  science first, art ..... well not even thought of.    That's kinda what Denoyer Gepppert globes are all about, a no nonsense approach ,   a focus on the education market.   Very little attempt to sell to households.   The Americanized celestial globe if you will.
Elegant in its simplicity. 

      One final thing,  on the underside of the base some writing was found that explained a lot about this globe.   One word said simply " GS Library"   so this globe lived in some sort of library probably a school library not a public library. Also written were the words. " Discarded 4-85". I believe that this meant that the aforementioned library sold or gave this globe away in April 1985.  So this globe served it's purpose for nearly 40 years before being moved along.   That probably explains why it has remained in such nice shape, it was institutionally owned, then some employee probably took it home and it sat there for the next 30 years until their estate sale.........then through the antiques chain to me.

Happy hunting.....