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Monday, April 28, 2014

Ebay........my friend and nemisis

  Would globe collecting be possible without Ebay?  Well of course it would be, but it would be much more difficult.  I have a love hate relationship with Ebay.  I love winning, and I hate losing.  I loose a lot more auctions than I win, I imagine most of us do.  I had been interested in old globes before Ebay came into my life, but this site opened up the possibilities of collecting, where else could you sit and click away to view hundreds of different vintage globes all at once, How many flea markets would you have to scour to see just 30 globes?
     On Ebay at any given moment there are over 1000 listings in the antique globes section.  Wow 1000+ listings I could have a full collection in one day!!!  Well lets eliminate the reproductions, and the gemstone globes, and the globe bars, and you are probably down to 200 listings, now eliminate the  "antiques" made in the 80's and 90's and you have 100 listings.  out of these listings at any given time will be 10-15 interesting items and probably 1 or 2 really worth studying.   I really wish ebay would police the antiques section better and at least keep new merchandise off this section.
     This site is still for me probably the most essential way I find new globes to add to my collection.  I have purchased globes many other ways but only on EBay can you make a real score!!!  A lot of you reading this know exactly what I mean.  Finding an auction.......waiting forever, asking questions, asking for more pictures, bugging the seller too much, checking the auction multiple times a day!  Setting up your sniper bid at Gixen, what doesn't everybody do this?  Then finally the moment of truth
2 minutes to go on a 10 day auction, I'm in my chair fidgeting, waiting tic, tic,tic......5 seconds to go...
DON'T BLINK.... the auction is over, you refresh the screen, did i win?  No of course not I was outbid by another sniper, I lost by $5  ooh the regret, would $5 have killed me? Shouldn't I have bid $50 more? 10 days down the drain and i have nothing to show for it.
     But once in awhile I win, I've waited, and I win!!!!  and then every loss is forgotten, because today I didn't loose. That great globe I've been waiting for is mine and all I had to do is agree to spend more for it than every other human on the planet!
    The problem is EBay has changed dramatically over the past 5 years or so, pure auctions are becoming less and less in favor of the fixed price format. " buy it now" I want to admit a bias here, I love auctions, I love everything about them, they add an uncertainty and thrill that is unlike any other. This is exactly what many people hate about eBay and certainly why they seem to favor the fixed price format.   Sellers love fixed price format it takes the mystery away and if you are selling new merchandise it makes sense the market is already set.
    Antiques are not new merchandise, they are old, not mass produced, and in variable condition. So now with fixed price format what you have is a seller who comes across a globe, they've never sold one before, they can't describe it correctly, but THEY know what it's worth and they set the price!  That price seems to always be a high retail price, they found doing a quick Internet search.  Antiques are horrible items to sell as fixed price on eBay, a quality item will find it's audience and will sell accordingly, maybe it will sell for more or less but a fair price will be found.  Antiques and the true auction format just work so well together a natural fit.
     I will on occasion find a great globe that is " just right"  and it will be "fixed price" listed for a lot more than I think is fair. What to do....?  I try to negotiate, I can't see anything wrong with this, some would disagree. It seems to work once out of like 20 times, and is certainly not for the faint of heart, and probably hits an eBay gray area, oh well better to have tried and failed...          
      Of course we all know knowledge is king in the antiques trade, and this is doubly important online, I've never been burned on a globe yet..... I have however, been taken on other deals involving eBay and have applied this hard lesson to globe collecting.  I must admit that I am one of those buyers who asks a lot of questions, and asks for extra pictures, then and only then do I bid.  I've always found that it's so much better to find things out before you buy than trying to resolve a problem after purchase.
   

Monday, April 21, 2014

1938 Crams floor globe

     I own only one floor globe, a beautiful 1938 Crams political reality 16 inch globe. It is the newest globe as well as the largest globe in my collection.   The only globe I have ever successfully purchased in an antiques store. Actually an antiques mall.  It was 7 years ago and I was browsing the aisles of the Ontario antique mall in Canandaigua NY.  I walked by this globe and I was drawn to it, you might say I fell into it's orbit....  I looked at this thing,  walked away,  came back,  studied it, tried to date it with my limited geography knowledge, The best I could place it was pre WW2. I found my wife and showed her the globe she was impressed by it's condition, so we bought it.

1938 Crams floor globe 16 inch

     I was hooked on globes from that moment on, I remember I bought this globe early in the day of what was an all day finger lakes region antiques shopping trip, but I could not wait for the day to be over, and get home so that I could study this globe more.
     I studied this globe I learned all I could about the maker  ( Crams) as well as when it was made. I was able to date it by the European geography, this globe is indeed a snapshot of time it depicts an annexed Austria, as well as an annexed Czechoslovakia but a free Poland.  That puts it's manufacture after September 1938 but before Winter 1939  So I call it a 1938  or is it an early 1939  either way it shows Americas view of a world on the brink of war before our active involvement.  What would a German globe from 1939 look like?....   Here is a close up of Europe: late 1938
Europe on the brink of war.
     I mentioned that I only have one floor globe, obviously these are great statement making globes to have but space becomes a consideration when you start having too many large globes.  In fact I have noticed that sometimes in an auction setting an otherwise great floor globe will not perform as well as a similar desk globe just because of the space requirement eliminates some otherwise interested buyers.
     This globe got me hooked, but I'll tell you I could not have become a real globe enthusiast shopping for antique globes the way I found this one.  This globe was a fluke I was in the right place at the right time, because in 7 more years of antique stores, estate sales, and flea markets, I have seen precious few globes that I would consider collector quality.  The Internet enables this hobby.  I have had interesting conversations with another collector about the Internet, and we have both come to the conclusion that amassing a collection of globes would take an unbelievable amount of work and time without the Internet.   
     In my next post I want to explore globes on the Internet specifically Ebay.       

as always, comment, discuss, disagree with me!  all are welcome!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tips for new globe collectors

     I have had two emails regarding new collectors just starting out,  This is an area I am really interested in, because not all that long ago I was a new collector, and what I don't know about this hobby could fill a book.  So maybe you have an old globe that has been in your family a long time, or like me you stumble onto one at an antique mall.
     Either way the collecting bug has bitten, and you find yourself on Ebay, or doing an Internet search about globe collecting ( hopefully you stumbled onto this blog right now)  I want to share a few tips that I wish I'd known starting out

1. Buy what you like,  this is really advice stolen from 100 other sources, but it is so true, you have to live with the object, you will be walking past it everyday.  Sometimes cost is secondary if you enjoy the sculptural or artistic quality of an antique, if you like a certain style, or era, you can focus on that.  If you like to travel buy a globe made in a country you like to visit. Many countries have produced globes over the years.

2. Don't listen to those ultra high end antiques dealers that may or may not suggest that anything worth collecting was made before 1800,  or 1830,  or some other date they made up,  yes they pull these dates out of thin air to discourage some people,  all the while they are busy buying up all the things that they tell you not to buy.  I have a general dislike for people who claim to be " taste makers"  or "trend setters" there are not enough good old globes to become trendy, and who is anybody to tell me what to like or not.

3. Buy the best you can afford, also tried and true advice from the book world, but it applies here too. Quality matters, buying any antique, in great original condition is ALWAYS the best choice no matter what.

4. Afford what you buy, by this I mean collecting anything, should always be done with discretionary dollars, don't buy any collectible with money that is needed for any other immediate reason, you will regret and or resent your purchase, or worse someone around you will resent your spending.

5. Don't invest in globes, or Maps, or anything else antique or collectible, this is contrarian advice, but for a beginner it is sound advice. If you buy what you like, and buy the best you can afford, you may well see a monetary gain down the road. I do not know enough to invest in globes, I also feel that an investment by definition will be sold to meet a monetary need later, a true collector does not want to part with their collection just because the market is up and it's time to sell.  Hopefully my kids will be the ones deciding on a sale, after I'm gone, if I'm lucky one of them will want the collection themselves......I can only hope....

6. You will buy your first 1 or 2 globes on a whim, and probably for not a lot of money, when the time comes and you cross the $100 threshold to purchase a globe you need to then do a lot of research, learn age, rarity, globe maker, recent sales,comparable models, inspect for condition issues, ect.

7. Don't forget globe related items such as ads, and globe guides, as well as catalogs produced by school supply companies, these can be fascinating additions to a globe collection.   This is actually an area  that I am going to write more about soon.

8. Have fun!  I love hunting for the next treasure, meeting people who share my interest, I even like cleaning my globes. When it becomes a chore or feels like work; then it's time to sell...so call me... ha ha

These are just a few things that I think are important when it comes to collecting, there are so many more but if you keep these tips in mind as you set out you'll have more fun and avoid some costly mistakes along the way.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Globe conservation, and protection

     "Is there anything special I need to do to take care of an antique globe? "   This question seems to come up quite often, for this I think we need to steal a page from those who collect antiquarian books. Globes are essentially works on paper, so it stands to reason that what is good for books, is also good for maps and globes.
     The most important thing you can do is dust your collection, many old globes show the effect of poor housekeeping on their surface. Take a good look at a globe especially one 80-100 years old and a pattern will usually emerge. The top 1/2 of the globe will be darker, and a bit duller than the bottom, this is an accumulation of dust and grime from a century of existence, also horizon rings are susceptible to dust buildup and often darken with time.  I use a swiffer duster, at least weekly and I take my time not to snag the duster on any parts. It seems to be the best method I've found so far. I like to keep a separate swiffer just for my collection, apart from the one used in the rest of the house, just so I know it has not picked up anything sticky, or abrasive in it's travels. ( I've got a 3 and 6 year old to consider )
     Protection from sunlight is also important, UV rays will fade many printed surfaces, just think of a newspaper that was left outside even for a few days, it will be noticeably faded.  So how to protect a whole collection?  I have taken an extreme measure and installed UV blocking window film to all windows in the two rooms that house my collection, this step is in addition to window shades that also significantly dim the visible light in these two rooms.  Is this all necessary? I don't really know but I don't want to take any chances with my collection. I want to show this picture the window on the right has a UV blocking film treatment and the window on the left does not, this is at 1pm on a fairly sunny day.
Notice the glare on the left, and on the right it's as if the window had sunglasses on.


   I live fairly far north, and receive far less intense sunlight than someone in the southwest, or southeast, but for piece of mind these steps seem reasonable to me.
     Humidity is also an enemy of paper, and wood.  Too wet is probably worse than too dry, but neither extreme is very good.  Humidity is going to be a larger problem if you live in an area of the country that is chronically humid like Florida, or chronically dry like Arizona.  Winter dryness is a problem  in the north where the heat goes on in October and stays on until May, I monitor humidity, because I am worried about dryness, ideal humidity is between 40-60%  if you are comfortable, your globes will be comfortable too.
     Handling your collection, I handle my globes all the time, I just use common sense. Globes are ment to be touched, I know I can't pass by a globe at a flea market and not touch it, I even let my kids touch my globes ( with supervision ) that way their curiosity won't get the best of them when I'm not around.....I hope...
     Now I want to switch gears a bit and talk about insurance, even the best homeowners policy will not cover you if a prized globe is dropped, or is stolen, or if flood or fire wipe out your entire collection, If you've spent a decade assembling a prized collection then it only makes sense to insure it, you are insuring all of the time you spent hunting for your treasure as well. There are specialist insurers out there for people who's collection starts to outpace the limits of their regular homeowners policy. Believe me it does not take long to surpass the meager limits on a regular homeowners policy. As with any consumer product some companies are better than others, I am not an expert so I will not recommend any one company, but it is certainly worth having in my opinion.
     I have probably taken more steps than most people to keep a constant environment, my globes sit in the dark most of the time, even at noon I have to turn a light on to really see my collection, extreme? probably, but I look at it this way. I own these globes now, but I won't own them forever. They are in my care, until the next caretaker steps in. Gutenberg bibles, they are not, but anything worth collecting is worth protecting in my opinion.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Black ocean globes to buy or not to buy, that is the question....

     Black ocean globes, are all the rage aren't they?  I don't know because I don't own any!  That doesn't mean much, I'm way behind the times on most things anyway ( I still have a rotary phone )  But seriously, we need to talk about these globes their time is NOW , what to look for, what to avoid, and what to expect when you go to purchase one.
Weber Costello Airplane base 1949

     Let's start with the grandaddy of them all the Weber Costello Airplane base . Weber Costello one of the most prolific of the Chicago globe makers is probably most famous for their airplane base globe, produced in one form or another for nearly 20 years from the late 1930's to the late 1950's.  If there is a globe cross collectible it is this globe, Art deco fans love it, 50's mod decor folks love it, globe collectors of all stripes love it!  Dare I say the most collected globe out there, can I lavish any more onto this globe..........?  Well I don't own one, but I really love this globe it will not be missing from my collection for long I start my search today!  
     So what to look for, Weber made several versions of this globe some more desirable, some less desirable; lets dig in shall we.  In the late 1930's this globe was born, but with a very simple airplane base, in either wood or chrome, this was replaced a few years later with the chrome airplane base that we think of most commonly with this globe, now fast foreword to the 1950's they made a third version of the airplane base but it was a bronze/ chrome base, the globe was also available with the more traditional greenish/ blue ocean.   So these are all airplane base globes, but which is most desirable?
   1. By far the chrome jet airplane base with black globe is THE one  2. Next is the early stylized chrome airplane, black ocean. 3. The copper airplane base is least desirable.
Weber Costello Peerles 1955

     In the 1950's Weber Costello made another VERY similar globe, the same in every way to their classic airplane base, they also called it The Peerless, it is a black ocean globe with a chrome dome base. The only difference in these globes is in the base, but try to buy both of these globes and you will probably pay 4x's the money for the airplane base as compared to the Peerless globe with the simpler chrome base.  I am showing a picture of each globe. they are from different years, but they would match ( except base) if from the same year.  The power of cross collectible popularity!
Replogle Starlight globe 1954

     Finally jumping on the bandwagon with a chrome base, black ocean globe was Replogle, they created a great globe called "The Starlight"  A great black ocean globe in it's own right it is probably as popular as the Weber Peerless, domed base globe, this model was cool because it came with a full meridian ring and was mounted in such a way as to be able to be turned upside down, a neat feature. Interesting to note Replogle still makes this model today.
     I want to share what I would be looking at if I were in the market for any of these globes. They were popular, and made over a long period of time, so just like I mentioned in a previous post I would buy on condition alone. For example if I was offered a 1946-48 Weber airplane base in good condition, or a 1955 Weber in excellent condition,  I would buy the newer but better conditioned 1955 example.
     One more thought, at some point the 50's modern look will fade from popularity, trends always do, and when that happens these globes will most likely see a decrease in value, I think right now probably 20-40% of their price is built into their trendiness.

** I purposely did not mention the black and chrome Brittanica globe, I think the other 3 listed above are much more desirable, and are redily available, I would not purchase a Brittanica globe, but if you are just decorating and not collecting then this globe does provide  " the look"  **

All photos in this post are courtesy of Carolyn, at Vintage Cals on Etsy.com  thank you Carolyn!


As always, please comment, lets discuss!!

****Update  1/26/15   A few months back I was able to score a very nice Weber Costello Peerless globe nearly identical to the one pictured in this post, very good condition save for one minor blemish it is a great globe to have, still easily obtainable compared to many other globes in my collection It should be stressed to buy the best condition you can afford and you will not be disappointed!  ****


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gilman Joslin globes

 
1890 Joslin full mount globe, bronze tripod stand

      One of the most prolific globe makers of  the 19th century Gilman Joslin produced globes for nearly fifty years.  It is because of this longevity that today Joslin globes come to market regularly and are some of the most accessible globes from the 1860's to 1890's.   Several times a year nice examples of Joslin globes are offered for sale through mid to high end auction houses in the United states, occasionally Ebay has one for sale.  Prices for Joslin globes vary widely based on condition, age and mounting style.
     I am fortunate to own one Joslin globe, but I have to say.... I want more!  My example is a delightful full mount 12 inch table globe from 1890, with the most desirable heavy bronze tripod stand.
What I find appealing about these globes is their look.  Joslin made globes for many years using the same mount designs. Until you get up close you can't tell at a glance weather you are looking at an 1865 or an 1895 globe, only the political boarders give away the date of production.
     So these globes were designed in the 1860's and early 1870's and looking at one you know it's old.  These globes carry the weight of 150 years, as a history buff I can't help but think about the time and place these beautiful objects were produced.  I look at the globe I own and I think about the world of 1890, The automobile although invented had not hit the street . Travel by steam locomotive by land, and ocean liner at sea was the height of luxury.
     I can't help but think who purchased this globe originally in 1890?  What did they think of the world they were exploring with the use of this globe?   At $25 this was a luxury purchase in it's time.
excerpt from Joslin catalog 1885   
      Could the person purchasing a globe like this possibly imagine that in 10 or 15 years they would be driving an automobile? Or that in their lifetime man would take to the sky in the airplane?   We think about how fast our world is changing today, I can hardly imagine the profound technology changes that folks living in this past era experianced.
     Getting back to globes from this era there are several interesting geographical features, that are present.  Firstly up to about 1895 or so, the Antarctic region is largely blank, fascinating that a whole continent is missing!  Secondly for U.S history buffs until 1889 Dakota territory was one large area instead of 2 separate states, also the Hawaiian Islands, are refered to as the Sandwich Islands.  Not to mention the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires in Europe.
     Joslin as a mass producer, made models as small as 6 inches and as large as 16 inches, over many decades, for schools and homes. A collection of his globes exclusively  would be quite an accomplishment.  Here are a few more scans from the same 1885 catalog.


 

 Joslin was the last of what I call the first wave of globe manufactures in the U.S. others I would include in this group are of course Wilson, Holbrook, Nims, Lorring ( Joslin's predesessor ) , and Shedler. These were all east coast based manufactures.  With the second wave producers such as Rand McNally, Weber Costello, and later Crams, and Replogle we see production  center in the Midwest.  Joslin never made the move and ended globe production near the turn of the 20th century 
     In closing this post I'd like to offer a personal commentary on American globes from the 19th century.  These globes are crafted with the pride of a new country, a country in the midst of a huge industrial and geographic expansion. The quality of craftsmanship displayed in these globes, and mounts is superior to much of what came after it in the 20th century, of course these companies were selling to the wealthier members of our society.  The majority of Americans living at that time could not afford one of these globes. Perhaps therein lies these companies downfall, because as we'll see when globe production moves to Chicago we start to see the full effect of large scale mass production, less robust materials, and less hand production; but a dramatic fall in prices that makes the globe more accessible to everyday Americans.