Monday, September 18, 2017

8 inch Rand McNally celestial globe PURCHASE OPPRUTUNITY

      Every now and again, the stars align......ha.....  I have been informed via a fellow collector that he wishes to sell his Rand McNally Celestial globe and star finder.  Below I have many pictures of the actual item in question.

 This is Rand Mcnally's quite desirable celestial globe from the early 1930's it is mounted on a tripod ball and claw stand, it is complete with horizon paper intact.  I can confirm though not pictured that it even has the original instruction booklet titled " Astronomy Made Easy, by William Johnson.
     This globe is in very nice overall condition, it does have issue on one side of the globe there are three indents clearly visible in the 3rd, and 4th picture. I encourage you to zoom in for a better look.
    All three indents are visible and in close proximity, the rest of the orb is in exceptional condition.
     This globe stands in at a bit over 14" tall and as a celestial full
                                                      mount globe of nearly 85 years of age is an impressive piece.   The set screw that holds the orb to the stand is present ( often missing)  The horizon paper is nicely intact also this is easily damaged on many globes, but because it is such an integral part of this globe all the more reason to have it intact.  I should note that the poles are intact, as is the hour circle at the top of the globe.  All in all a nice package.  The globe and the accompanying original instruction book are being offered at:   $975 plus shipping.

 ***    I am posting this for the owner, please email me if interested and I will forward your interest to the collector and you and he will deal directly.  I make no commission on this, I'm delighted to be able to bring this globe to my blog community as an offer for sale.   So please contact me via email and I'll expedite your information to the seller. ***

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rand McNally Celestial globe and star finder, an in depth examination

     In 1930 Rand McNally launched a line of globes that were a departure from anything they had offered before.  The celestial globe and star finder is a unique globe both for it's aesthetics as well as it's positioning and timing in the marketplace.  I have posted about this particular globe before but now I want to go in depth, the definitive post if you will. So here's the globe we're talking about:
8 inch celestial globe and star finder, 1930

     This globe was a departure for Rand McNally because up until this point they had not manufactured a celestial globe.  Rand McNally entered the globe market in the late 1880's when selling to schools was where all the money was, and schools just didn't buy celestial globes.  Rand McNally caught up in a big way with arguably one of the most beautiful celestial globes to ever come from an American manufacturer.
original catalog ad.
     The celestial globe and star finder, was offered in one size only that being as an 8 inch globe, but it could be ordered in 4 different mounting styles, this next picture shows the original Rand McNally catalog page with the ad for the celestial globe.  This globe was sold in the early 1930's for between $9.60 and $24.00 .  These were expensive pieces to own especially considering the depths of the depression.  Suffice it to say that Rand McNally didn't sell these globes in huge numbers like their terrestrial counterparts. Thus they are so much harder to find now.  I purchased my example in 2011 via eBay and it was an expensive endeavor.  The example at the top of this post is mine and is nearly as good as you're likely to find this globe. I'd be hard pressed to uncover a better example and in 6 years have not seen a nicer one enter the marketplace.  
     When Rand McNally made this globe they did so in conjunction with their chief cartographer William E. Johnston, who published the manual " Astronomy made Easy" a copy of which accompanied each of these globes when sold. 
Notice the globe's motif carried over
to the cover design
     I was lucky enough to find a copy of the original manual and add it to my globe to complete the set, the manual in this case is quite invaluable because it gives some basic instructions on how to actually use this celestial globe.  
     In this case with the aid of the horizon band, which lists coordinates for all of the major cities in North America you can position the celestial sphere on the right axis to give you a miniaturized view of the heavens above you, quite ingenious!

Here is the link to the patent granted Mr Johnson for this celestial globe: Celestial globe patent

      The decade of the 1930's is a fortunate time in globe making in that it is at the tail end of generally quality manufacture.  It would not be long, until cost cutting, and price pressure descended on the globe industry in the form of lesser quality materials and workmanship.
Elegant walnut base
     This globe still retains the use of fine materials, wood, metal, and plaster.  Adding in quality lithography and you've got a natural classic.  As the advertisement shows this globe was available in several styles, as this engraving from the handbook shows a walnut base was also offered.  I have a picture (with thanks to another collector)  of this globe in it's walnut turned base.  I think I actually like the walnut base a bit better...?  Hard to say both are exceptional.
     The very dark blue background of this globe is not a Rand McNally first, but you've got to admit it adds immeasurably to the sculptural beauty of this globe. Stunning in person! It should be noted that George Phillips of London manufactured a similar globe in the very first part of the 20th century about 25 years earlier. Weber Costello was also importing via Johnston in Edinburgh a similarly dark blue sphere also
     In the 1940's and even into the early 60's Rand McNally produced other celestial globes that, when examined were all descended from this original celestial mapping. These later globes often featured machine chrome mid century influenced bases, not to my liking but certainly appealing to many other collectors.
     So no in depth analysis would be complete without a peek into the creation of this globe, I have already included the original patent application filed by William E. Johnson, but who was this person, and what role did he play in this globe and others.  Mr Johnson was Chief of the cartographic department of Rand McNally. He toiled largely in obscurity but his fingerprints are all over so many things Rand McNally did in the 1920's and 30's.  He worked for the company for over 30 years. In 1931 this globe and it's accompanying booklet were reviewed in a trade publication here is that excerpt:  Astronomy Made easy, with accompanying globe  Mr Johnson like so many people behind great companies are oftentimes relegated to footnote status, I tried to find more about this man his output for Rand McNally was immense, credited with multiple patents, and listed as author in countless copyright entries.  Was Mr Johnson the Jonny Ive of Rand McNally.....??  Perhaps that is not such a bad comparison.  Certainly Mr Johnson deserves his moment of recondition.
      So lets get to brass tacks. Adding this globe to your collection will take patience and money.  I would expect today to spend around $1000 to own this globe in fine condition, add 10% if it had the original manual. All but one of the 4 models sold included the horizon band with cities and latitudes listed, the offset 1/2 meridian model lacking this feature in my mind is the least desirable both for it's aesthetic appearance and functionality. I would deduct 20% from baseline if considering the purchase of the 1/2 meridian model for this reason.
      Finding one is another matter, they do come around but they are infrequent.  The good news is generally the ones I've seen are in states of good preservation.  I believe we owe this to the fact that during the depression wealthy people could still afford these, and unlike terrestrial globes these did not out date after WW2.  Many of these celestial globes were set up high on shelves to be admired and therefore were not damaged.  I must also mention one thing about this globe.  Available only in one size that being an 8 inch model, it is perfectly sized to fit on a bookshelf, standing in at 14" tall, adding to it's desirability for sure.
     This globe was sold as a stand alone celestial sphere, a break with the traditions of the past.  It was always the case in the 18th and 1st half of the 19th century to sell a pair of globes one Terrestrial, and one celestial.  With the demands of the public school market came a break from this tradition and single globes were sold leading to the relative obscurity of the celestial globe especially in America from the 1850's onward.  Rand McNally did offer an 8 inch terrestrial mate for this celestial, I own my example as part of a pair I've posted about them a while ago.
     I hope you've enjoyed my analysis, I want to inspire collectors please drop me a line to chat or share your globe story, I'd love to hear. Of course if you've got an exceptional globe to sell especially a celestial globe like this one.....then please contact me!        Happy hunting.......



Monday, September 11, 2017

What is your goal as a collector.......?

     I feel strongly that everyone who collects should have a goal in mind.  I believe that a goal driven collection is stronger and more focused.  This goes for any collection sports cards, TV guides, and especially antique cartography.
     I've always said all globe collectors are map collectors but not all map collectors are globe collectors.   My focus as a collector has been to assemble a representative collection of American globe making from 1811 until about 1960 I believe it will take a collection of about 50 globes to properly achieve this,  if you're counting,  I'm at 25 right now as I write this.  Am I 1/2 way done? Mathematically yes, but realistically I'm probably 1/3 of the way there.  That's because some of what I own is not going to make the cut later on as I refine what those 50 final globes should be.
     I'm still missing several landmark American globes, A Wilson globe, of course is the most glaring example. However just as important are examples from Holbrook, and Schedler, also a geard tellurion from Laing, or Trippensee is a must to round out this collection.  Not to mention I have some gaps in political dates such as 1905-1919  I'm without a globe for this important transitional date.  If your reading this and have a great globe from 1910 drop me a line!
A great item, but a non core item
     So back to my original statement goals are important in building a collection.  I think a stated goal prevents us from buying marginal items, keeping us focused on what is important.  As many collectors ( me included) have limited resources to devote, we must keep non core purchases to a minimum.  For example
In my last post I showed 2 great relief maps produced at the turn of the 20th century. There were great items priced nicely. I left them behind........why.....?  Well they didn't fit my goal, they were certainly relatable on the margins but they were not close enough to my core to warrant purchase.
     These were used in schools, and they are maps but that's where the comparison stops, these would be great for a pure map collector, or a vintage school collector, not necessarily a globe collector.  Now this does not mean as a focused collector you should never stray.  I own some delightful maps but I own them for their singular appeal to me not as additions to my collection.
The only illuminated globe I need
mid 1940's Replogle
     I think after a few years collecting, learning as much as you possibly can about a subject you should start defining the boundaries of a collection.  For me that involved setting a timeline, 1811 is the start of commercial globe production in the United States, and 1960 is as far into the 20th century as I would possibly go , I just feel things become too common, and too generic after this point.   Other limits I've placed include type of globes.  For example from the 1930's until the 1960's illuminated globes were popular, I feel my collection is well served with one nice illuminated globe.  Now others will see that and say, hey I want ALL illuminated globes, great I say there's room for everybody. I'll stick with one.
     Another limiting factor I have involves tin globes, there were many great tin globes manufactured from 1925-1950 or so but I really only needed to have the one or two best representative of this sub genera of globes. I chose the J Chein late 1920's globe and the Denoyer Geppert 4 inch student globes. The rest in my mind fall towards toys and novelties. I tried to skew my selections towards educational intent.
1867 J Schedler globe 3"
     So whats left for me, well a whole world of artistic and scientific apparatus, here's a great example of a globe I hope to add at some point.  A Schedler 3 inch self contained globe. You see this little gem comes with a box that doubles as a mount for the globe, clever and rare.  This globe appeals to me at the core it's small, easily displayed, a bit of a novelty. I love it, the trick will be in finding it, they come around only every so often.
     Focusing as a collector allows me the justification to not buy something which as everybody knows is sometimes the hardest part.  When I was a new collector I suffered from that sinking feeling that " I better hurry up and grab everything for sale" there might not be another.  In 99% of the cases I have come to know that there is always another item waiting in the wings.  One of the best lessons I've come to learn is that the best decision is sometimes the decision not to buy something.  It goes against human nature a bit but it's benefits are immense.  I have a few regrets as a collector, but I think they balance very nicely with the land mines avoided by careful acquisition.

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!