Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Google Earth 1892: Rand McNally 6 inch student globe

1892 Rand McNally 6 inch globe
     So, how does an aspiring student learn geography 120 years ago?  Well with this trusty Rand McNally student globe of course.  This small wonder is a Rand McNally 6 inch student globe copyright 1892, it stands 12 inches high and is a simple yet elegant design, that was easily  mass produced for student use.  A 6 inch orb, is offset mounted on a simple fruit wood stand. The globe is of some sort of pasteboard or very thin plaster construct. It is very light and rotates freely for easy viewing.  The perfect small desk globe, it was retailed for approximately $1.50 to $3.00 depending on base selected, and size of orb ( also available as an 8 inch model) Contrast that with the Joslin globe earlier at $17 and we can see that this was an affordable way to give a student the benefit of a globe without the high cost. Realistically a family would probably buy one globe to share, also schools might have purchased these for classroom use.
     Obviously with low cost comes flimsier construction, this globe is a wonder in survival, not only did it survive a child, or several children using it, it also escaped the countless attic, basement and closet clean outs over it's long life.
     I've been on the hunt for globes for 7-8 years now and in that time this is one of only two I've seen for sale. I can't imagine many of these little gems have survived to today, it's just not the type of thing that would have. Thousands of these globes were sold over the years, Rand McNally also sold it's orb to others for re-branding such an example can be found at this link:  This example with a cast base was retailed by American Globe and School supply company, but it's the exact same orb as shown here, a common practice.
     Lets talk condition, this globe is far from perfect, defects include a darkening of the finish as well as some splitting at each pole, in addition to some general scuffs, and rubs. With all that in mind it's easily in as good a condition as I've ever seen this model. One will have to allow for a bit more  "evidence of use" with a student globe than a pure desk globe.  I don't want to paint too grim a picture, this globe shows very well, and is completely legible. It also has that authentic look that only age can impart.  All original nobody tried to "fix" anything, it's just right.  This globe is mellow and warm  a perfect display piece, much more than it's simple history!  A favorite...
     You know an antique is only original once, and the minute it's over cleaned, or over repaired, there's no going back, collectors almost always appreciate the original over a restored example.

UPDATE:  9/20/14:  I love researching, I love finding out more about these objects and the companies who made them. In Murray Hudson's database he shows an example of this globe at this link: Rand Mcnally's first school globe Interesting to note that this model is the first globe made for school/ students., an interesting tid bit. More importantly  his example is dated 1891 not 1892.  Big deal right........well yes I think it is. Here we learn something about Rand McNally, they ( at least for a short time) updated their copyright every year, so when dealing with an 1890's Rand McNally the copyright year is the year of manufacture.  This did not last too long by the early 1900's the copyright probably was not as accurate, and after that Rand McNally stopped dating their globes,  an un-dated globe is current longer than a dated globe.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer reading list

     My daughter came home a few days ago with a summer reading list from her teacher,  I was a bit surprised seeing as she's in Kindergarten!  I had a snack and a nap in Kindergarten, she's doing reading and math,  times they are a changin.
     Well she inspired this post, I have given myself a summer reading list also, I have found two wonderful books that I want to recommend.

1. The Map Theif  by Michael Blanding ( 2014)  This is a very interesting true crime story about a rare map dealer turned map thief Edward Forbes Smiley III  I'm already 2/3 of the way through this one and I can't wait to get back to it.  I actually found this book at my local library, my local library is progressive and extensive, they never disappoint!

2. Globes 400 years of exploration navigation and power  by Sylvia Sumira  ( 2014)  This book comes to me by recommendation of a friend and fellow globe collector. In Globes  the author takes us on a journey from the 15th through the 19th century to explore all facets of globe history, with unbelievable full color photography, I want to expand this review as I consume more of this book so look for an extensive review in a few weeks.  This book is available on Amazon  it probably won't be at your local library, but you will want it in yours.

     I'm always on the lookout for books about maps and globes,  if anybody has a favorite let me know it's hard to find printed material about globes especially, but we aim to change that of course.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Museo Galileo Florence Italy: wonderful virtual tour in english

     I want to share a link that I just discovered, it is the virtual tour page for the Museo Galileo in Florence.  This website is packed with high resolution photos, and videos of their collection, This museum has a vast array of 16th and 17th century scientific instruments including many exceptional globes all with beautiful high resolution pictures  rooms III and IV have the globes.  Check it out, you will be glad you did!

The link:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Shedding some light on sun protection

     Works on paper are fragile indeed, too much heat bad, too humid bad, too dry bad.... too much sun....really really bad!  Globes are works on paper and as such I think it's worth exploring the sun, and it's effects, to demonstrate this I'm going to use 2 globes from my collection as examples.
     First what is so bad about the sun?  Well the ink these globes were printed with especially red is very sensitive to fading from sun exposure, many antique globes in fact the VAST majority of antique globes have already suffered substantial fading from sun exposure probably when they were new.
I want to share an example of what I'm talking about:
     Below I have 4 pictures  both are Joslin globes only a few years apart in age, but what should be striking is the difference in coloring.  On the 1891 example you see a very typical coloring of muted reds and greens, these shades should look familiar to anyone studying globes from this time period, a mellow, warm surface. Not unattractive in the least. What a lot of people never realize is that the globe makers original intent was much bolder, much brighter, and more vivid. This other Joslin 1888 shows these bold colors the same bold colors that were at one time present on the other globe.

1891Joslin color fade
1888 Joslin colors intact

Muted Australia color
Strong Australia color
So what happened?  In simple terms, the sun happened, the 1888 Joslin was fortunate to spend it's early years, in a darker room than the 1891 example, or it was displayed for a far shorter period of time before being stored away.  Both of these globes probably spent 100 years in a closet to survive at all, but the 1888 Joslin just got to that dark closet a little earlier in it's life.  This is a fairly dramatic example of the power of the sun.  So as antiques sun protection is all that much more important, especially to preserve the sharp coloring still remaining.  
     I keep all of my globes in a fairly low light environment, and I have installed window film on all of the windows in the rooms that the globes reside, as well as blinds.  Is this all necessary? Well that depends on how serious a collector you plan on becoming. If owning a few globes that are in average condition, and displaying them as decor in your home is your goal then no you probably don't need this.  If you actively seek the best globes you can afford and decorate your home around your collection, then yes sun protection is necessary, the proof is in the pictures.
     I want to be clear that the vast majority of globes encountered from the 19th century have already witnessed the effects of the sun, and in fact the effect we observe today on such globes as the Joslin 1891 are not at all displeasing. On the contrary that particular globe and ones like it show muted color, and a soft hand of time that we have come to expect from these globes, it is only when we see what they started out as that we realize what the manufacturer intended.
     I want to share one more example of preservation you will encounter more frequently. Isothermal lines, those red and blue lines showing areas of equal temperature in summer and winter, were popular on many globes from the beginning of the 20th century onward. Sun fade to the ink in these lines especially the red lines is almost a given, but I want to show an example of a globe with the lines still intact. These lines are usually some of the first things to be lost to fading,  fantastic to see when they are present.
Both red and blue isothermal lines intact
     I hope I'm not sounding too preachy when I talk about sun damage  I just don't hear much of anything about it when I research globes, the techniques I'm employing come from the art world they have a handle on these issues, map collectors* also understand this, we globe collectors need this reminder.
     A final footnote, sun protection becomes even more important the further south you are ( or north for our Australian friends)  you've got your work cut out for you if your collecting globes in Key West!  Actually if you are collecting globes in Key West, please invite me down to see your collection this winter....... 

* Actually all globe collectors are map collectors, but not all map collectors are globe collectors!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Newly acquired 1888 Gilman Joslin 12 inch globe

   Today I want to share a really special globe.  I have been looking for this particular globe for a very long time. This is a 12 inch Joslin globe, dated geographically to  1888, it is an offset mounted globe with a brass half meridian, it stands just under 22 inches tall, and is mounted on a turned walnut stand.
     I first encountered this model Joslin globe about 4 or 5 years ago, in the context of an eBay auction, I bid strongly, and came up short on a near perfect example, regret ensued. I knew that I was starting a long term search for another chance to buy this globe in good condition.  I'll tell you this must have been a popular model for Gilman Joslin because these globes to seem to come up for sale fairly often, probably once a year I see one of these fresh to market.
     I've tried several other times to acquire this globe but always something got in my way.  Occasionally I search a website called Fleaglass it is a website devoted to selling antique scientific instruments, that includes globes, but they make up a small part of their inventory. Well there it was, described beautifully, and I bought it from a dealer in Brooklyn NY.  Serious collectors should add Fleaglass to their list of internet searches their inventory is higher end than most outlets, and it is one of the few places to find European globes.
     This now becomes the oldest globe in my collection, and it's now the 5th globe I own that dates pre 1900.  This globe comes from a time when there were only 38 stars on our flag, 1889 would see North and South Dakota, as well as Montana, and Washington become states.  This globe would have retailed for $17 in 1888 a substantial sum for the time! Travel was really on peoples mind in 1888 because this date marks the start of the golden age of rail travel, luxury trains, and competition would mark the start of this travel era, and this globe was produced during this great shrinking of our continent.
1888 Joslin globe

     Lets talk condition, the walnut base is in original finish, and is showing the patina of age, the meridian ring is graduated to 90 degrees, and I'm sure it's been polished at some point but it too has mellowed nicely.  Now to the orb, it sits in exceptional preservation, it has no dents, no cracks, and no missing map. Flaws include some spidering of the shellac, and some minor dirt accumulation especially on the northern hemisphere.  There is much less fading to this orb than the other Joslin globe in my collection, the reds, and greens are in particularly great shape.  This suggests that this globe, after becoming obsolete sat in a closet, or other dark even temperature storage for a long time.
Very vivid colors remain
 The fact that this globe survives in such nice condition puts a burden of responsibility on myself to keep it in great condition. This globe as well as any antique globe  is valuable because it IS recorded history, that history is locked into the map a perfect snapshot that should be protected for someone else to learn from and enjoy later.  I feel that I must mention storage and display, this globe, and the other Joslin globe I own demonstrate the damage sun can do to printed material. Protecting your globe from sun damage is critical, especially if you live in a southern or southwestern part of the country.  I'm going to do a compare and contrast post to show this effect up close. so stay tuned. As always I welcome all discussion, criticism, and conversation!  Email questions and conversation is always welcome too.

   A word about dating world globes,  American globes from this time period it seems were not as concerned about accuracy like we are today, if a political change happened in a far off region there seemed to be little desire to re engrave and re print globe gores,  if a political change happened close to home then yes it seems the expense would be incurred. So what we see from time to time is a lag of a year or two with respect to political accuracy, especially if the area held little American interest, an economics lesson from 1888!