Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shedding some light on illuminated globes

     There is a whole group of globes out there that until now I have not really talked about, that is illuminated globes. Part globe, part decorative lamp they are an interesting merger of two useful items that when merged seemed to make each a bit less useful. Today they are seen as beautiful sculpture, reminiscent of a different time.  
     Illuminated globes enjoyed a fairly brief but intense surge in popularity in the 1930's and 40's  this is a subset of globes that is intensely cross collected.  What do I mean by that? Well basically these globes are of interest to obviously globe collectors, also Art Deco collectors, period designers, and novelty lighting collectors.  All of these groups have an interest in these globes for one reason or another.
     Construction of these globes was materially intense, the orb itself a glass sphere, then map surface was applied, a sturdy base was necessary, then the addition of a safe lamp.  These were a premium product offered for sale by most of the American globe producers of the time, as well as some European makers as well.
1949 Crams Atlas globe
1949 Crams Atlas globe 
     This group of globes is a very good example of design trends influencing globe manufactures, most of these globes are intensely Art Deco stylized, reflecting the time period they were made. So let me show you a globe:  This is a 1949 Crams  "Atlas base" globe it is a 12 inch orb with a stylized Atlas figure supporting the world. This is an impressive piece as a globe, lamp, or deco object d'art.  The influence for this globe came from the famous Atlas sculpture in Rockefeller Center that debuted in 1937.
1949 Serpent globe
1949 Serpent globe

Crams did not stop with the Atlas globe, probably more desirable is it's Sea Serpent globe of the same time period.  This globe ups the ante when it comes to over the top deco style! It is fantastic, nautical collectors want this, globe collectors want this, of course deco collectors want this globe.... could I heap any more desire onto this object?.....Oh what the heck I want this globe!  Great color, and great design it is smaller than our Atlas and so does not have the room defining dominance but I think that's a good thing.  So as you can imagine both of these globes come at a premium to the collector, especially in excellent condition.
1939 Replogle Deco scroll globe
    I want to show another globe a bit different than the first two, a different company, a gentleman's lighted globe if you will.  1939 Replogle illuminated globe, featuring a deco inspired scrolled metal base, this is a handsome globe, I think it looks equally nice with the lamp on or off,  the gores are hand applied to a 12 inch glass orb, muted oceans, and great pinks, greens and purples make this globe stand out. Again it is reflective of it's time period, taking full advantage of Art deco trends.
     As I mentioned at the top of the page illuminated globes were not exclusive to America, but the vast majority you will encounter will be from the great Chicago globe makers.  When globe makers moved from the east coast to the mid west they were part of a much larger trend in America. from about 1890 to 1950 America's manufacturing might became concentrated in the middle of the country what we refer to as the "Rust belt" today, but it's easy to forget that places like Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, and of course Chicago were in many ways the silicon valleys of their time. These globes represent their place in time as deco era masterpieces, but they also represent America's industrial and creative might. I mean where else than 1930's Chicago could it have been done!
     This post really only scratches the surface with regard to illuminated globes, certainly worthy of a place in even the most discriminating collection. I have to thank Dee Wiemer, owner of Upstarts, for photos and background regarding illuminated globes.

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