Monday, September 22, 2014

The globe that put Rand McNally on the map

     Rand McNally one of the great Chicago globe makers did not start out making globes, they first made maps and they entered globe production in the 1880's. Here I want to show an example of their landmark 1891 globe. This is a 12 inch Terrestrial globe copyright 1891 right on the globe, North and South Dakota are divided, Austria- Hungarian Monarchy in Europe, Puerto Rico not labeled as U.S. this globe is important for Rand McNally's use of isothermal lines ( lines of equal temperature), that would become a standard after this globe. I own this globe with a metal schoolroom mount, but this globe was available in many configurations, wood base, metal, full mount, and others. It was a popular globe. Also manufactured in 6, 8, and 12 inch sizes, nice examples do become available from time to time. In fact if you are looking for a globe from the 1890's these are probably more affordable than many other globes of the time period from other makers.
Rand McNally 1891 isothermal globe
notice the copperized metal base

Close up of cartouche and isothermal lines
     This example sits in wonderful preservation, not perfect, it would be hard to find one in nicer shape, the base is noteworthy because of how much original finish remains, often this is worn and missing.  Notice the finial in the first two pictures, there is some space between the finial and globe, this is by design, every offset mount of this globe has that space.  I believe that this globe would have been a schoolroom model, probably also available in the regular market, but the metal base is rugged, more apt to handle the daily abuses of the school.  The orb is very nice, not perfect, there are imperfections of manufacture, some minor scuffs, and minor soiling, no dents, or cracks are present, and of course no missing map surface.  Overall a nice presentation, a simple globe that I often overlook when I am showing off my collection to a friend or family member, I am learning to appreciate this globe more as I learn more about it and the company that made it.
     This globe has been reproduced with the consent of Rand McNally by British globe makers Greaves and Thomas. I want to provide the link here: 1891 Isothermal globe reproduction   this site also goes into great detail regarding the world of 1891, and why this important globe was remade. I encourage you to click on the link and read, it's fascinating.
     This was not Rand McNally's first globe, but it was their first huge commercial success, this model and it's many variants set the path for decades to come of successful globe making. Rand McNally outlasted most other Chicago globe makers, although not producing globes the company remains in the map business today.
     In many ways this is a great companion piece to my 1892 Rand McNally 6 inch student globe, I could see in some luckier school houses a teacher with this model, and students sharing the smaller model at their desks as a lesson in geography was presented.
     I want to point out a contrast this globe has with another globe in my collection , I have a Joslin globe of similar vintage but these two globes could not be any more different, the Joslin in look and feel has much more in common with globes of 100 years earlier, the colors, mounting, and construction are similar. Now looking at this globe of 1891 it does not look dissimilar to globes produced in the 1930's. That's because this globe really shows a departure from how, and for whom globes were made. In a way globes from here on became more utilitarian, less ornate, function over form.  This also brought the price down dramatically opening up a much larger market for globes. This model would have sold for between $7.50 to $10.00  in the 1890's  much more affordable than Joslin's $25- $50.  Mass production, lower prices,  quicker shipping. Sound familiar? The same market forces that spell success or failure today were working 120 years ago.

As always lets discuss!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brimfield antiques part 2: shopping the show

     If you live in the northeastern US, 3 times a year the Brimfield antiques show takes over the antiques world, dealers, collectors, decorators all converge on a tiny Massachusetts hamlet for a week long multi venue event.  If you are familiar with Rennigers, or Brooklyn flea, or the Rose bowl flea market then you already have a feel for what Brimfield is.
     Antiques in New England are big business, bigger than in many other places of the country. Logically it's the oldest part of the country so there has historically been more "old stuff" here.  Shopping a show like this I have found takes a different set of skills than buying on the Internet as I alluded to in part one of my post. I discovered that I was not the best suited for shopping a fast paced show, by my third day I had learned to adjust my style to better suit a show environment.  Something that I worry about and you need to keep in the back of your mind, is that there are a certain number of "dealers" out there who misrepresent their wares, I think sometimes I'm so worried about these situations that I miss good things when they are presented. Knowledge is king when buying antiques in general, doubly important when you are in an environment like Brimfield, buyer beware is the rule. Mistakes were made, deals missed, and some great items found, all in all a great experience, not to be my last.
     I went to Brimfield with an open mind, but truthfully I had a mental list of things I wanted to find, on my list was a tellurian I figured at a show like this I'd see several that I could browse and buy, a thousand booths later ( not exaggerating) I found zero even offered for sale. Of course I also wanted globes, but they too proved elusive.  That's OK because what I've learned is that it's the unexpected items that make a trip to a show worthwhile.
7:30 am waiting for J+J to open at 8am

6:45 am  route 20 Brimfield MA
     Our days started early some fields open as early as 6am, we were up by 5am and parked by quarter to 7 each morning,  I was not one of those folks that stand in line looking for a score, I made a habit of strolling onto fields generally 20 minutes after they opened, no line, no fuss a good compromise I think.  We were there during the week, on weekends I'm told crowds are more, but since the show ends on Sunday deals might be better.  Again I opted to avoid the weekend and the crowds, although the crowds by mid day were nerve wracking enough, all part of the experience I guess. With such an early start I was exhausted by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Back to my hotel for a dip and a nap, ready to go again the next morning.
     Brimfield is broken up into about 20 different " fields" all independent of one another but loosely organized into one show week, some fields are better than others some more flea market, others more antiquey. My favorite field was May's they seemed to vet their dealers a bit better, I saw a lot of quality items on this field, another favorite was Heart of the Mart, again nice quality, less flea, more antiques on this field, I left several " should have bought" items on both of these fields. Pictured above the J+J field opens only Friday and Saturday I went opening day and to be honest was underwhelmed by the quality. This is surprising because they are often touted as the best field by other sources, but a lot depends on what you are looking for, I think.
     So with all this time, and effort invested did I score anything great, well yes, quite a few things, I actually had little room left in my vehicle and little cash left in my wallet, success I'd say. One item that I purchased for my collection I will share.   Here is a display case from about the 1880's that would have sat on a counter of a department or general store, it is 24 inches tall, 14 inches square, and glass on 4 sides, complete with original lock and key. I plan on using it to display my smallest globes, ornate, over the top, and best of all dust free!  What good is having a collection if it can't be artfully displayed.
1880's store display case
     I would love to see some great globe display ideas from you.  How do you live with your collection? What works best for you. Please share via email and I'd love to post some display ideas from others anonymously, and with permission of course.  I really need some great Ideas, as I have noticed that I am fast running out of display space............

As always please feel free to comment, criticize or discuss! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brimfield part one: On the hunt for globes

     For those who don't know the Brimfield antiques show is a tri-annual event held in the tiny hamlet of Brimfield MA  about an hour and a half west of Boston, and 3 hours from NYC. My wife and I spent four days on the hunt for globes and related materials, as well as other items that piqued our interest.  Not knowing what to expect I kept an open mind as I traversed the show over the days.
     Now would be a great time to admit that I am not very good at buying at antique shows. Why you ask? Well it's because of the Internet. Here's what I mean, I am used to sitting at my desktop, watching slow moving auctions, or viewing items on Fleaglass, or Ruby Lane then hitting Google to research past sales, study other examples of items, bounce questions off sellers, other dealers, and friends, over a period of sometimes days I decide to finally bid, make an offer, or purchase. Contrast that to a show, the advantage, the merchandise is right in front of you, allowing endless inspection, but a purchase decision must be made almost immediately. That's a problem for me because I'm an endless debater, he who hesitates is lost, truer words were never spoken.
     I want to start off by showing a globe I should have bought.  Here it is offered for sale by a dealer who sold a wide variety of antiques including some globes was this, an 8 inch Rand McNally globe on a more unusual base, this base was available as a bronzed finish or this verdigris finish. The orb was in nice shape, few if any losses, no dents or missing map, and both poles were undamaged. Price $250, but more on that later.
1932 Rand McNally 8 inch globe
     So why is this globe not in my collection right now? Because I could not make a decision, I was not familiar with the base, I called an expert who's advice was " just buy it"  did I I did not. Do I regret it now.......yes I do.  Here's the rub, the dealer knew next to nothing about globes, in fact it was mis dated as 1920, I had to date it for him, and explain what he had, he then offered it for $200.  I countered at $175......why did I do this, I don't know, he wouldn't budge and hence the first mistake I made at Brimfield.....not to be my last.  This globe haunted me all week, I saw this dealer two more times. I should have just bought the thing, Am I in love with this globe? No that probably held me back, I own a similar orb and the green base just doesn't do it for me, but I could have and should have passed it on to another collector who did want it, that was my mistake.
     Let me shift gears now and show a picture of a "globe dealer" I encountered, this man had 20-30 globes, and here's a picture. Now to his credit he had a tag on every globe, with the date, manufacturer, and price. His pricing was interesting, he had everything priced as if it were rare, hard to find, and in excellent condition, one example, the large floor globe to the right in the picture was being offered for $595, 16 inches and from the 1920's the problem?  it was in horrible shape, scratched and dented, as well as unsecured in it's stand, notice it listing to the right in the photo.  Many of the other offerings were common 1960's to 1980's items.

I want to share another globe I spotted, at a distance it looked promising, 16 inch Joslin table globe, bronze stylized base, full mount! This one was pressing all the right buttons. As I drew closer I saw that it was not in a condition that I was comfortable buying, the price reflected it's condition, and the dealer suggested it was not firm at $1750.  Correctly dated to the 1870's It was not a bad globe, just not right for me. Here is a picture, I have the contact info for this dealer if anyone reading this is interested.

Gilman Joslin 16 inch globe 1870's

I want to share one more picture of a dealer who's entire offering consisted of two globes, an 1890's Andrews 18 inch on an Empire stand, and an 1880's Schedler on a stylized iron stand.  Both globes were rare, but both had major condition issues the Andrews was missing map, and had darkened over time, the Schedler had a near perfect stand,and a VERY desirable stand at that! The orb however was darkened markedly, as well as showing some losses.  You know now that I think of it I don't think I've ever seen a Schedler globe in really nice shape, I'm sure they're out there but I have yet to run across one, and believe me I've been looking. I should mention the Andrews was prices at $6,500 and the Schedler was priced at $1,650. 
Andrews floor globe, Schedler table globe

Brimfield was a learning experience, coming up Brimfield part two. I will review the event itself, and offer some advice from my experience. I want to say that it was not a total bust I was able to purchase some really great items that I had not been able to find in the past.  So let's discuss, please feel free to email me or comment below! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

On the road: Brimfield Mass

     I'm sitting in my hotel room three days into a four day trip to Brimfield Massachusetts, to call this a huge antiques show would be an understatement.  This is one of the largest antiques shows in the country.  I came in search of globes  ( of course ). But also for an education in antiques, and in that Brimfield did not disappoint.  On the globe front I've seen quite a few and I'm going to post shortly a full blog entry on the state of the market for globes, and antiques in general.
     I've visited my fair share of  fairs, shows, and dealers but nothing like this, The Internet is still THE place to find and trade globes, but it is great to see how globes fit into the overall marketplace.
As collectors it's important to see this perspective.  Please stay tuned ..............