Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The state of the market part 2 Bonhams History of Science auction 10-22-14

     I want to write about the state of the collector market with an in depth look at a recent auction. Specifically Bonhams History of Science; an auction consisting of a wide variety of scientific materials including about 40 lots of globes and related planetaria.  This auction took place Wednesday October 22nd 2014 in New York. This many globes in one auction is a rare event and the caliber of the offerings was quite good. The complete auction results are available at this link: Bonhams History of Science 
     I want to look in depth at about 7 lots that are really going to tell us a lot about the state of the collector market today please review the link for pictures, and further descriptions. Understand that I'm going to give my opinion I claim no official expertise!  So lets start our post mortem.....

1. Lot 12: A Teaching globe Holbrook & Co. 1850, this is a lovely 5 inch globe made from wood, and mounted on a turned stand, a lovely example of a very hard to find American globe, sold inclusive of buyers premium for $650.  This is a rare globe, very rare, and in the condition presented I think the price was on the low side. A great buy on a very early Holbrook piece

2. Lot 17: Spherical Educator globe, Holbrook, 1855.  This hinged globe was a very popular school globe manufactured by the Holbrook School Aparatus company this is the 3 inch version, also a 5 inch version was made, lots of these were made, few survive, as is evidenced by the $2000 result, a proper price, for this globe, to complete a collection of American globes one must obtain an example of this Holbrook design, it is too important not to. This 3 inch example was in nice shape considering it's history in the class room and early manufacture.

3.  Lot 22: J Schedlers terrestrial globe 1868, This lot gave us the chance to own a decent example of a Schedler globe, on a desirable cast iron acanthus leaf stand, condition wise the glove showed well, with age appropriate soil. Schedler globes are difficult to find in any condition and this globe brought $937 in my mind that seems correct.

4. Lot 23: Miniature Tabletop globe, Andrews, 1870.  This diminutive globe is a mere 3 inches in diameter, and mounted onto a beautiful turned wood stand, The smallest of Andrews globes this is a desirable globe!  I've never seen another, it suffered from a very darkened surface, still legible. Sold for $1,187 I'm tempted to say that it might have deserved to do better.  This globe checks all the boxes, as close to a pocket globe as any American globe could be. A great buy

5. Lot 27: Tabletop globe 6 inch Rand McNally, 1892. This is Rand McNally's 6 inch school globe, the same globe I own an example of  ( See my post Google earth 1892)  well this little gem sold for $1,000 and let me tell you as nice as this example is, this buyer overpaid, no way around it. Auction fever took hold. Why would this globe sell for 40% more than the much rarer Holbrook ( Lot 12 ) and almost as much as the Andrews ( Lot 23)  Only in a live sale room setting can a price disconnect like this take place.

6. Lot 31: Crams Tabletop globe, 1934: Readers, please click on the link above, and scroll down to see a picture of this globe.......I'll wait.............OK now this is a Crams globe from 1934, sold for $625 . Excuse me??? what planet are we on?  Is that dollars or Pesos, actually even if it were Pesos it would still be too much! A fool and their money are soon parted, and let me say whoever purchased this globe for this price, please call me I've got some other globes to sell you!! Now to be fair I did not read the description, did Marilyn Monroe own it? Was it on JFK's desk? Only then could I understand this.

7. Lot 42: Trippensee Planetarium, 1908: This is a nice example of a Trippensee Planetarium, an older example, no carring case, and condition looks good, and in working order, sold for a hefty $3,500 certainly at the very top of the market, that is almost a high retail number, again, a live auction will produce an anomaly like this.

8. Lot 43: Globe reference books, a lot of 20 or so globe related publications, sold for $375, reading a partial list of what was included, this was a very fair, bargain price, probably the buy of the auction, because some of these publications are very hard to find, GREAT BUY!!!

    Ok, Ok, lots of opinion shared, but hey it's my blog so I feel entitled to, ha ha  seriously, This auction was a very interesting look at American, and European globes, I did not discuss the British and German pocket globes that sold, but there were quite a few, and they are hard to find, and this auction had a dozen examples, WOW!
     I have to speculate that the bulk of these items came from one consignee, especially all of the early American globes, whoever assembled this collection did it with a connoisseurs eye, I'm sure it took a long time to do and It just goes to show that there have been people interested in this material and quietly collecting it for quite awhile, a delightful auction.
     Now for full disclosure, I was registered to bid by telephone on 3 lots,  numbers 12, 22, and 23  so why am I not the proud owner, of any of these globes?   Well life gets in the way sometimes, and I missed the auction, I regret missing Lot 12 the most, that Holbrook globe is as good as it gets when you talk about American globes, if the person who owns that globe reads this blog, enjoy your purchase you made a good one,  and please when you are ready to pass it to the next collector, contact me! I'll make you a fair offer!

Please feel free to comment, disagree, and discuss

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My globe collection has gone electric

Notice the Art deco influenced base
   Boy I just love cheesy titles, I can't help it.  I'm sharing a couple of photos of a really nice globe that I just had the pleasure of adding to my collection, it's a 1949 Replogle illuminated globe 10 inch diameter, with a great machine age deco base.  A near identical globe was featured in my recent post about illuminated globes. Is it as flashy as a Crams atlas globe? Or even the Crams sea serpent globe? No it is not but that's ok it's simple elegant and understated. It came to me from Omniterrum via eBay, a last minute decision to bid, and lucky for me I won the auction ( I'm always shocked when this happens because I bid on and loose far more globes than I win)
1949 Replogle illuminated globe

 The condition of this globe is excellent, the map is intact, with very few surface blemishes, the base, and half meridian are intact and blemish free. The electrical component is in great shape.  A good piece of advice have the electric checked out. I happen to have an electrician within easy reach, and it being a 60 plus year old appliance it should be looked at by someone who knows their stuff.  All in all a great globe for my collection, probably the only illuminated globe I'll buy. None the less these are important globes to have if one hopes to tell the complete tale of the American globe. As I might have mentioned in an earlier post these great globes were produced into the fifties, at the end they switched to plastic from glass to save money, you know when companies make moves like that it's soon lights out.  ( did I just write that...?)
      I'll tell you when that bulb burns out it's going to be a royal pain changing it, the procedure is tedious, and fraught with risk of damage to the globe itself. I'd imagine many of these globes met their death during the changing of the bulb!
     I know collectors that focus near exclusively on illuminated globes, and to them I want to say, now I get it. They have a warmth and charm all their own and they certainly reflect a moment in our history.
     You know something, the night I bought this globe, I also bought another globe on eBay, a 12 inch Weber Costello Peerles black ocean, that one is coming from Hawaii so I have a bit of a wait...... amazing how finding globes goes. I could go months or even a year without a purchase then all of a sudden things hit the market and great items are available. You just never know.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My long term goal as a collector of globes

     Collecting seems to be such a embedded behavior, what child does not have a collection of something. I remember as a child I collected many things stickers, fossils, and of course baseball cards, probably with some Garbage Pail kids thrown in for good measure!  Many a psychoanalysis has been done on why we collect. Are collectors neurotic, or filling a void?  Who knows....who cares, I think there are as many reasons to collect as there are collectors out there. I wonder if I still have those Garbage Pail kids?......
     So why am I collecting globes? What is the goal of my collection?  I've been giving this a lot of thought lately.  Do I want the biggest collection of globes, No. Do I want the best collection of globes? No.  Do I feel a need to preserve history? Yes.  But I think there is a lot more going on here.  What wonderful objects, these globes....... art really, the choice of color, materials, and design all lend a sculptural nature to globes.  Science, let's not forget the scientific aspect of these functional tools. Historic, ah yes from workmanship, to outdated political boundaries, to missing places. A delight, a reminder that our knowledge of Earth's geography is very new compared to how long we've inhabited it.  Is geography even taught in school anymore?  Come to think of it was it even a subject when I was in school?  I really don't recall geography as a stand alone subject. Social studies covered part of it, Earth science another part, and that was it, here is a great article on the subject: Transforming Geography in our schools but I digress....
     That does not answer my self asked question.....where am I going with these objects?
In my mind I want to assemble a representative sample of globe making from 1830 until 1950 from Wilson to Weber I'd like to call it.  I see a collection in 20 years of about 30 to 40 globes, and I'll probably never cross the 50 mark. I can't think of needing more than that to meet my goal, of course goals can change......
     I think that just owning globes is 1/2 the collection, also necessary, are catalogs, ads, and manuals for various globes, and companies. These ephemeral items put context to a collection. There were so many school supply houses and department stores that over labeled globes made by the big Chicago globe makers. It would be great to own ads and catalogues that feature globes. Sometimes this material is harder to find than the globes themselves, and that's really saying something.
     I want to take a moment and write a list of globes that I'm looking for to fill out my collection, I hesitate to do this at all because I don't want anyone to think that they need the same globes, the beauty of collecting is it's individual aspect. No two collectors are alike.  So here is a partial list of missing links.

  • A Wilson globe
  • A Hollbrook globe
  • An Andrews globe
  • A Schedler globe
  • A Trippensee planetarium
  • A Weber Costello Airplane base globe
  • An example of a lighted globe
  • A great Chicago globe from the teens
  • A globe not yet known to me...???
This is just a partial list of what I'm looking for, I'm open minded, and realistic I know that a list like this takes time, money and patients, it is also fairly generic as I'm not necessarily looking for specific models, but I do have favorites.
     Being patient is difficult, at least I find it difficult, I find that I work very hard to not add somthing to my collection that is marginal, all the while wondering if I'd made the right decision, but there are really no wrong decisions.  A book collector once told me " buy what you love, and buy the best you can afford" sage advice then, valuable advice now.
   I'm currently reading a charming book titled " Do not sell at Any Price" a look at those few collectors of 78 records, it seems, 78 collectors are a small subset of a larger record collecting culture. I can't help but draw a connection between globe collectors, and the larger group of map collectors out there. Are we more intense? more focused? Well in my opinion yes and no, we are no more intense, but our focus is probably greater, our collections are sometimes harder to build, we are limited by supply, and space much more than many map collectors.
     So what to do once my collection is filled in and I have a nice representative sample of globes?  I think it's important to share it with others who might have an interest, such as occurs with this blog, but on another level I think at some point what good is a collection like this if only I can enjoy it?  Questions for the future I guess.

P.S. A great quote I once herd " what's the difference between collecting and hoarding? Curation."