Monday, November 24, 2014

A.H. Andrews Co. an in depth perspective

     A.H. Andrews globe maker?  Yes of course but that was a small part of this companies output.  A.H. Andrews was a school furniture powerhouse, desks, all manner of school supplies, auditorium seating, desks, both for students, and teachers, even church supplies. At their 1885 peak Andrews has offices in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia employing over 500 people (1)    Obviously on this blog I'll be concentrating on the globes and related apparatus, but it's important to realize that a lot of globe makers were also busy manufacturing a wide variety of semi- related items.
     Andrews absorbed the globe business of the Holbrook school apparatus company in about 1865. You see Andrews worked for Holbrook initially (2)  They kept the Holbrook name for awhile, and gradually added theirs to the cartouche over time.  Andrews made globes as small as 3 inches, and as large as 30 inches, with many sizes in between. They produced an extensive array of globes for both schools, and the home.  Entering bankruptcy in the 1890's their globe business was purchased by C. F. Weber, later becoming Weber Costello. (2)
     So Andrews produced globes for about 35 years, ending production 115 years ago, so they should not be too hard to find right?......Well wrong, the ephemeral quality of globes is easily demonstrated with Andrews. These globes in large part were produced, used by students, and families, then discarded. Having become outdated, or simply being damaged by a careless hand.
Andrews 8 inch globe
about $10.00 new
     An excellent example Andrews globe is very high on my list of globe that I want to add to my personal collection. Really nice examples are very hard to find. I've come close a few times but just didn't/ couldn't close a deal. At left I want to show an excellent example courtesy of a fellow collector. This particular example in my opinion is Art, a sculpture really. The  proportions are just right,  the color, and the materials used all add a sophistication to this model.  I've been looking for one just like this for a long time. Patience........ It will pay off eventually.
     Below I have assembled 4 photos from an 1881 A.H. Andrews catalog. These images are really fascinating, they show the extensive lineup of globes available from just this one manufacturer. Many of these shown on these old catalog pages are scarce, rare would not even do them justice, I have never seen an Andrews bracket mounted globe. What a spectacular find if you were to run across an intact example of one of those ( not to mention space saving to the collector!) . I fear that they were not hot sellers in 1881 due to their lack of portability and relative high cost. Few sold and fewer survive!  When looking at the catalog remember that these are prices in 1881.
Realize that in 1881 the average wage for a Carpenter was about $15 a week, a laborer $10 a week.

     Andrews mainstay products were as mentioned, desks, chairs, chalk boards, and the like. With that said it is easy to see that the same people working with wood and metal designing those items also had a hand in the design of Andrew's globes, they produced some of the most ornate and otherwise well done globe mountings in their time. This example I want to show below is courtesy of Omniterrum and is a very early Andrews globe made only 3 years after the Holbrook transition. It can be more completely viewed here: 1868 Andrews desk globe   This A. H. Andrews really shows what this company was capable of as far as artistically displaying a globe.
    Keeping in mind that in 1868 a $13 globe was an expensive endeavour, the individual who purchased this globe was fairly well off.  Most likely a member of an educated class, or a successful business person.  Just imagine seeing the complete world on your desk back then? What did those folks think about when they spun this sphere for the first time.    This globe manufactured in Chicago pre-dates our first transcontinental railroad by one year. Cross country travel via stagecoach was a 21 day agonizing affair!(3)  The world was a lot bigger than it is today, studying this globe had to be a mesmerizing experience for it's owner! 

1868 Andrews 8 inch globe
original retail price about $13.00
     Andrews competed with Joslin, Schedler, and others to produce globes, at the end of their existence they contended with Chicago upstart Rand McNally who's own globes came on the scene in the late 1880's. Was Andrews the first Chicago globe maker? I suspect that they were, but I  don't know for sure. Lets try and find out together, if anyone knows just comment below.  I want to show two more globes that really demonstrate what made Andrews stand out.  Below is an 1890 12 inch desk globe with full meridian ring. There are two pictures a full look at the globe as well as a close up view. This globe is impressive because of it's incredible artistic details as seen in the close up picture. Notice the extreme attention to detail, the multiple colors on the map as well as the detailed ocean currents. All of this adds up to an incredible presentation. Just a beautiful map surface.  Also worth mentioning is the claw foot casting of the stand it is beautifully detailed to match the globe. Do you like this globe as much as I do? Well follow this link to Murray Hudson's web site to see a dozen more pictures: 1890 Andrews 12 inch globe

1890 Andrews 12 inch globe

Close up 1890 Andrews, notice the
incredible map coloration

18 inch desk globe C. F. Weber
     Last but certainly not least I want to show you a globe produced at the end of  A.H. Andrews' existence, an 18 inch desk globe.  Now if you've ever seen an 18 inch floor globe you know that an 18 inch orb is big. Probably bigger than you would consider for a floor globe in your home. Don't worry this globe is not going on the floor it's going on your desk!  18 inch desk globes are rare, impractical except in very unique circumstances. They were made as the very largest "desk globes" available from multiple manufactures. Now where would one find such a globe?  In a large conference room, or on the desk of a lecture hall in a university setting, or perhaps in a large library reading room, or someday at my house ha ha...  Just as when Andrews absorbed Holbrook they kept the name for awhile, so did C. F. Weber when they bought out the globe making portion of A. H. Andrews Co.  The cartouche shows this transition, as it reads Andrews globe by C.F. Weber successor to A. H. Andrews.  
     This globe is exceptional for it's size as well as it's beautiful turned wood base, it's marriage of wood, paper, and brass is wonderful. Shown here with thanks to Murray Hudson the proud owner of this colossus, please follow this link to learn more:  18 inch C.F. Weber desk globe 1895

Andrews to Weber transitional

     Let me close with a few thoughts. Andrews as a company transitioned globe manufacture in this country from an east coast centered industry to one that from then on would be centered in Chicago.  Industrialization was happening. Westward expansion, and large immigrant populations were swelling our size, and the ranks of school age children.  A. H. Andrews went bankrupt in the 1890's and their various businesses were split apart and sold. Why did this happen?  I wish I knew, but C.F. Weber saw value in globes and other school supplies and carried this part of the business foreword. 
     At nearly the same time Joslin, with a 45 year history making globes ceases to exist, as well as Schedler. Both of these companies end globe production sometime in the 1890's.  Why?  lets find out together, chime in with some insight in the comments!  
     Finally someone reading this post is going to ask themselves Why did he write this? Why as a collector do I need to know any of this history? My answer is simple, how can you appreciate your collection without knowing it's history. Nerdy right...? Well you didn't get to the end of this article without being a bit nerdy yourself.....

 ***    A post like this does not get written without a lot of research, and a lot of help, I want to acknowledge, and say thank you to:  Omniterrum, Murray Hudson, An anonymous fellow collector, The American globe preservation society ( source 2) , as well as the encyclopedia of Chicago ( source 1)  And of course Wikipedia ( source3) ***

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Patience: A collectors best friend

     I want to talk about something that gets overlooked when building a collection, any collection, but especially one as narrowly focused as globes.  Patience, an essential ingredient to a collector, almost as important as knowledge but acquiring knowledge takes Patience as well so I might just argue that it is the most important tool in a collectors arsenal.
     In our culture we are at war with time, instant gratification is what we crave, everything yesterday would be our ideal.  Patience is a lost art but together with time it is a collectors best friend.
     So what do I mean? Well as a collector it should be your goal to amass the best examples of what you want to collect as possible, taking int account financial position of course. To do anything else would put you in the company of an accumulator, anybody with an eBay account can become an accumulator. We are not accumulators we use time and patients to elevate ourselves to the level of discriminating collector!   Sounds sophisticated. But a god collection is in some ways.
     So let me examine Patience as it relates to our hobby.  Patience is a wonderful equalizer, with time and knowledge a collector can amass just as grand a collection than a person with lots of money but not much time or knowledge.  OK if you had $2 million sitting around gathering dust you could, in short order have the best globe collection around, but what would you actually have?
     You would have little knowledge, or ability to appreciate what you have assembled.  Now contrast that with a methodical knowledgeable collector, for a fraction of that sum plus time you could amass a similar collection, and certainly a more appreciated collection. A collection who's sum is far greater than it's parts.
     I maintain an ever evolving list of globes I'm looking for, as I learn I add and sometimes subtract from this list, just as a good collector will add and sometimes subtract from a collection.  Patience plays a part in my collecting in two ways. Firstly it forces me to educate myself, with long periods of time between acquisitions, I take to the net, and to books to learn not just about globes, but about the overall antiques market that globes occupy.  Secondly, time allows me a chance to keep my not unlimited budget in balance.
     So how much time to build a collection?  I set out a few years back to add one great globe a year to my collection, some years I've added none, this year three globes came my way so far!  A slow pace to be sure, necessitated by my budget, as well as my fussiness as to what I will buy.  I offer this insight not  as a definitive guide because every set of circumstances will be different, there are multiple right ways to collect, all collectors are different.
8 years of acquisition, sometimes careful, sometimes not.

     As a collector there is nothing more satisfying than the hunt. However it takes a lot of discipline NOT to buy the first thing that comes your way, and as a collector starting out, I purchased a lot of marginal globes that are no longer part of my collection. I had no patience, and even less knowledge. Today I have learned from my mistakes ( sometimes that is ) to be honest I still make a lot of mistakes, I just don't blog about them.....  This is the kind of hobby that is 10% actual collecting, and 90% learning and if you love learning then it really is 100% fun.
     Earlier this year I obtained the globe on the far right in the picture above, an 1888 Gilman Joslin globe.  This globe is a great demonstration of patience paying off.  I started my quest for this globe about 4 years ago with an eBay auction, for auction was an exceptional example of Joslin's work, I bid strongly and came up short. That loss stung, and I began a search for this model.  This was a successful model for Joslin and comes up for sale with some regularity. I passed up probably 6 or more chances to buy this globe in that four year time period. It was dificult to do, but there was always somthing that was just not right, condition issues were common, sometimes price got in the way.  Patience was rewarded in the end and it taught me a lesson, waiting is OK.  I struggle with this from time to time even today.
     If you buy just one great piece each year, you are doing well. I think the one thing that most often frustrates a new collector is the infrequency with which great material becomes available. For every amazing globe there are a thousand more that are not so. I've never gone paning for gold but I imagime you sift a lot of sand for one nugget, and I'll guarantee you, find a few nuggets you'll be hooked!  


Sunday, November 16, 2014

1891 Rand McNally 3 inch globe........ waiting pays off

   In 1891 Rand McNally made a wonderful series of 3 inch desk globes, often referred to as paperweight globes, available in multiple base configurations, including a clear glass design that I am now showing here.
     I title this post "waiting pays off" because I've been stalking this model for a long time, I've watched as other globes came and went at auction, I've passed up examples of this globe with perfect orbs, and damaged bases, and I've walked past other examples with perfect bases but damaged orbs, all the while waiting for the perfect combination to come my way.  Well very recently the perfect example of Rand McNally's design was unearthed and I am the proud owner.
     Let's examine this tiny treasure, there's a lot going on in such a small package.  Firstly I want to draw attention to the overall design, with glass base this small globe was very ahead of it's time, a casual observer would not guess this design was almost 125 years old. Certainly a departure from the prevailing aesthetic of the time. Studying the photos below you will be able to see that although this globe is minuscule in size it has an incredibly detailed map, very accurate geography, even many major cities are listed on the continents. An actual globe in miniature, not a toy.  I would have to say as close to a "pocket globe" as any American manufacturer ever produced. Making a detailed map for a small sphere is in some ways harder than working with larger dimensions, and the detail Rand McNally applied to this little masterpiece speaks volumes about the quality of the work they were doing near the end of the 19th century.
3 inch globe shown with iPhone 5 for scale

A close up of the cartouche

This photo best shows the map detail

Lets talk about condition, this globe is exceptional in it's preservation, there is one small nick ( and I mean small)  in the Pacific, smaller than a pencil eraser. That's pretty much it, This globe still retains a glossy shellac finish, that has not darkened, or faded much over time.  As this was not a teaching aid, and meant to be a desk decoration ( my grandmother would have called it a tchotchke) it was not "in use" or handled all that much, obviously aiding in it's preservation.
     I mentioned earlier in this post that I had waited a long time to acquire this particular globe. In another post I really want to explore the element of time as it applies to building a collection.
     This globe is the smallest globe in my collection, and right now small is a good thing.  My wife is very forgiving of my hobby, and has already turned over two rooms to my passion. I am now struggling to find space to artfully display things. Desk globes of the 12 inch variety are large and soon one is forced to decide weather or not to add yet another to a collection especially if space is becoming a premium.  I should mention that in many cases a small globe is more expensive, and much harder to find than a larger globe. The vast majority of globes sold the past 150 years were the 12 inch variety, a nice study size, so finding and purchasing small globes can be daunting from a financial standpoint.
    Below, I want to share 2 really great pictures, courtesy of Murray Hudson. Both are examples of this globe, one with a wooden base, and one with a metal base. Just imagine for a moment walking into Marshall Field's on State street in Chicago, in 1892  and walking through the gift department, and seeing a holiday display with multiple variations of this globe for sale, probably for a dollar or less! Boxed and gift wrapped, what a great gift for anybody with the inclination to travel, or explore! And being manufactured just up the road as Rand McNally was a great Chicago globe maker.....magic.
Acanthus leaf base
wooden base

P.S.  I want to thank Mr Murray Hudson, a legend in the globe community! His store tucked away in Halls Tennessee is probably the largest gathering of globes for sale in North America. I have never had the pleasure of a visit, but it is on my bucket list!  I have however had the good fortune to exchange email correspondence with Mr Hudson, a passionate, and dedicated historian of the American globe if ever there was one. Please find a link to his website on my list.