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.

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