Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Andrews celestial globe.......the stars aligned to find this one!

     I want to share something that, when I saw it I thought " wow I never figured that I'd find that."  A12 inch full mount A.H. Andrews celestial globe.
A.H. Andrews full mount celestial globe
     This find reminds me of exactly why I love this hobby so much.  A perfect blend of art and science, equal parts sculpture and scientific instrument.  Dare I say the definitive American celestial  globe.
     This globe stands an impressive 22 inches tall, and is a full mount on a substantial baluster turned base.  Metal fittings are all brass the plaster orb is covered with a blue, gold and black celestial gore showing star placement, and Greek constellations.  The Andrews cartouche is clearly an overlabel I suspect that the gore printing was handled in The U.K.  The horizon ring is an unusual 12 sided design a distinct feature of Andrews products from the latter 1/3d of the 19th century.   Andrews Is also distinctive for their wonderfully intricate turned bases, and the thoughtful use of substantial brass fittings.  The meridian ring is also of brass with degree graduations.  Jules Verne?  Steampunk?  Yeah maybe a little, but isn't that great!  A Chicago globe in it's highest form, beautiful.......
Unique 12 sided horizon ring
Close up cartouche

     Let's talk condition,  this Andrews celestial globe is in wonderful overall condition, the map is wonderfully intact, the wooden and brass fittings are all present and accounted for, even the 2 brass set screws that hold the horizon ring in place are present, these are often missing.  The brass is old and original, not brightly polished, nothing overly renewed just left alone.  The horizon ring is intact, and does show age and some foxing as is often the case when paper is mounted directly to wood; pictures seem to accentuate it. In person it is very unobtrusive nothing I would work to remove.  The 12 sided horizon ring even retains most of the red accent paint it originally had, but the guilt edging is mostly gone. There is evidence of some  repairs to the globe surface, and the shellac has certainly been redone, a professional job, and not at all unexpected in a globe of this vintage.  As a package, a wonderful example.
     The moment I found this globe for sale, I went to work researching others like it.  I reviewed past sales, and auction histories in online databases, as well as sales archives at the larger U.S. Auction houses, of course dealer archives were searched as well.  Why is any of this important?  Well as exhaustive as I was I could find few Andrews globe sales at all, and only one other celestial globe sold in the past decade.  That globe, sold in 2010 was in poor condition, but it's cartouche matched exactly. The mount was different, but consistent with Andrews offerings of the time period.  I found no further records of this model in terrestrial or celestial format, in my extensive search. Note this other example and matching cartouche in the two pictures immediately below. I have seen several 8 inch wooden base Andrews globes for sale over the years, but I have yet to see a 12 inch Andrews wooden base globe available until this one.

matching cartouche ( auction 2010)
Andrews celestial sold 2010

       The Andrews sales catalog from 1881 lists this model, with picture for the price of $25  please see the globe at the bottom left of the scan below.
      So what does any of this mean?  Well simply this is an uncommon globe, both terrestrial, and celestial examples are few and far between;  concerning celestial spheres from American globe manufactures, Murray Hudson writes that celestial globes are much less common, he puts the ratio of terrestrial to celestial spheres at over 100 to one!
     American globe manufactures, especially the fledgling Chicago globe makers, were concerned with volume sales, mass marketing was their goal. Factory production is only cost effective if you can move a lot of units. this meant 2 things. First a focus on school ( read high volume). Second it meant that the traditional European standard of a "set" of two globes went out the window.  So these manufactures never really sold globes as a set, they sold individual globes, celestial always offered as an option, but by volume a small part of the business.
     Warning.  Opinion ahead.......  Many U. S. Globe manufactures had their own terrestrial maps engraved, but for the comparatively low volume celestial business I'm betting they contracted out with an established manufacturer probably in the U. K.   I imagine at any given time at Andrews, as terrestrial globes dominated, they kept a few celestial spheres on hand for the odd order that came through.
     Something else to realize is that as we look at Andrews as a globe manufacturer, this was only a small part of their business, their main focus and the bulk of their sales came from school furnishings.
Globes for Andrews were like Apple TV, a relatively small niche product, still a great quality product but the phone ( or in this case school desks ). Paid the bills.
     So how old is this treasure of American ingenuity?  Answering that question took some long hours researching. What we know with strong certainty is that A.H. Andrews as a globe maker existed roughly from 1867 until 1896. Remember that previous to 1867 This company was Hollbrook, and after 1896 Andrews sold their globe division to C. F. Weber.    The Andrews catalog of 1881 states that celestial globes are newly available.  The cartouche of this globe is an over label probably of a Johnson celestial gore ( just a guess) , but it does not suggest C. F. Weber successors to Andrews as would have been the case post 1896.  So this globe was made some time between 1881 and 1896  narrowing the manufacture date further would take more research. Suffice it to say it was made during Andrews heyday period when they dominated Chicago globe making.
The globe on the left $25 in 1881
 Celestial advertised ( New )  1881

     I really enjoy sharing this globe with you, I just love hunting for these old relics of Americana.  Now all I have to do is track down the terrestrial...........


  1. Kyle, congrats on the Andrew's celestial find, I just noticed this at the top of the queue. It looks like it is in extraordinary condition! I just finished restoring a transitional Andrew's 12 inch terrestrial at the shop, in a very Steampunk nickel stand with a similar hexed horizon mount. Much rougher. I may ask you to disassemble the ring and have it shot from overhead by a photographer. The paper was glued straight to the wood and it usually burns and chips away badly. Cheers, Matt Jones. Green Dragon Bindery

    1. This celestial, was a "lucky find" if you will. It was listed on 1st dibs but was mis-attributed as a 1920's . I've never been exactly sure of the date but I know later Andrews/ CF Webers went to a more conventional round horizon ring. The condition is very nice, the globe has had restoration to the orb ( very hard to detect) before I bought it, but the horizon paper is about 99% contact me via email if you need a photo of the horizon.