Saturday, December 23, 2017

Upgrading a collection, knowing when it's time to sell

     If you've collected anything for any length of time you've then probably sold something along the way as well.   10 years ago in my zeal for building my collection I bought some things that didn't fit later on.  I've talked about them before but now I want to talk about the process a bit more in depth.
     A pragmatic collector realizes that at certain times removing an item from ones collection is just as important as adding an item.  If we're not to become hoarders we must constantly evaluate the items in our collections with an eye towards improvement and with focus on our goal as long term collectors.  Let me demonstrate with some examples.

Example 1: Weber Costello 8 inch school globe, 1928

This is a great globe that I've had in my collection for many years.  It's representative of a classic 1920's classroom globe, and it's in very nice shape, but it's destined to be sold someday.  Why you ask......?  Well because someday I'm going to run across  a stunningly perfect example of this globe, they are not uncommon and surely that day will come.  When it does it's out with the old and in with the new.  I won't hold onto two examples of the same globe I call this the "upgrade sell" it is probably the most common reason an advancing collector sells anything.  

Example 2:  Crams 16 inch political floor globe, 1938 very first globe purchase.......a quality floor globe, in great shape.  I bought this globe when I knew nothing about globes its big, its nice and eventually it's going bye bye....  I'm generally a bit of a sentimentalist but I've got to be a pragmatist also.  I don't own a warehouse, and floor globes are big bulky furniture. I've got room for 1 maybe 2 exceptional floor globes, or a nice pair of floor globes ( ideally actually) so what's wrong with this pre war Cram's.....?  Nothing!  It's just one of those eventual sales that will take place as another "upgrade sell" .  Another collector will have a chance to love this globe as much as I do because I'll be busy loving a new floor model 1885 Andrews.... for example....!!    The upgrade sell...........

Example 3: H. Kiepert miniture globe 1896

 I like this globe, it's stunning in it's detail close up.  and the compass still works!  It's actually dated at 1896 in the cartouche, it's 120 plus years young, and earlier this year the circumstances were right for a sale.  Now this little gem is complicated. It's in marvelous shape, near pristine.  I decided to part with this one eventually because it just does not fit the narrative of my collection. I'm trying to build a collection that focuses on the history of American globe making, and this little guy is German.  Now the German history and additions to the art of globe manufacture are incredible,  they just don't fit my collection, this gem of a globe will be more happy in another collection. 

     Knowing what to buy, and knowing what to sell in a collection are equally important.   When your a new collector you focus on acquisition nearly 100%.  I've had globes before that just a few years earlier I figured I'd never part with.  Buying and holding everything.....well that's hoarding threes a DSM-5 code for hoarding now ( 300.3  BTW)   So I never want to be called a hoarder that's mental illness!!  ( OK tongue in cheek)  no seriously..... it is.   
     Anyhow setting goals, smart buying, education ( that's the big one)  and smart selling.  That's collection building 101,  that's connoisseurship.   That sounds so much better.   

Merry Christmas,  Happy Hanukkah,  Joyous Festivus ( Dec 23) ,  Lest we forget my favorite Boxing day!!    

Friday, December 8, 2017

The lure of estate sales........Knowledge is power

     I love estate sales, or as my Canadian neighbors say "content sales"!  There is something quite alluring about rummaging through a whole household that is there for the picking.  I probably attend 100 or so estate sales a year, usually plotting a route that takes  me to 3-5 sales on an early Friday morning ( it's always early and it's always Friday).  I go to the posh downtown dwellings and the off the grid family farms, and I've scored at both venues.
     I never find a globe at these sales,  good globes are needless in a haystack really.   Well that all changed this past Friday.   While casually glancing through the app I use to find these sales I saw a picture of a globe, it was old , a 12 inch table globe that had to be mid 19th century.  Below is the picture I saw.

This photo taken from the estate agent's post on
social media, the globe as bookend! 
     I knew it was something, what exactly I could not know for sure,  well 25 miles away I raced down the thruway to the "Delaware " district of Buffalo and their 100 year old mansions. This house didn't disappoint, almost 7000 square feet of 1890's gilded age splendor.  I ran in the door , 14 steps ahead of my lovely wife who was still parking the car ....... I was 5 minutes late.... just purchased.
     So what was it that I missed,  never shy I walked right into the corralled area sold merchandise is kept and discovered that my 5 minutes cost me a Smiths of London desk globe, and at a measly $250 what a steal that was for the lucky buyer.   Dejected I probably let some other great finds slip past as I smarted about my near miss.  Such is life.

Smith's globe for a mere $250.........

Smith's globe despite plaster cracks, otherwise intact 

    Despite this failure I I always persevere, later that day I found for just a couple of dollars a great guidebook to the 1901 Pan American exposition, complete with 2 fold out maps, certainly not a retirement piece but still a great little thing.  You should know that my house is full of estate finds large and small.  Here's a pic of my consolation prize:

     Now in the antique business estate sales are where the sausage is made so to speak. That Smiths globe purchased for $250 will most likely be sold on by the picker to a mid level dealer. As a fairly specialized item it might get another quick sale to a higher level dealer ( a 1st dibber )  that person will then contact Green Dragon bindery or another highly reputable restoration company and they will spend the $1000-$2000 it will take to make this globe perfect again,  after these investments. That high end dealer will offer it for sale in NYC, or Boston,  at a price probably approaching $5000.  So from found at $250 to high end object In  3 steps !
     Antiques move quite often from estate sale to dealer, to collector and back again, with smart people along the way who see value in items differently than the object's present circumstance.  Knowledge is currency in the estate market, and time along with exposure to these sales is the only way to accumulate this currency!   The hunt at it's best!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A conversation with Jake Moore of Omniterrum

     Recently I had a chance to "sit down" with Jake Moore who is the owner of Omniterrum,  I first came to know Jake through his other antiques business Cleveland Park Vintage .  I stumbled into this web shop several years back and was immediately "at home" with the merchandise and style Jake presented.  A bit over a year ago Jake took the reins of Omniterrum.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Omniterrum because they really set me on my current globe collecting path, and fully 20% of everything in my collection comes from the good folks at Omniterrum.  Below I encourage you to read and get to know Jake a bit better.

1.  Tell us about yourself?

History degree from U. Texas, Masters in Architecture from University of Oregon and I travel. A lot. I've just moved back to Austin, Texas after a decade-ish in Oregon, DC, and Poland.

2. What makes you passionate about antiques?

I got into antiques through my mom who is a collector. I am mainly drawn to a few things: a link to the past, design aesthetics, and the hunt. Once I find a great item, I'll happily spend hours with it trying to learn more about it and its past.

3.  What draws you to antique cartography, especially globes?

Globes were an early love of mine and I really think it makes total sense when you look at what my background is; they are the perfect combination of history, design, and travel! A great antique globe will show what the world looked like at a particular time - you can track Manifest Destiny, the World Wars, the colonization of Africa, the rise of trans-Atlantic steamships, radio towers, the Graf Zeppelin, the race to the Poles and so much more. But they all have a different look and some are simply more appealing than others. I personally like the cartography of 1920's French globes, and the industrial bases of many of the American globes from the 30s and 40s. But no matter what globe I'm looking at, they make me think about travel. My hometown, favorite places I've been, or the next big trip.
A sampling of Omniterrum's wares

4. How did you get involved with Omniterrum? 

I knew Kim from the Internet. I had bought a couple pieces and talked to her about a few others. I was living in DC and running an online store called where I sold globes and other vintage pieces. I made a point of traveling the 4 hours down to Lynchburg to visit the store in person. When she decided to go back to her former career, she reached out and asked if I'd be interested in taking over. I declined at first because I was in the process of moving to Poland and wasn't going to be able to give the project the appropriate attention. When I left DC, I sold off all my belongings (including my globes) and drove back to Texas for a few weeks. Kim asked one more time and I decided it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up! Its been a trying year and half with moving to Poland, spending several months traveling in the Balkans and Caucasus Regions and moving back to Texas, but I'm finally getting back on top of things and will be catching up with a ton of new listings over the next few months. And it wasn't all wasted in Europe, I found some amazing pieces and made some great contacts with shops and globe makers that I'm hoping to do some new projects with soon.

5.  I have always thought, that Americans and Europeans have quite different relationships with old things including antiques,  do you see that? 

Absolutely. For starters, what Americans consider "old" is very different than Europeans! We are a young country and as a result, we have relatively young items. For globes specifically, Europeans have tended to look at them as scientific instruments. We tend to see them as decor. That attitude plays a huge role in how we price/value them as well. I'd wager that the overwhelming majority of globe buyers in the States, just want a $25-50 globe that is "pretty." They won't care if its from the 80's or 60's or pre-WW2 or from the early 1800's. Because its "just decoration" the globe is valued like any other option for decorating your home. And this is totally fine - its how/why I started buying globes. In Europe, there tends to be a little more respect paid to the globe, and therefore, they tend to command more money.

6. Why does it seem so many millennials look past antiques?

I'm not so sure I see that. I think there are huge numbers of millennials that are collecting and buying vintage/antique pieces. The difference might just be in which categories are popular now. There's been a big push back toward learning trades, small batch products and craftsmanship - Quality goods, locally sourced, shop small etc. Another issue is that many people are choosing (or forced!) to live in smaller homes than in the past, and so large pieces of grandma's furniture simply wont work for them. Its an interesting topic for sure.

7. What is the state of the market for antique cartography, globes especially? 

I can't speak for high end maps, but the globe market seems to be going pretty strong at the moment. Pocket globes and miniatures are commanding high prices and are getting really hard to source. Good quality globes are always going to sell, unfortunately its getting harder to sort through all the junk. And prices haven risen pretty substantially for what I'd consider entry level globes. You have all these boutique shops selling globes as decor pieces and asking crazy high prices for average globes, often in poor condition.

8. What advice can you offer a collector just starting out?

Only buy what you love and can afford. Nicks and scuffs are fine, but I'd avoid buying anything with major damage unless its dirt cheap. I also think its important to know why you're buying. It makes it easier to focus in on the right pieces for you.

9. What advice can you offer a long time collector? 

I'd say basically the same thing to them as well. Buy what you love and know why you're buying. Tastes, disposable income, shelf space, family circumstances all change over time and its perfectly natural to want to thin the collection, or adjust the focus, or to raise the quality of the pieces.

A Holbrook 3 inch hinged school globe Jake recently sold

10. What is your holy grail item? 

I have a few globes that I'm always looking for but I don't know if I have a "holy grail" per se. The Rand McNally Air Globe is the globe that I most want for my personal collection (which is pretty small actually), but I'm also fairly obsessed with a tectonic globe that was made in East Germany. These are relatively expensive but still manageable... but if we are talking unlimited budget, then its pocket globes all day long!

11. Touch on something I have not asked that you think is important? 
example of cleaning

Hmm... I could talk for hours about globes... One of the things that I have been getting into over the last couple of years is maintenance and repairing old globes. Restoration is way out of my league, but thorough cleaning, preventive care, and simple repairs or rewiring can really make a huge difference in your enjoyment of the globe. They can also add a ton of value back into the globe. I'll include a few before and after cleaning photos. I plan on officially announcing this service in the near future, but if anyone needs globes cleaned in the mean time please feel free to contact me at

Jake Moore

*** Special note Omniterrum via their Etsy shop is offering a 15% off sale going on now just follow this link:   Omniterrum globes Etsy sale 15% off

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Gilman Joslin 1860 six inch globe..........holding history

     I can't think of a more unsettled time in American history than 1860. America is on the verge of civil war, and in November 1860 we elect arguably the greatest man to ever hold the office of President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.  There are 33 states in our fragile union in 1860, some slave owning some free.  An active and many said inevitable Secession crisis grips our land. This small globe was issued in Boston by Gilman Joslin on the verge of a chaos this nation had never seen,  if that's not holding history in your hand then I don't know what is!   Lets take a look:

Joslin's six inch globe 1860
      This globe is a great example of the work being done by the Gilman Joslin firm in the mid 1800's.  Classic Joslin, turned wood base, tan oceans, brass meridian.   The geography is simplified, countries are denoted in separate colors but no state boundaries exist, major cities of the time are labeled. Much of Africa is empty and labeled as unexplored.  Alaska is " Russian America" that won't change for a few more years.  This globe is issued just before the American civil war.  There would be a period of time where resources were diverted and globe production stagnated just after this globe was issued. Follow this link to another example of this globe from the David Rumsey collection  This example has a more ornate stand suggestive of a collaboration with Merrium & Moore.
     The 1855-1868 period is an interesting time in the history of American globe making. Wilson, and Cyrus Lancaster are gone, Merrium & Moore and Joslin are the two globe powerhouses, (they probably share engraving/ gore production) With this in some ways being Joslin's most dominant time.  Almost all globes made in the USA during this time period that surface today are from either of these two firms, Holbrook and Charles Copley are distant number 3, and 4.   It would not be until 1868 that Schedler, and shortly Andrews come on the scene and start to take the globe market from Joslin and Moore. 

  This globe has an interesting feature that I'll address right away. It's mounted at what appears to be an odd angle....  Most globes we are used to looking at are mounted straight on, or tilted 23.5 degrees.  This one seems to break those rules. It's tilted to about 45 degrees.  Now when I first saw a globe mounted like that I'll be honest I figured it was a one off custom alteration. Then as time passed and I studied more I started seeing smaller globes of a certain time period, both English and American were often mounted in this fashion.  It was weird at first but in one way it is quite logical.  On a small globe like this it's much easier to see the geography if the orb is presented in such a manner.  Think about it for a second. this globe has a stationary meridian, so it only makes sense to tilt the globe so that it can all be observed on a desk or in a classroom without having to resort to turning the whole apparatus upside down.  At least now the globe can remain upright and sturdy but the student can still see south America and Australia.  Logical once you think about it.
     Notice too that in the base long ago someone drilled two holes, I'm sure that was an enterprising parent securing this little globe to a desk so as not to have junior knock it over and shatter it, remember in 1860 even this small globe was a rather expensive item to purchase.  Does that detract from the globe.....?   Some will say yes, many including myself will say no.  My reasoning is simple.  Those battle scars put this small globe in context, it was utilitarian, it was in the hands of a child, and it was expensive. Why not try and protect it from breakage? It speaks to the authenticity of the piece, brings it to life in my opinion. Besides the star of this show is the well preserved mapping. The orb itself sits in such amazing preservation, colors are still even, crisp, and well defined, the orb stands out as an exceptional example.  I should note the way I did these pictures is a bit deceiving. This globe is rather small standing just 9.5 inches tall and with a 6 inch orb it is a diminutive package!
A globe with a date stamped on it
can get out-dated pretty quickly
     If you collect American globes there are a few touchstone dates that are important to you.  One of those big dates is 1867, that is the year Alaska was purchased from Russia.  Globes from 1868 onwards show Alaska as part of the United States, those before show a huge Russian territory called Russian America.  Globe collectors often use these big map change periods to discern value to a point.  For example a globe from 1860 is much more desirable because of the changed political geography than one from 1868 showing a map that more closely resembles the present day.   Much like the 1889 pre and post Dakota split is also used to assign value, and guarantee age so to speak.   It's always amazing how quite recently our world was very different, Russian Alaska, nearly non existent antarctic, Europe dominated by empires, an empty Africa waiting to be explored!  These were all changes in the 19th century,  astounding if you step back for a second......

1855 Ide and Dutton school catalog
     This is one in a long line of 6 inch school centric globes made by Gilman Joslin, at left I have a screen shot of an 1855 catalog entry for the Joslin 6 and 10 inch globes. Quite a bargain being sold as a pair for $5.00 ($138 today)......I wonder where all those paired up celestial spheres are.........?   The search will continue......

     I am firstly a lover of history, as Americans ours is a short and tumultuous one, we've had growing pains as a country. When I hold a globe such as this one made in Boston, and dated 1860. I can't help but think about what was America like back then?  When as a nation we were barely 90 years old.  When this globe was made there were still people alive who were born in Boston as British subjects, they became Americans through revolution.........if that's not history in your hand.........

A trio of Joslin 6 inch globes 1846, 1860, 1885


Sunday, October 1, 2017

4 levels of globe collector, a working theory

     Sometimes I look at old auction catalogs, or  I drift over to 1st dibs to check out the inventory ( hey lightning struck once). So I read listings and see ads for globes that are sometimes priced up to and past $100,000.  Yikes that's a lot of money.  Well it's a lot of money to almost anybody.  It got me thinking just like you can buy a nice used car for probably $10k. You can also buy an Italian super car for $750k. They both have 4 wheels and will both get from a to b but  other than that there are vast differences between the two.  Just as in this hobby there are many similarities and many differences between that $100 eBay globe and Grahm Arader's $100000 globe.
     So what type of collector are you, what type of collector am I ?   Globe collecting is somewhat unique in that there is space for everybody.  I've met collectors through this blog that collect only globe banks, they have 40 or 50 different tin globe banks, some were $1 flea market finds, some were mint in box antiques for over $100  I've also crossed paths with some collectors that might actually take a serious look at a globe priced well into 5 figures if not approaching 6 .  They are two opposite ends of the collector spectrum, each collector happy and passionate in their own niche.
     I love to analyze and over think things, it's my other hobby  ha ha ha   so I wanted to over analyze those of us who are passionate about globes I have for this exercise divided us into 4 levels of collecting.  I will make mention that these levels are largely based on dollars spent on globes but also I want to include an X factor I'll label passion, or commitment.  You will see as we go on.

Level 1
Level 1
Level 1 collectors:  We all start out here even those who will eventually ascend to level 4 must start at level one the Novice,  When you buy your first globe, heck your first 3 globes you are level one.  Perhaps they are cool to look at, or look great on a shelf these purchases might not even be old, they just seemed great, and they look great.  Maybe you've always been interested in geography or politics, history or science and owning a globe or 2 or more seems great.   You are open to another globe purchase but you are not necessarily hunting for them.  You are price conscious, this isn't quite a hobby yet.  Spending anything past $100 or so seems absurd.  I actually broke this rule out of the gate I paid $325 for my first globe, a near mint Crams 16 inch floor globe from 1938  I saw it in an antiques store, and I kept coming back to it. I was drawn like a moth to a flame.  If you buy your first globe as I did for " real money"  it still makes you a novice, just a bit poorer novice....HA . Here are a couple examples of what I'd refer to as level 1 globes.

Level 2 collectors:  Things are getting interesting, you like how the globes look in your home, maybe you love studying the old geography, depending on the age of the globes you already own you want to know about who made these items, you actively try to learn about the globes already in your collection, and you are actively trying to learn about globes you don't own.  You see to me globe collecting is about learning, people who love learning, and who especially love history I think are naturally drawn to this hobby an old globe as an object of history is unrivaled it is quite literally history in 3D.   Unless you happen to own the wooden dentures or a stovepipe hat with a hole in it there is no better way to bring history front and center than an old globe.  People of all stripes are drawn to the Art and science that an old globe embodies.
Level 2
Level 2
     A level 2 collector wants to own history, they want to study an object for it's scientific and historical value , and they are willing to pay for the privilege.   In my mind a Level 2 collector will pay up for a nice globe in their price range they actively seek nice globes and they are starting to know what they are looking for. Here I'll show a couple of level 2 globes, again my opinion:

Level 3
Level 3 collectors are very serious collectors, at this level of interest the collector wants to own history. Yes absolutely. At this level a collector is interested in acquiring the best examples of what they collect that are available.  A level 3 collector will devote time and resources to their collecting. They may even work their collecting hobby into their existing budget.  Quality over quantity reigns supreme. The collector wants to learn everything about the globe, the globe maker, even going as far as studying archives, finding obscure source material etc.  This collector evaluates each new purchase from an aesthetic side, and from an understanding of history and geography.  A level 3 collector will inevitably start to specialize their collection weather that be a time period, a style, or a certain manufacturer.  This level of collector will certainly spend up for a great item.  They will find a way they will make things work.  Here are in my opinion a few examples of Level 3 globes.  I probably put myself in the category of a level 3 collector, I may never venture any higher.
Level 3  full mount Joslin

Level 4, Wilson
Level 4, Andrews
in original case
Level 4 collectors are In my opinion essentially level 3 collectors who are perhaps older, wiser, they are now collecting and upgrading their collection with a goal in mind. A level 4 collector is looking towards a future for their collection, they are realists. You can't take it with you.  A level 4 collector is seriously thinking about leaving their collection intact with a library, or museum.  They might wish to sell it en block to keep it intact. This level of collector is focused on making their passion available to others that might want to learn from them.  When a level 4 collector adds to his or her collection it is usually after great thought they are at a point where filling in the last reaming blank spaces of their collection is becoming harder, perhaps they are becoming more focused,  shifting focus or clarifying themselves.  Cost at this point is secondary to completeness, or acquiring that one exceptional piece. Globes at this level are all rare.  Most American globes pre 1835 are at this level.  Obscure short lived globe makers also qualify, such as Silas Cornell, or Pendleton. Condition reigns supreme, a level 4 collector wants rare items in fine condition, professional restoration and conservation are expected.  I in truth can't claim to own any globes that I could label level 4.  Globes in this category are rare birds indeed, here are a couple from other collections.

    Many people never venture past a level 1 or 2 in anything they collect, remember all those baseball cards, or garbage pail kids?  Seriously globes, as a sub set of map collecting are a niche within a niche we are a small group.  I've always thought that there are a few thousand globe collectors, a few hundred that are serious, and a few of those with a complete passion for it. I've always thought that globe collecting is a persuit that rewards knowledge far more than other collecting fields. Knowledge is a form of currency. Someone with patience and knowledge can amass an exceptional globe collection. The same can't be said of many other areas of collecting.
     So earlier I rated myself a level 3,  but I'm still a buyer at level 1, and 2 ,  I believe there are special globes at every price level.  You just have to go hunting with the knowledge of what it is you are looking for.........

***thanks to Vintage cals, Dee Wiemer,  Ben Z, and Murray Hudson, for use of some of the photos in this post***

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rand McNally Celestial globe and star finder, an in depth examination

     In 1930 Rand McNally launched a line of globes that were a departure from anything they had offered before.  The celestial globe and star finder is a unique globe both for it's aesthetics as well as it's positioning and timing in the marketplace.  I have posted about this particular globe before but now I want to go in depth, the definitive post if you will. So here's the globe we're talking about:
8 inch celestial globe and star finder, 1930

     This globe was a departure for Rand McNally because up until this point they had not manufactured a celestial globe.  Rand McNally entered the globe market in the late 1880's when selling to schools was where all the money was, and schools just didn't buy celestial globes.  Rand McNally caught up in a big way with arguably one of the most beautiful celestial globes to ever come from an American manufacturer.
original catalog ad.
     The celestial globe and star finder, was offered in one size only that being as an 8 inch globe, but it could be ordered in 4 different mounting styles, this next picture shows the original Rand McNally catalog page with the ad for the celestial globe.  This globe was sold in the early 1930's for between $9.60 and $24.00 .  These were expensive pieces to own especially considering the depths of the depression.  Suffice it to say that Rand McNally didn't sell these globes in huge numbers like their terrestrial counterparts. Thus they are so much harder to find now.  I purchased my example in 2011 via eBay and it was an expensive endeavor.  The example at the top of this post is mine and is nearly as good as you're likely to find this globe. I'd be hard pressed to uncover a better example and in 6 years have not seen a nicer one enter the marketplace.  
     When Rand McNally made this globe they did so in conjunction with their chief cartographer William E. Johnston, who published the manual " Astronomy made Easy" a copy of which accompanied each of these globes when sold. 
Notice the globe's motif carried over
to the cover design
     I was lucky enough to find a copy of the original manual and add it to my globe to complete the set, the manual in this case is quite invaluable because it gives some basic instructions on how to actually use this celestial globe.  
     In this case with the aid of the horizon band, which lists coordinates for all of the major cities in North America you can position the celestial sphere on the right axis to give you a miniaturized view of the heavens above you, quite ingenious!

Here is the link to the patent granted Mr Johnson for this celestial globe: Celestial globe patent

      The decade of the 1930's is a fortunate time in globe making in that it is at the tail end of generally quality manufacture.  It would not be long, until cost cutting, and price pressure descended on the globe industry in the form of lesser quality materials and workmanship.
Elegant walnut base
     This globe still retains the use of fine materials, wood, metal, and plaster.  Adding in quality lithography and you've got a natural classic.  As the advertisement shows this globe was available in several styles, as this engraving from the handbook shows a walnut base was also offered.  I have a picture (with thanks to another collector)  of this globe in it's walnut turned base.  I think I actually like the walnut base a bit better...?  Hard to say both are exceptional.
     The very dark blue background of this globe is not a Rand McNally first, but you've got to admit it adds immeasurably to the sculptural beauty of this globe. Stunning in person! It should be noted that George Phillips of London manufactured a similar globe in the very first part of the 20th century about 25 years earlier. Weber Costello was also importing via Johnston in Edinburgh a similarly dark blue sphere also
     In the 1940's and even into the early 60's Rand McNally produced other celestial globes that, when examined were all descended from this original celestial mapping. These later globes often featured machine chrome mid century influenced bases, not to my liking but certainly appealing to many other collectors.
     So no in depth analysis would be complete without a peek into the creation of this globe, I have already included the original patent application filed by William E. Johnson, but who was this person, and what role did he play in this globe and others.  Mr Johnson was Chief of the cartographic department of Rand McNally. He toiled largely in obscurity but his fingerprints are all over so many things Rand McNally did in the 1920's and 30's.  He worked for the company for over 30 years. In 1931 this globe and it's accompanying booklet were reviewed in a trade publication here is that excerpt:  Astronomy Made easy, with accompanying globe  Mr Johnson like so many people behind great companies are oftentimes relegated to footnote status, I tried to find more about this man his output for Rand McNally was immense, credited with multiple patents, and listed as author in countless copyright entries.  Was Mr Johnson the Jonny Ive of Rand McNally.....??  Perhaps that is not such a bad comparison.  Certainly Mr Johnson deserves his moment of recondition.
      So lets get to brass tacks. Adding this globe to your collection will take patience and money.  I would expect today to spend around $1000 to own this globe in fine condition, add 10% if it had the original manual. All but one of the 4 models sold included the horizon band with cities and latitudes listed, the offset 1/2 meridian model lacking this feature in my mind is the least desirable both for it's aesthetic appearance and functionality. I would deduct 20% from baseline if considering the purchase of the 1/2 meridian model for this reason.
      Finding one is another matter, they do come around but they are infrequent.  The good news is generally the ones I've seen are in states of good preservation.  I believe we owe this to the fact that during the depression wealthy people could still afford these, and unlike terrestrial globes these did not out date after WW2.  Many of these celestial globes were set up high on shelves to be admired and therefore were not damaged.  I must also mention one thing about this globe.  Available only in one size that being an 8 inch model, it is perfectly sized to fit on a bookshelf, standing in at 14" tall, adding to it's desirability for sure.
     This globe was sold as a stand alone celestial sphere, a break with the traditions of the past.  It was always the case in the 18th and 1st half of the 19th century to sell a pair of globes one Terrestrial, and one celestial.  With the demands of the public school market came a break from this tradition and single globes were sold leading to the relative obscurity of the celestial globe especially in America from the 1850's onward.  Rand McNally did offer an 8 inch terrestrial mate for this celestial, I own my example as part of a pair I've posted about them a while ago.
     I hope you've enjoyed my analysis, I want to inspire collectors please drop me a line to chat or share your globe story, I'd love to hear. Of course if you've got an exceptional globe to sell especially a celestial globe like this one.....then please contact me!        Happy hunting.......



Monday, September 11, 2017

What is your goal as a collector.......?

     I feel strongly that everyone who collects should have a goal in mind.  I believe that a goal driven collection is stronger and more focused.  This goes for any collection sports cards, TV guides, and especially antique cartography.
     I've always said all globe collectors are map collectors but not all map collectors are globe collectors.   My focus as a collector has been to assemble a representative collection of American globe making from 1811 until about 1960 I believe it will take a collection of about 50 globes to properly achieve this,  if you're counting,  I'm at 25 right now as I write this.  Am I 1/2 way done? Mathematically yes, but realistically I'm probably 1/3 of the way there.  That's because some of what I own is not going to make the cut later on as I refine what those 50 final globes should be.
     I'm still missing several landmark American globes, A Wilson globe, of course is the most glaring example. However just as important are examples from Holbrook, and Schedler, also a geard tellurion from Laing, or Trippensee is a must to round out this collection.  Not to mention I have some gaps in political dates such as 1905-1919  I'm without a globe for this important transitional date.  If your reading this and have a great globe from 1910 drop me a line!
A great item, but a non core item
     So back to my original statement goals are important in building a collection.  I think a stated goal prevents us from buying marginal items, keeping us focused on what is important.  As many collectors ( me included) have limited resources to devote, we must keep non core purchases to a minimum.  For example
In my last post I showed 2 great relief maps produced at the turn of the 20th century. There were great items priced nicely. I left them behind........why.....?  Well they didn't fit my goal, they were certainly relatable on the margins but they were not close enough to my core to warrant purchase.
     These were used in schools, and they are maps but that's where the comparison stops, these would be great for a pure map collector, or a vintage school collector, not necessarily a globe collector.  Now this does not mean as a focused collector you should never stray.  I own some delightful maps but I own them for their singular appeal to me not as additions to my collection.
The only illuminated globe I need
mid 1940's Replogle
     I think after a few years collecting, learning as much as you possibly can about a subject you should start defining the boundaries of a collection.  For me that involved setting a timeline, 1811 is the start of commercial globe production in the United States, and 1960 is as far into the 20th century as I would possibly go , I just feel things become too common, and too generic after this point.   Other limits I've placed include type of globes.  For example from the 1930's until the 1960's illuminated globes were popular, I feel my collection is well served with one nice illuminated globe.  Now others will see that and say, hey I want ALL illuminated globes, great I say there's room for everybody. I'll stick with one.
     Another limiting factor I have involves tin globes, there were many great tin globes manufactured from 1925-1950 or so but I really only needed to have the one or two best representative of this sub genera of globes. I chose the J Chein late 1920's globe and the Denoyer Geppert 4 inch student globes. The rest in my mind fall towards toys and novelties. I tried to skew my selections towards educational intent.
1867 J Schedler globe 3"
     So whats left for me, well a whole world of artistic and scientific apparatus, here's a great example of a globe I hope to add at some point.  A Schedler 3 inch self contained globe. You see this little gem comes with a box that doubles as a mount for the globe, clever and rare.  This globe appeals to me at the core it's small, easily displayed, a bit of a novelty. I love it, the trick will be in finding it, they come around only every so often.
     Focusing as a collector allows me the justification to not buy something which as everybody knows is sometimes the hardest part.  When I was a new collector I suffered from that sinking feeling that " I better hurry up and grab everything for sale" there might not be another.  In 99% of the cases I have come to know that there is always another item waiting in the wings.  One of the best lessons I've come to learn is that the best decision is sometimes the decision not to buy something.  It goes against human nature a bit but it's benefits are immense.  I have a few regrets as a collector, but I think they balance very nicely with the land mines avoided by careful acquisition.

Monday, August 14, 2017

How to waste money at the Antiques mall

     I want to start this post with a confession of bias,  I am not a fan of the Antiques mega mall, you know those places that are huge warehouses turned multi dealer extravaganza.   These places in many cases are where sub standard merchandise goes to die.   I don't know why I keep going to these places, but inevitably when I'm in a new area I seek out these mega malls and then set out to spend 3 hours cruising the aisles.
     In this Internet age when so many traditional mom and pop antiques businesses have gone away it seems that with exceptions, malls, and very high end stand alone dealers are all that is left, gone are the days of the mid range generalist dealer, specialize, move up market or move into a mall.  If you want to sell in a live setting these are your options other than shows.
     So back to the mall, If you know that 90% of everything inside the antique mall will be either way overpriced, or sub standard, or both, then that's fine. That still leaves 10% and 10% of one of these places is still a lot. Now Is there a chance of turning up a "diamond in the rough"....?  Yes absolutely,  if of course you are an employee of the mall, or a dealer who can frequent the place every few days. As a casual visitor I'd say your chances are exceedingly slim.
      With eyes wide open lets visit one of the largest antiques malls in America.   Springfield Ohio plays host to The Heart of Ohio Antiques center  this is a 160000 square foot behemoth, consider that a Wal-Mart super center is 125000 SF this place is 1/3 bigger than that!  Here's a pic of their ad in Maine antiques digest.
      I stopped at this mall for the first time driving through Ohio, it's about 1/2 way between Dayton and Columbus just off I-70  It's an easy day trip from anywhere in Ohio, and an easy overnight from Chicago, or Indianapolis.   I was hunting globes, advertising, maps, furniture, etc.  I naturally zerod in on the globes seeing as this is the market that I have the best grasp of. I want to show an example of a globe that I would have purchased 5-6 years ago that would have been a mistake.
Mid 30's Crams silver Ocean globe
     This is at first glance a not so bad Cram's silver ocean globe from the 1930's.  This is a globe that belongs in any serious collection of American globes, they are uncommon, not rare ( there is a difference)  and they are generally attractive. Probably one of the most desirable globes Cram's ever made.  If you blow up the picture you'll see that it's got some wrinkles, and scrapes and general wear, it's in average condition,  priced at $139.  I was told that getting $15 off the price would be no problem,  "just ask at checkout", the floor attendant said.  So is this globe worth $120... or $110...or $100...... it's not.   As a collector it's just not worth your trouble, you are far better off buying one in nicer condition at $160, or $200.  This is a great example of how your collection will be long suffering if you buy at this level.  It's better to spend up and acquire a better example of this globe than settle for this.  Look at the base, it's rusty!
     Next I want to show you another item, a Trippensee planetarium, a really nice example from 1958
 This particular item was in very nice condition, I would be hard pressed to find a better example  of a mid century planetarium.  Here's the problem, it's listed at   $1800..!!!  How was that price arrived at.....??  That's a price I've seen for older wooden planetariums, but these Bakelite/ plastic ones seem to top out right around $700-$800.  The top line pricing usually include the original box, and the handbook, both were missing here.  I wanted this planetarium but I could not even begin to negotiate on this item.  This piece will sit in this mall gathering dust until doomsday the way it's priced.
     I see this a lot at antiques malls, a great item woefully overpriced.  It's like someone did an Internet search, keyed in on the highest price ever advertised, you know..... the high end Manhattan Wall street price, and THEN.... decided that  price would be appropriate in Springfield Ohio, at an antique mall.......  What am I missing here?
     Malls are designed for that casual buyer, I get that.  I'm not necessarily the target of a mall's allure, I get that too.  I do believe in life and especially in the hunt for antiques that quality should reign supreme over quantity.  Think about the great collections you've observed in your personal life weather they be seashells, stamps, baseball cards, or vintage automobiles.  What is all cases that rare, pristine, original , authentic thing is what you remember most, it's what sticks with you.  When I hunt for something to add to my collection I want the best that I can afford, and you should too.  A finely curated collection of say 5 items will always be more desirable and therefore more valuable than a mediocre gathering of a dozen items.

     I suspect that is where my bias against the antique mall really lies, this is a place where it is so easy to succumb to the pull of the mediocre.   This post and this blog aim to break those habits, habits I too have trouble with.  Lets see a few more things and evaluate the pros and cons.
      These next few photos i'm attempting to show a few examples of the type of dross so common to the antique mall, the type of item that will just kill a collection.  These are inexpensive, common, not that old, and none of these items are in that great of shape.  Firstly buying a tin globe is not bad, but never, and I mean never buy a dented example.  There are just too many clean examples to be had, don't settle.  Secondly this solar system model is priced at a bit over $100 seems like a bargain compared to the Trippensee tellurion above?  Well it's not it's worth like $40 on a good day, and it's just not that old.  I mean if you love the look and can find one for that lower price then fine....I guess.  Finally we stumble onto something that at first blush is promising, a Replogle, illuminated globe 10 inch diameter.  So what fault do I have with an item like this. Well condition wise its sketchy,  you don't want to turn on an illuminated globe and see seams, and missing map glaring at you, it's unappealing, this is a death from a thousand cuts type of purchase.  it's just below mediocre, it is just not worth having, it's nothing you can build on as a collector it's a $50 dust collector.
      By now some of you reading this must think,  my goodness he's so there nothing that he saw that was worthy in his mind...?  Perhaps you think I'm being too picky.  Well I've saved the best for last. I did not buy these but they are great items:

These are school maps from the turn of the 20th century, they are over 100 years old, and they are self framed by the manufacturer.  They are large wall maps published by the Atlas Relief Map company of Chicago.  These were in very nice original condition, especially the North America map, very little wear, crisp and easy to read.  I wanted them but they were just too big. They are hanging at the Heart of Ohio Antique mall as we speak.  Priced at $395 each I'm sure a deal could be had in the $325-$350 range.  That my friends would be a satisfying buy.  These maps in auction/ retail settings are often priced substantially higher.   So there you go I found a worthy item,  and I've left it behind for you.......
      Let me close with a few more thoughts.  The antiques market at least the low and mid level is now primarily an online affair.  That makes it dificult in some ways to attract new people to any form of antiques hobby.  Malls counteract that by exposing people to a wide variety of goods all in one place.  You certainly need physical exposure to old stuff in order to appreciate it.   Currently I'm in Bouckville NY for the annual    Madison Bouckville antiques week   It's a " Brimfield lite" type of event, same format, but merchandice at these shows tends to be 2 steps above your usual Antique mall fare.  I'll be highlighting this experience in my next blog post .
     As always please feel free to disagree, comment, and most importantly, join this blog or subscribe via email at the top of the page!!