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***