Thursday, November 7, 2019

Joslin Solar-Telluric globe , an in depth look

     This is a guest post by my friend and fellow collector Brian,  I hope you enjoy:  

“In a single half hour a child may be taught by this globe what few persons learn during their lives” – Preface to “A Manual for Joslin’s New Solar Telluric Globe, Designed for the Use of Families, Schools and Academies” 1858

Can you close your eyes and picture the earth from space? Can you see how it lines up in relation to the sun and the moon? Can you go further and construct a mental image of what the rest of the solar system looks like and how it is oriented in the Milky Way? If you do it is likely that you have spent some time looking at computer models or real images from space. Your conceptualization of the physical universe is likely related to how well you paid attention in 7th grade and your exposure to books and digital resources that are now at our fingertips with the click of a button. It doesn’t just come naturally from standing outside and looking up!  

Now, as best you can in your mind go back 150 years to 1870. What tools did people have to understand the motion of the earth in relation to the sun? Astronomers have been making observations for a long time and there have been some pretty big arguments through the centuries about exactly what revolves around what but mainstream science has settled on the heliocentric model with the earth going around the sun. As a basic concept this seems rather easy to comprehend but it is a little more complex to understand how seasons work and why different parts of the earth have longer periods of light than others. 

Mechanical models of the universe have existed as early as 150 BC  but certainly were not common items. For educational purposes, companies through the years have tried to create simple models of physical phenomena that could be used as teaching aids in the classroom. 
Generally speaking, tellurians show the relative motion of the earth and the moon as they revolve around the sun. The device featured here is called a solar-telluric globe because it’s main purpose is only to demonstrate the relationship between the sun and the earth.

I was excited to find this Joslin device because I have wanted an old orrery or tellurian of any type since I was in high school (the late 1980s). I was particularly happy because, even though the paper on the base is fairly worn, the orb is in exceptional condition. As you can see in the photos, there is really only one small ding just of the coast of South America. The missing piece of the mount was the rod with the brass sun but this is the easiest thing to replicate. I ordered a small solid brass ball from the Internet and cut an appropriate sized length of metal rod to mount it on. I then drilled a hole, machined some threads with a tap and die set and screwed the ball on top of the rod. As a finishing touch, the brass was treated to replicate the appropriate patina for 150 years. 

The provenance of this globe provided to me by the previous owner explains why the orb looks so fantastic. During the Great Depression the seller’s grandfather worked as a school janitor which would explain how it was saved from being discarded. Grandfather passed it along in the 1960’s at which point the globe was simply put in a box in a closet where it sat for almost 60 years!  As an aside, I have to comment how sad it is that schools through the years have often thrown things away rather than pass them along. I have a friend who has a pristine and massive full-mount Denoyer-Geppert platform globe from 1967 (like the one on Murray Hudson’s site) that she found discarded next to the dumpster out in the back of the school she worked at!

The earliest Joslin Solar Telluric mounts I have seen are from 1854. Information on David Rumsey’s website indicates that in 1853 this device won a bronze medal at the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association fair. The orb on this one would date to circa 1870 since Alaska has changed from Russian America (1867), Oregon Territory no longer appears (1860 Joslin globe had this) and the name New Holland has been removed from Australia. It would seem that for some reason 1860 is the last year that Joslin decided to put a date on its 6 inch globes. 

The full title of the manual that would have accompanied this device is mentioned at the top of this post and it is very clear that the globe was meant to be used for teaching purposes. The full text of the manual can be found at:
Below, I have included the titles of the various chapters that can be found in the manual so you can get a quick idea of the contents. As a globe collector I just have to say that it is so incredible to be able to set the globe position and then push it through one orbit with your hand! 

Part I
Description of the globe with definitions of parts 

Part II 
Solutions of problems
Position of earth as regards the sun for every given day of the year
Find the latitude and longitude
Show the changes of the season in relation to plane of orbit and inclination of earth
Find length of day or night for any given day of the year at any given place on earth
Show that relative length of day and night changes more rapidly in high than in low latitudes
Determine what time sun will rise of set on any given day of year at any location
Find when the sun will be vertical at any given place in the torrid zone or how many degrees north or south of the equator it will be for any given day of the year (analemma?)
Show what parts of the earth have constant day or night and how long this condition lasts
Determine when morning and evening twilight will begin at any location

Time of day at any given location to determine the time at any other place
To show why 366 revolutions of the earth upon it’s axis are required, to make 365 days
To show the sun’s place in the zodiac

Show the principal of measuring distances to the sun and stars


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Hammond's celestial globe upgrade, a look at one of the most important parts of collecting

     Upgrading a collection is something that gets only passing coverage ,  this post hopes to change that.    If you've been collecting anything for a while then you know that sometimes you've got to buy a better example of something you already have and sell the other item in order to upgrade,   without this selling you run the risk of becoming a hoarder !    This is the tale of one such upgrade.
     Months ago I purchased this very nice Hammond's celestial globe:

     I was happy and content,  these globes are not easy to find and are usually not in as nice a shape,   I was happy until last week that is when I was cursing Ebay and I discovered this:
     This is the same globe,  but in a more desirable mount, and with slightly better original color,  so I knew I had to UPGRADE.    This is a great example of an upgrade situation.  These is a clear betterment, and the other globe being redundant is best sold and moved into someone else collection for them to enjoy.    This new Hammond's globe condition wise is excellent,  as is the condition of the one it will replace.  The horizon band is a nice touch,  had this globe not come along or had the price been ridiculous I could have just as easily not bought it and been content.  
      However the right place at the right time situation worked out and I was able to make the switch.  Here is another shot of the globe:

     Celestial globes in my mind deserve attention as perfect companions to any terrestrial globe in a collection.  American globe makers made some of the most stunning celestial globes in the world over the past 200 years, below Ive got a picture of 3 of my favorite globes from 1880-1950, all celestial and all beautiful.  Interesting to see how over time cost pressure demanded that things get less ornate and more utilitarian over time.

Left to right: 1880 Andrews, 1930 Rand McNally, and 1950 Hammond's

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Holbrook globe manual and catalog, an Ebay story

     I love finding these nuggets on Ebay .   This find is EXACTLY why despite all the complaining I do Ebay is still the most fertile hunting ground out there.    This is the story of a book,  a Holbrook manual, with the cumbersome title of  " A Teacher's guide to Illustration or Holbrooks guide to school apparatus".  In a nutshell it is part globe use manual ( about 1/2 the book) part globe catalog (20%) and the rest a guide to various other Holbrook teaching aids.  It is Holbrook's version of a globe manual and catalog all wrapped into one, and it it an extremely difficult to find item.   This book is rarer than the Joslin or Andrews manuals because this was not given away for free but rather purchased separately for an additional charge.   This copy is from 1871 but it was originally published in the mid 1860's.
     It is bound on stiff boards, with a wonderful illustration on the cover a virtual cabinet of curiosities of planetary models is represented,  perhaps my goal as a collector should be to re create this photo with collected apparatus?  The pages are filled with over 20 additional illustrations of globes, maps and planetary models in addition to chapters devoted to their use and virtue as teaching aids.
     So,  here's how it went,  I do a lot of different Ebay searches, and last week during one of my searches I found this book tucked away as a 7 day auction in a category labeled " educational books" this catchall category was ripe for auctions that could have done better in another more specific category.  When I saw the auction it already had an opening bid,  the person who had bid on the item had also recently competed intensely for a Holbrook hemisphere globe just the week before, but lost. I added this to my watch list and waited for the end.  Of course the end was inconvenient a time when I'd be at work.  Never fear I was sniping anyhow. Is there any other way to bid?   In the end it was rather anticlimactic .   I was the only other bidder,  I believe this owes to the mis- categorization on Ebay.   I've had sever great finds due to these types of situations,  always a great thing ! I believe if correctly listed it would have gone much higher in a different  category.
      Over the past decade I've been working to assemble as many catalogs , pamphlets , and manuals pertaining to American globes as I can,  with an emphasis on materials from before 1930.  To date I have amassed 40 plus items.  Separately they are nothing special, but together they are a collection all their own that I want to use to better understand the globes and planetaria themselves .    I find it endlessly fascinating to put these objects in context,  knowing how they were used and where is an interesting story.  Seeing how globes morphed from a statement of knowledge and prosperity during James Wilson's time to the simple educational appliance advertised by Weber Costello, and Replogle is an interesting journey.
     Below are a sampling of some of the items in my "globe library".

Monday, September 30, 2019

Joslin and A H Andrews globe handbooks......finally added to collection

     I love the ephermal items associated with globes,  Ive written about such things many times.   As disposable as some globes were and are,  these globe handbooks and manuals are exceedingly difficult to find.   I was able recently to add two such items from the late 19th century a Joslin handbook as well as an Andrews handbook.   Originally these books would have been given out with globe purchase, commonly globes 8 inches or larger got a handbook included.
Joslin ( left) and AH Andrews (right)  globe handbooks 

      These are firstly handbooks but they are also advertisements for their respective companies globes and other products.  it's really an ingenious way of advertising considering print advertising was just about the ONLY medium available to companies in the 1880's.    Between Joslin and Andrews  these two companies controlled the lion's share of the globe market in the US,  with for home, libraries, and especially schools.   The David Rumsey collection has the full text of the Andrews handbook located here: AH Andrews globe handbook,    and the Smithsonian has the Joslin text here:  Joslin's handbook to the terrestrial and celestial globes
      These 2 books have been on my most wanted list for quite a long time.  They seem to become available very rarely at best.   I've been trying to define exactly what I'm trying to do as a collector and a big part of what I want to do is tell a story about the companies that made these objects as well.  So that means tracking down the esoteric bits that live at the margins of the hobby and bring them front and center. After all it's history that is best represented as a complete package.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Exploring the Brimfield antiques show 2019

Waiting to "Rush" May's field 9/5/19
     I love Brimfield,  I'm sure it's heyday was 20 years ago but where else are you going to find a sea of humanity trading antiques in such a manner.  Rich, poor, simple, and sophisticated, in Brimfield knowledge is power,  the great equalizer .     I love the September show,  sure some say May is bigger, but the combination of weather and timing just combine to really work for me to make September a tradition.   This year I took a long time friend for his first time waking at dawn, driving in the dark,  parking in the grass.  I knew I was in for an interesting few days when he said to me 3 hours into our 1st day " I've gone 52 years having never used a portages John "  I replied " well we've got 4 more hours to go, I think your streak ends today" good times were had!
The sea of humanity, antiquers on a mission


condition issues
     Now, I do collect many more things than globes,  I just happen to be much more passionate about globes than anything else, but I also like old medical items, antique coin operated trade stimulators, and old trade signs,  so Brimfield is my chance to look for anything I might find interesting to add to my collection.  Some of my best scores, and biggest mistakes have been made in the heat of the moment here.   One thing I never seem to find is a great globe,  it seems either the condition is not right, or the price is not right, or something.
     Here are a few examples of what I run into,  this first globe is an 8 inch Hammond's globe, that had major condition issues,  the price was quoted as $375,  the dealer extolled the virtues of the beautiful stand, but he failed to understand that the value lies in having a crisp pristine map.

mystery prices
      This group looked promising from a distance,  I was inspecting the globes and right a way the condition was lacking,  I was curious about prices, but here we had a dealer with no price tags,  I see this a lot at shows like this,  unpriced merchandise .   I as a customer just don't understand this.  It would save me a lot of time and save the dealer a lot of time if the items were priced.  the 12 inch globe was $300,  the floor globe $500,  however the floor globe was beyond help with water damage, I was perplexed as to how $500 could be the price?  I inquired,  I then learned that this particular globe had a provenance,  it had come out of some risky dink college library that NOBODY has ever heard of.......OH OK.... mystery solved,  I hope he like loading and unloading this thing at 10 shows.
Replogle clock globe
     Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations,  maybe I'm the customer from hell.  I hope not,  I'm willing to pay for knowledge, and quality, and condition.  I just hate to fritter away money on junk.   To the left ( captioned Replogle clock globe) I found a very nice example of a Replogle World time globe.  It was priced very reasonably at $175 and I'm sure it did not last,  the clock was demonstrated as working and the orb was very nice!   I didn't buy it because it's not really what I like to collect but I know somebody got a nice addition to their collection with this one.
Rand McNally 18 inch globe

      Here Is another globe that Is really rare in any form, an 18 inch table globe by Rand McNally from the 1890's.   Table globes of this vintage are hard to find in this colossal 18 inch size,   this globe was priced to sell at $200,  I suspect there was even wiggle room there.   It needed some TLC to be great,  including new shellac , because someone had stripped it,  and some minor crack repair.   I thought long and hard about this one because I'm just not the collector for this globe, but for the right person this could be a winner.  I chatted with the dealer,  seems it was a recent estate find.
A whole globe collection!
      This collection of objects were interesting,  2 Trippensee planetariums, and a lovely 8 inch Kittenger table globe,  the black painted Trippensee was the EXACT planetarium I saw from this dealer last year this thing has seen Brimfield possibly 4 times and has not sold.  Probably because the prices are up in the heavens.   Last year was one overpriced globe,  now there are 3 overpriced items sitting in a pasture in Massechesutes ( not Madison ave) as the pricing might suggest.   I was interested in the Kittinger,  but the price was so far from reality I felt as if  I couldn't even start negotiating.

      I hope all of my snark is not off-putting especially if this is your first brush with my blog.    I seem to become frustrated easily at shows,  I'm sure dealers are easily frustrated by moronic customers, but such is life.   I love Brimfield, and I love the chance if remote in finding something great.  It's a yearly ritual.  It's awesome!!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

James Wilson 1828 globe part 3, The restoration process behind the scenes

     Since starting this blog back in 2014,  I have talked about globe restoration on several occasions, I have even interviewed experts in the field.  It was not until recently that I myself had reason to work with a restorer on one of my own globes.
     That occasion came with my acquisition of a James Wilson globe,  a globe that had been darkened by dirt, grime, and time to the point where the legibility of the map surface was impacted to the point that enjoyment of the artifact was impacted,  restoration made sense.
The globe before any restoration, complete, and intact but quite dirty
     So how did I get started,  first step in this process I emailed Matthew Jones at Green Dragon Bindery,  I sent many bright, clear photographs.  He was able to offer a preliminary assessment of the work needed,  based on his analysis I decided to move forward, I shipped the globe off.   After receiving the globe, and examining it in person I received a clear estimate of the work required.  That work included, a removal of the old darkened varnish, cleaning and re-aligning the brass parts, re-gluing the wooden joints, stabilizing a small crack at the poles, and finally re-varnish the orb and horizon band.

      As important as what was done for this globe is what was not done.  It was decided that re coloring of the map surface, or the horizon band were not needed, also the original red paint on the edge of the horizon was left as is, finally the original finish on the stand was left these items were in fine antique shape there was no need to over restore this globe.
     These two photos of the horizon band show the tedious process of removing 190 years of dirt and grime.  This was probably the dirtiest part of the globe as it sat horizontal and collected the most environmental contaminants.  Notice the incredible difference between the cleaned vs dirty sections.   It is important I think to mention that having the original shellac in place all these years was a wonderful thing as it protected the paper underneath allowing this cleaning to be so successful.
   In this next photo the map surface is starting to be rid of the old dirty varnish.  Again the varnish did it's job protecting the map surface all these years.

These photographs to the left show the globe stand being re-glued in order to hold this globe securely for the next 100 years.  It was fortunate that this stand was free from cracks, splits or breaks, and the original finish was intact .  A minimum of work was required to bring this stand back to tip top shape.

This next photo with the orb in a wooden jig, is showing the application of a new shellac coating. It is here for the first time that the original colors of the 1828 map are revealed as the globe maker intended.  The greens, reds, and blues were still present under that old shellac surface.

     Next on the agenda were the brass fittings,  two things were done with the brass fittings, firstly they were checked and corrected to make sure they were in proper alignment, after that they were cleaned in what I will describe as a sympathetic manner.  By this I mean that they were NOT polished back to a gleaming as new shine,  instead care was taken to polish the metal parts to even out the finish as well as be careful to respect that fact that these are nearly 200 year old parts.

     As you can see this restoration focused on the removal of dirt and grime, there were no replacement parts required, nor was there any need for the addition of map coloring .  A new varnish coating and some new glue to the joints is all that was added to this Wilson globe in order to bring it back to a condition where it can be enjoyed for the next 100 years.
     Restoration of this globe went smoothly, there were no surprises along the way.  It was probably the first time this globe had been touched with the aim pf restoration in it's entire existence.   I believe I was extremely fortunate to have found this globe in such condition.   I would guess that globes of this vintage rarely come up for sale in better condition.  This final picture is the finished product, certainly the cornerstone of my collection.   Now the hunt commences for the celestial companion......
The end result, 1828 James Wilson globe after restoration

     My goal with this post is to de-mystify the restoration process,  this was my first restoration project and although I had some idea as to what to expect you're never sure what to expect until you've gone through the process.  I want to thank the staff of the Green Dragon Bindery, with special thanks to Matthew Jones for his skill as well as his patience working with a neophyte restoration client.  An exceptional result !

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

James Wilson 1828 globe part 2 Before and after

     This is part 2 of a 3 part series chronicling the acquisition and restoration of a rare James Wilson terrestrial globe of 1828.  
      In my last post I talked a bit about finding this globe, for this post I will talk about the amazing before and after restoration.   In the final post I'll go in depth with the process of the globes restoration.
      I took a  series of photographs in my first blog post, I will in this post recreate those exact photos but with the newly restored globe.

1828 Wilson globe, before
1828 Wilson globe, after

In this 1st set of photographs it's obvious the transformation this globe underwent.  Nearly 200 years of dust, and environmental contaminants were removed to reveal the original map surface underneath.   The brass pieces were polished, but they were purposefully not brought up to a gleaming shine, which would not have fit the character of the globe.

North America before

North America after

     This second set of photos I have highlighted the North American continent.    Here you can also see the cleaning that was done to the horizon band.   The globe was nearly illegible under so much dirt, grime and discoloring,  but much of that grime sat on and in the old varnish layer on the globe. This old varnish protected the map surface underneath.  It did it's job incredibly well.   I should note that all of the color in the " after" photographs is completely original to the globe.  There was no addition of color during the conservation process.    In my mind unless the globe is damaged it is better to take a less is more approach to any restoration process.   I suppose I could have asked for the map surface to be re colored, or the horizon ring to be brightened further with pigments etc,  but at what point do you go from uncovering the past to re creating the past?    I wanted this globe to be true to itself,  it's 190 years old,  it's not going to look new,  nor should it.   With that said this globe was fortunate in that it was basically just very dirty.   There were no missing parts, holes, or such to deal with.
globe and stand, after

globe and stand, before

  This next set of photographs shows another view of the map surface and the stand.  The wooden pieces on this globe underwent  no restoration of the finish,  the original finish remains.  The only thing I might do to the finish is apply a coating of high grade furniture wax. Beeswax would have been available throughout this globe's life and I think that would be appropriate in this case.

cartouche before

cartouche after

      Finally I wanted to provide a before and after photo of the globe's cartouche.  Certainly it was legible before restoration, but the difference is dramatic in the after shot.          I've been collecting for q while now,  almost 15 years and this is the first globe that I have undertaken to have professionally restored.  I think the conservation and restoration process is a mystery to most people.  It is a service that most people will go their whole lives never using, be it for a globe, books, maps or other paper items.  In part 3 of this 3 post wonder, I want to pull the Curtain back on this globes restoration  with some mid restoration photographs.  I will also get into what I feel to be important questions to ask when it comes to having a restoration like this done.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Globe collecting article featuring yours truly !!

     A few months back I did an interview for Antique Week Magazine   and this week it hit newsstands ( do they exist anymore) .  Anyhow I hope I did the globe collecting hobby justice here are a couple of screenshots any feedback is welcome!   Click on the link and find the July 8th article.
Front cover, featuring my Wilson globe

page 2

Thursday, June 13, 2019

James Wilson terrestrial globe, 1828 part 1

     Opportunity knocks sometimes when you least expect it.  Such is the story behind my acquisition of what will surely become the cornerstone of my globe collection.    Just this week I was able to purchase a James Wilson terrestrial globe dated 1828.   This globe is and may possibly stay the oldest globe in my collection.  Wilson, is credited with selling the first American produced globes in  1811,  this globe is  a mere 17 years after that event.
     This globe represents for me the bookend of my collection,  I like to say I'm collecting American globes from Wilson to Weber, this now is truth.  Adding a globe from the father of American globe making adds a level of completeness to my collection.  A far more advanced collector than I once said no collection of American globes is complete without a James Wilson globe.

     So  let's study this relic,  it is a full mount table globe 13 inches in diameter, by far James Wilson's most common globe size.
James Wilson &Sons 13 inch globe, 1828
     Now I know what your thinking,   that thing looks pretty crusty!  Yes it does, but underneath that badly darkened varnish lies an exceptionally well preserved globe over 190 years old.   It is actually in marvelous preservation, it even spins smoothly and freely in it's brass meridian.   The frame apart from being dry and tired retains it's original finish and the horizon band is nearly completely intact, albeit under many layers of crusty varnish. Most importantly the thumb screw that holds the globe meridian still in the meridian is present.  Often these screws went missing and that's when a lot of damage occurs with these old globes.     All things considered this globe is exactly what you want to find in a nearly 200 year old artifact.  This is a great example of a globe that has not been messed with.  There have not been previous restorations, or conservation attempts.  Also most importantly there is an absence of water damage, be it from actually getting wet, or the ravages of damp storage. Somehow this globe has escaped those fates.  A survivor in the truest sense of the word.
      This globe shows the geography of 1828,  half of the western US is still Mexico,  another large section is simply Oregon territory.    Andrew Jackson was elected ( rather contentiously) in 1828, defeating John Quincy Adams.
     James Wilson's sons had by 1828 taken over the firm their father had built and were continuing the quality globe production of their father.   In Part 2 of this post I'm going to show the remarkable  "After"  photographs that show this globe fully conserved.
    So what's to be done to this globe?  Well in a short while I will place this globe in the very capable hands of the experts at Green Dragon Bindery.  It is there that this globe will be expertly cleaned, aligned, and re-varnished, with a few minor touch ups along the way. In other words it will be properly conserved,  notice I didn't say restored.  There is a difference.  With a globe this old sometimes less is more.
      This globe is certain to become a favorite because of the American ingenuity it represents in it's manufacture as well as it's place in history.
Packed and shipping out for restoration 
     A few thoughts about James Wilson and his globe making career.  In my mind I divide James Wilson globes  into 3 time periods of globe manufacture, as follows.

1st period:  from 1810 until 1826:  James Wilson himself is at the helm of his enterprise, starting in 1817 until 1826 he works and builds his enterprise with his sons.

2nd period :  1826 until 1833:  James Wilson steps back from day to day operations, and the responsibilities fall to his two sons,  Cyrus Lancaster , James's son in law enters the firm in 1826.

3rd Period: 1833 until 1850's:  James Wilson looses his two sons in 1833, and Cyrus Lancaster continues the firm ,  the cartouche at this point changes from James Wilson &sons to Cyrus Lancaster.

  UPDATE:   JULY 9, 2019:    Heres a sneak peek at the globe mid restoration,  with thanks to Matthew at The Green Dragon Bindery
Amazing transformation
1829 James Wilson globe