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Willem Blaeu produced this celestial globe when he was 32 years old. Although it was his fourth globe (the second celestial), it was meant to be paired with his first, a 34cm terrestrial model. Between 1599, when the first terrestrial globe was published, and 1603, when its celestial mate was finally completed, he produced a smaller pair together. And scholars are still curious why he waited four years to produce the second celestial globe.
Blaeu studied under Tycho Brahe, the brilliant astronomer of the sixteenth century, and used Brahe’s star charts for the Northern constellations of his first globe. But, in 1595, Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman sailed to Southeast Asia with directions from the East India Trading Company to map the largely uncharted southern skies. Shortly after this major expedition, Blaeu’s most threatening competitor, Jodocus Hondius, produced a celestial globe to show off the newly discovered Southern stars. This prompted Blaeu to design this, his second celestial globe.
Blaeu’s globes are splendid examples of Dutch cartography and national pride. Although the constellation Argo is a ship from Greek mythology, on this globe it bears two Dutch flags in tribute to the 1595 voyage that was swiftly followed by Dutch colonialism in Southeast Asia. In 1633, Blaeu was rewarded for his national pride and cartographic excellence with his appointment as official cartographer to the Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC). His business promptly became one of the most successful enterprises in Amsterdam during the height of the Dutch Golden Age.
According to Peter van der Krogt's Globi Neerlandici, this is the first state of Blaeu's 6-inch globe. The second state of this globe was produced after ca. 1621, when Jansz. adopted the name Blaeu to differentiate himself from Johannes Janssonius. Since this globe reads "Janssonius," not Blaeu, we know that it cannot be the second state.
Georg Christoph Eimmart was a prominent German astronomer, artist and mathematician in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. He is better known for the private observatory he erected outside of Nuremberg, complete with his own cutting-edge astronomical instruments. Although he produced a large number of globe gores, many of which were used by later globe makers, he only produced a few globes in 1705, the year he died. He was much more concerned with the accuracy of his gores, and which “latest authorities” could be trusted. Thus, this globe is a rare gem in the collection's crown.
William Bardin and his son, Thomas, are considered the two most prolific globemakers in London during the end of the eighteenth century. London was one of the busiest centers for globe production during the Enlightenment, and the Bardin family were some of the best in all of Europe. This globe was made to accompany The Geographical Magazine, an educational compilation of the latest geography for the general public.
Delamarche, originally a Parliament lawyer, was the first Frenchman to open a successful globe workshop in Paris. Previously, the French public was not particularly interested in globes, and there were few individuals who dared to open shops outside of London. As the demand for globes grew in France, other shops sprang up, but Delamarche remained the leading manufacturer. Higher demand drove globemakers to use cheaper materials, so Delamarche began using papier mâché, the most popular medium for the sphere itself. Instead of producing original globes, he revised and republished the plates he collected, which included the work of the Robert de Vaugondy family. Comparably cheaper than his competitors, Delamarche maintained a monopoly in college distribution for nearly thirty years.
This globe shows the three voyages across the Pacific taken by Captain James Cook, the British explorer, cartographer and captain of the Royal Navy. During the latter half of the eighteenth century, much of the globe was still uncharted. Captain Cook was the first European to successfully map the eastern coastline of Australia and Hawaii, and circumnavigate New Zealand. Cook’s accomplishments are recognized as some of the most impactful in all of cartographic history. According to Frank McLynn, author of Captain Cook: Master of the Seas, Cook's discoveries “roused the French, Spanish and Russians from their dogmatic slumbers,” fostering a renewed surge in exploration, and allowed the English to colonize Australia.
Giovanni Maria Cassini was one of the three major Italian globemakers between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, some scholars argue that Cassini's globes were not as sophisticated as those made in London or Paris. But nevertheless, Cassini’s globes were very popular, and thus he is still considered an “important engraver” in globe history. His real expertise was in the production of atlases and sheet maps. His atlas, Nuovo Atlante geografico universale, also published in 1792, is considered his masterpiece.
Based on "the secrets of Captain Cook," this globe is yet another example of Delamarche's fine work.
Brothers John and William Cary were partners in the globe business. John was a leading cartographer, and William, a skilled instrument maker. Started in 1791, their shop was deemed one of the best in the business. John’s two sons, George and John Jr. learned the trade from their father, and continued the business after his death.
Some of Delamarche's celestial globes were based on recent observations; some from astronomer Charles Messier
James Wilson was the first American globemaker. He was born to a family of farmers in Londonderry, New Hampshire. But Wilson had a passion for geography. When he was 32, his family moved to Bradford, Vermont, and he was afforded the chance to visit Dartmouth College, where a pair of globes on were display. Their magnificence inspired Wilson to make a pair of his own. So, he purchased the third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and taught himself the many challenging skills involved in crafting a globe; geography, astronomy, engraving, and toolmaking, among others. He even designed his own printing press. Upon completing his first globe in 1796, he took it to Dr. Morse, a geographer from Boston, who revealed that Wilson’s globe was faulty. But, undiscouraged, Wilson started over, this time producing an accurate, yet artistically stunning pair. By 1813, Wilson had established a successful workshop in Albany, New York. Three years later he brought his sons into the business, and expanded the business, producing both pocket globes and table tops. By the time this pair was made, the family firm was well established.