The Hunt-Lenox Globe

hunt-lenox

The Hunt-Lenox Globe, a five-inch engraved copper globe dating from the early 1500s, is one of the earliest surviving globes, one of the earliest depictions of the New World and one of only two places where the phrase hic sunt dracones (“here be dragons”) can be found. It’s held by the New York Public Library, who are justly proud of it. They’ve received a grant to produce a 3D scan of the globe; once that’s finished, the 3D model will be available online. In the meantime, here are some other images of the Hunt-Lenox Globe from the NYPL. [via]

The World on an Egg, circa 1504

In an article published this week in the Washington Map Society‘s journal, The Portolan, map collector Stefaan Missinne has announced the discovery of a small, engraved globe that he says is the first to depict the New World. From the WMS’s press release:

The previously-unknown globe, which is about the size of a grapefruit, was made from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs, and dates from the very early 1500s. Until now, it was thought that the oldest globe to show the New World was the “Lenox Globe” at the New York Public Library, but the author presents evidence that this Renaissance ostrich egg globe was actually used to cast the copper Lenox globe, putting its date c. 1504. The globe reflects the knowledge gleaned by Christopher Columbus and other very early European explorers including Amerigo Vespucci after whom America was named.

Ostrich egg globe
The Portolan (Washington Map Society)

The Lenox Globe—also known as the Hunt-Lenox Globe—was cast in 1510; interestingly, prior to this announcement, it was the only map or globe to contain the phrase hic sunt draconeshere be dragons. This globe has the phrase as well. In the Washington Post coverage, two map experts—John Hessler and Chet Van Duzer—are quoted expressing a certain amount of skepticism (especially about the purported da Vinci connection). I also suspect caution is warranted here: the history of antique maps contains several examples of groundshaking discoveries that turn out to be dubious at best.