These Globes Are Uncanny

Globus PolskiTwice now I’ve encountered globes that I find more than a bit unsettling, in that they wrap a map of a portion of the Earth around an entire globe.

The first one I ran across was the Globus Polski or Poland Globe, an inexpensive 12-inch globe which comes in two versions, administrative and physical, and depicts the country of Poland as if it were Pangaea. According to a comment on the Reddit post where I think I first saw it, there are apparently other single-country globes like this out there.

Silk Road Globe (Bellerby)

The second is the polar opposite of the Poland Globe: it’s large, expensive and one of a kind: a bespoke, illustrated globe of the Silk Route that took Bellerby more than a year to complete to the customer’s exact specifications. The main map on the globe covers the Silk Route itself, from the Mediterranean to Japan; the back of the globe—this globe has a back side“features a map of China with overlapping details on the eras at the time of the Silk Route.”

I have to confess that I’m weirded out by this sort of globe: they fall into a cartographic uncanny valley in which the thing mapped is ostensibly correct but in a form that somehow feels deeply wrong.

Antique Globes, Virtual and Real

British Library digital globes
British Library

The British Library is digitizing its collection of globes, with the first seven virtual globes scheduled to be released online next week.

The digital globes will be available to view on the British Library website—www.bl.uk/collection-items—from 26 March, via a viewing platform which includes an augmented reality function (available on phone or tablet via the Sketchfab app). This online access will allow unprecedented up-close interaction with the globes from anywhere in the world and means that for the first time, a variety of previously illegible surface features on the globes can be read.

A total of 30 globes are being scanned this way. [The Guardian]

Meanwhile, in Russia, the Grabar Art Conservation Center is restoring the State Historical Museum’s badly dilapidated pair of Blaue globes. Work on the terrestrial globe has been completed; the celestial globe is next. This video (in Russian) documents the process. See also TVC Moscow (also in Russian). [WMS]

Fire Destroys Columbus Globes Warehouse

Columbus Globes, the century-old German globe manufacturer, lost its warehouse to a fire Thursday night. The 2,500-m2 building in Krauchenwies, Baden-Württemberg was completely destroyed, causing at least €1.5 million in damage. Police suspect arson: there have been a number of deliberately set fires in the Krauchenwies region in recent weeks—two at the Columbus site. News coverage (German only): DPA (Badische Zeitung, RTL, Süddeutsche Zeitung), SWR.

IKEA’s All-Black Globe

IKEA sells an all-black globe as part of its LINDRADE series. It costs $20 in the U.S. and £17 in the U.K.; for some reason it’s not available on the Canadian store. If it were, I might just get one.

Per standing IKEA policy, New Zealand is not shown.

The reviews on the U.S. store are hilarious, but on the U.K. store the single a review on the U.K. says that the globe is chalkboard (it’s made of polystyrene), which makes the product a good deal less absurd. Otherwise, it occurs to me that it could make a halfway decent base on which you could paste your own globe gores. [Cartophilia]

Le Monde en sphères

Le Monde en sphères, a new exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, looks at spherical representations of the world throughout history. Globes, to be sure, but there are other spherical representations to consider as well. See the exhibition website (in French; buggy in some browsers) or visit the physical exhibition, which opens on 16 April 2019 and runs until 21 July at the François Mitterand building. Tickets €7-9.

Malazan Globe

I knew that chalkboard globes were a thing, but one excellent use for them did not occur to me: drawing fantasy maps on them.

This is precisely what one Reddit user has done with the map from Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. Now there is no official overall world map for the Malazan novels: if I understand things correctly, fans have had to reverse-engineer it from the large-scale maps and descriptions in the novels. In any event, putting a fantasy map on a globe is an achievement in and of itself, regardless of source or medium, since most fantasy worlds are drawn as flat maps, and not all of them take a round world into account. [Tor.com]

Previously: Applying Fantasy Maps to Globes.

A Hungarian Globe Puzzle

Sometimes called a Rubik’s globe, though Rubik had nothing to do with it, this Hungarian-made globe puzzle from the 1980s, known variously as the Földgöm, Globus Gömb or Varázs Gömb, sometimes shows up on the lists of collectibles dealers. Consisting of a plastic core and tin surface pieces, the puzzle operates on two axes; the eight corners do not move. Jaap’s Puzzle Page has details on its origins and how to solve it, and also shows a couple of non-geographical globe puzzle variants. Here’s a short blog post from the Retro Game Museum (in Hungarian). And here’s an unboxing video from someone who bought a globe (bundled with a Rubik’s cube) on eBay. [Harvard Map Collection]

Entrepreneur Magazine Profiles Bellerby

Bellerby & Co.

Entrepreneur magazine profiles Peter Bellerby, the founder of globemaking company Bellerby and Company. We’ve seen a lot of Bellerby profiles over the past few years, but this one goes into more depth than most. The story of the company’s founding (Peter wanted to make a globe for his father’s 80th birthday, et cetera) is retold, but we get some more detail about the size and volume of its business today: “This year, the company should turn around about 750 globes, compared to 500 last year—and the current wait list stands between six months and two years depending on globe size. Revenue-wise, the company will likely net about 3 million pounds (close to $4 million) in 2018.” That’s … that’s something. [WMS]

An Amazing Relief Globe of the Moon

In 2016 I told you about Michael Plichta’s first globe, a delightfully retro hand-crafted globe of Mars based on Percival Lowell’s maps that showed the world covered in canals. Plichta’s second globe project is also cool and unusual, but in a completely different way: it’s a relief globe of the Moon. No globe gores were used to make this 30-cm globe: the textured surface is cast in artificial plaster and then painted by hand, a compulsively exacting process laid out in this short video:

Hand-crafted globes are never inexpensive, and though Michael never mentions prices, this one cannot be either. (I’ve seen his Mars globe listed for $1,850.) That said, this is a definite lust object. I desperately want one.

Previously: A Globe of Percival Lowell’s Mars; New Moon Globe Released; Globes of the Solar System.

Mercator Globes at the University of Lausanne

The University of Lausanne has come across a pair of globes—one celestial, one terrestrial—made by Mercator in the 16th century. Mercator apparently had a reputation as a globemaker, and a number of his globes are still in existence today. But “not particularly rare” is not the same as “not particularly  interesting,” and the globes, which first turned up on campus in 2004, are now the subject of an exhibition at the Espace Arlaud in Lausanne, which runs until 15 July, and an extensive and detailed website that talks about the globes and how they were discovered and authenticated. Digital versions of each globe have also been produced: here’s the terrestrial globe; here’s the celestial globe.

All of this, by the way, is in French. If reading French is not your thing, the Harvard Map Collection also has a pair of Mercator globes, which you can view via their (rather dated) website.

FDR’s Globe

Franklin D. Roosevelt being presented a globe by the U.S. Army at the White House in Washington, D.C., December 1942. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Earlier this week I told you about President Kennedy’s map of Cuba. Now here’s a piece on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s globe from the Library of Congress’s map blog.

The “President’s Globe” is big—really big and important. Weighing in at a whopping 750 pounds and sized at an impressive 50 inches in diameter, the globe was specially designed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt for use during World War II. The massive representation of the earth helped the president gauge distances over water to allocate personnel and material in support of the war effort against the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy. This feat of cartographic history was given as a Christmas present to the president in 1942, and he placed the globe directly behind his office chair, often referring to it during his workday.

Lots of interesting detail in this piece. Three globes were made, under the direction of Arthur Robinson (yes, that Robinson) who during the Second World War directed the map division of the OSS: the other two went to Winston Churchill and General George C. Marshall. Roosevelt’s globe is now at his presidential library. [WMS]

Globes Exhibit in Abu Dhabi

Here’s something to do if you’re in the United Arab Emirates. Opening tomorrow (23 March) at the Louvre Abu Dhabi and running until 2 June, Globes: Visions of the World presents works from the Bibliothèque nationale de France and other loaned works, including more than 40 globes.

Starting with the great minds of ancient Greece, the exhibition follows humanity’s never-ending quest for knowledge and adventure. Uncover the vital role played by the pioneering scientists of the Islamic world, and track the ancient science of astronomy as it passed through Muslim Spain in the 10th and the 11th centuries. See the earliest-known celestial globes from the Islamic world and one of the earliest known Arab astrolabe in the world.

More at the Khaleej Times. [Tony Campbell]