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.
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.
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 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]
Here’s a short video from the British Museum about a 13th-century celestial globe; it goes into the history of the globe, who made it, and how the stars appear on it (i.e. if the sky is represented as a globe, we’re on the inside: how do the stars appear on that globe?).
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.
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.
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]
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.
It seems like everyone who evaluated the Waldseemüller globe gores is going to get a profile. The recently discovered gores were going to be auctioned by Christie’s last month until experts found evidence that they were carefully faked copies. That was, as I said at the time, a bombshell. Since then we’ve seen profiles of the experts at the James Bell Ford Library and Michal and Lindsay Peichl; now add to the list Alex Clausen, the gallery director of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps in La Jolla, California, whose work on the globe gores got profiled this week in the La Jolla Light. The article is a bit breathless in tone, but goes into much more detail than some of the others and is worth your time. Some key points:
- Clausen guesses that the forgery was done in the 1940s or 1950s (“The prime forgery suspect is Carl Schweidler, whom Clausen calls ‘probably the best paper restorer of the 20th century.’”);
- The reason why Christie’s was led astray was that one of the reference gores—the Bavarian State Library’s—was also a fake (that latter fact has already come out, but this article doesn’t gloss over its importance); and
- Barry Ruderman, Clausen’s boss, guesses that this is only the tip of the forgery iceberg.
Still more coverage of the cancelled auction of the Waldseemüller globe gores that were later identified as fakes, this time from the Houston Chronicle, which pursues the local-interest angle by talking to Michal and and Lindsay Peichl, restorers from Clear Lake, Texas (their firm is Paper Restoration Studio) who were brought in to examine the gores along with other experts. Michal says it didn’t take him long to figure it out:
“My first reaction when I saw the picture was, ‘Oh my God, this is a fake,'” said Michal. “You could tell this was a sheet of paper pulled from a book binding board.
“It was printed on a piece of paper that used to be glued on the back of book and that was a red flag to me because as a forger, if you want to make a fake, that’s where you would go to get a clean sheet of paper.”
Previously: How the James Ford Bell Library Fingered the Fake Waldseemüller Globe Gores; Waldseemüller Auction Cancelled After Experts Suspect Fakery; More on the Waldseemüller Globe Gores Auction; Sixth Waldseemüller Globe Gore to Be Auctioned Next Month.
Bellerby & Co., the maker of expensive hand-made globes, is hiring again: this time they’re looking for a graphic designer/cartographer—a skill set more widely available than that for the apprentice globemaker they were looking for last year. They’re also looking for a woodworker to build the wood bases for their globes.
More on the cancelled auction of the Waldseemüller globe gores from Minneapolis-St. Paul TV station KARE, which looks at the work by the James Ford Bell Library that raised questions about the authenticity of the gores that Christie’s was set to auction last week. And a seriously buried lede: another set of Waldseemüller globe gores may not be authentic either: “During this process, experts also discovered that a copy at the Bavarian State Library in Germany may not be authentic, as well. Ragnow said that copy matches closely with the 2017 Christie’s one.” [WMS]
This is a bombshell. Christie’s has cancelled its upcoming auction of a (supposedly) newly discovered copy of Waldseemüller’s globe gores. Experts found evidence suggesting that the gores were a carefully faked copy of the gores found in the James Ford Bell Library. In today’s New York Times, Michael Blanding (who wrote a book on the Forbes Smiley affair) has the scoop on how the red flags were raised. The auction was supposed to take place on Wednesday; the gores were expected to fetch between £600,000 and £900,000.