Globes in various forms are an everyday sight but intriguing none the less. Like maps there are increasingly being looked at in an aesthetic light, but were designed with a clear educational function. An early example the ’Erdapfel’ or ‘Behaim globe’ constructed between 1490 and 1492
was thought to have come to the attention of Christopher Columbus before his famous voyage. He would have consulted flat paper maps but it is only on a globe can you appreciate the directness of the Great Circle route. They also “contrived to solve the various phœnomena of the earth and heavens, in a more easy and natural manner” so said George Adams in his Treatise describing the construction and explaining the use of new celestial and terrestrial globes. (1777)
Globes were traditionally made using gores – 12 or 16 shaped paper or vellum strips pasted to a sphere with ‘calottes’ or caps to cover the inevitable untidiness at the joins at the north and south pole and subsequently mounted at 23½° off the vertical to replicate earth’s tilt in space. To maintain this angle lead shot was used to balance. Some globes were manufactured to be portable whereby they can be disassembled in 48 pieces.
Modern self-supporting globes use sections that bear very little resemblance to the elegant gore. The traditional skill of globe making has been revived recently by Greaves & Thomas a small company specialising in the production of all manner of globes “spanning cartographic history from 1492 to the present day”.
The Bodleian has never restricted itself to collecting justbooks and manuscripts. Indeed it was Sir Thomas Bodley who purchased a pair of extravagantly expensive terrestrial and celestial Molyneux globes (1592) and subsequently bemoaned the fact they were getting ‘slurred’ (smudged) and so their upkeep would become a continuous charge. This proved to be the case as the Bodleian accounts show payments made to the joiner in 1629, 1636 and in 1644 for mending one or other of the globes. This pair was discarded in favour of a pair of Blaeu globes which can be seen on a contemporary print by David Loggan of Duke Humfrey’s Library in 1675. It appears these were also rejected in favour of a more modern (and smaller) pair of John Senex globes dating from 1728. It is this pair which reside in the Rare Books and Manuscript Reading Room of the Weston Library. .
Today globes are more likely to be found as blow ups, pop ups or large installations.
Examples of this more public structure can be found in Boston, Massachusetts as the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library and De Lorme’s Eartha globe in Yarmouth, Maine but equally the inflatable globe functions well as a ball on a beach. ‘Three dimensional atlases’ are now being published as pop ups of hemispheres, illustrating text wonderfully for younger readers. Miniature globes were regarded as children’s toys with some educational value but the most peculiar is the ostrich egg. Sadly the Bodleian does not possess one of these wonderful objects but given its delicate structure it is only a decorative piece.
Mapparium photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/2dhfXcJ
Egg photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bellerby_%26_Co_Egg_Globe_Commission.jpg
On days like this it is a real privilege to do my job. This rather lovely manuscript map from around 1795 has been recently purchased to enrich our holdings of large scale parish maps and estate plans but a happy time was spent cataloguing it.
The map is of part of the parishes of Berwick and Alciston north west of Eastbourne in East Sussex showing the lands belonging to “Jn. Fuller Esq.” This gentleman known at the time as “Mad Jack” Fuller (although he preferred “Honest John” Fuller) inherited his estate, Rose Hill, from his uncle in 1777. It is lands attached to this estate, which is now Brightling Park, which feature on the map.
Unfortunately the surveyor is not known nonetheless it is a pretty thing with beautiful penmanship and little vignettes of people and items likely to be found on the land. The little details are charming: the field gates are drawn in as is a view of the church and the compass rose is embellished with gilt. The lands belonging to “Mad Jack” are numbered to a key giving field names and acreages with the remaining parcels of land having their owners names and areas scribed on them. The scale of approximately 1:10,000 (6” to 1 mile) is large enough to show the area in reasonable detail. It was obviously a working document as you can see many later corrections and additions in pencil, as well as the surveyor’s grid. The fact that it has been produced on parchment also point to the fact it was heavily used, as paper wouldn’t be up to the task.
John Fuller was born into a wealthy family of iron makers and politicians in Hampshire in 1757 and initially forged a career in a light infantry company in the Sussex Militia. He subsequently spent two spells in parliament as an MP, the first representing Southampton from 1780 to 1784 and then as member for Sussex from 1801 to 1812. A noted drunk, he was famous for his eccentricities and follies and even received permission to build a 20ft high pyramid as a tomb in the churchyard of St Thomas à Becket in Brightling. In later life he turned to philanthropy, supporting among others the young Michael Faraday and the Royal Institution. He died in April 1834 and was buried beneath his pyramid folly.
A survey of lands lying in ye parishes of Berwick and Alciston in the county of Sussex belonging to Jn. Fuller Esq. Rose Hill
MS. C17:58 (114)
First day back at work (happy new year btw) made more enjoyable by cataloguing and adding to the collection a set of U.S. Army relief maps of the British Isles.
sheet NO 30-10 covering the Grampians and Ben Nevis
Produced by the Army Map Service of the United States in1956 the plastic sheets have been pressed onto a raised model thus creating a relief image. On the back of the sheet you get the image in reverse. Due to the cut-off for heights shown in relief there are a number of sheets covering the Central and Southern parts of England that have no raised relief at all. Here is the reverse of the Isle of Arran. Relief maps such as these are a joy to look at but troublesome to store, as they can’t take too much weight on them for obvious reasons. Given a normal shelf mark for maps of the British Isles this interesting series will be stored in a box to protect the sheets from being damaged. All together there are 38 sheets at a scale of 1:250,000.
When joined together (as well as possible due to the large marginalia, and with the top north-eastern part missing) Ireland looks like this
While when photographed in profile the coast and peninsulas of Cork looks like this
Britain’s highest peaks are all represented; Sca Fell Pike (978 metres/3,209 feet), Ben Nevis (1,345m/4,411ft), Snowdon (1,085 m/3,560ft) and Carrauntoohil (1,038 m/3,407ft)
while other famous hills and ranges also feature, such as the Cullin Hills of Skye
and the smaller but impressive due to their high position in a low-lying area, Malverns
British Isles, Series M5216P, 1956. C15 (68)