Riding the wave

Terrestrial Globes

Uncommon cartographic products are the terrestrial globes, the subject of renewed scientific interest and cataloging.

Already in 1893 the Italian geographer Matthew Fiorini called for the creation of a catalog of existing cosmographic globes in Italy, describing "the matter and the manner in which spheres are formed and assembled, their size, how meridians parallels are traced, the distances between them, the dates of time and place, the author's name, the artistic features, how the drawing is done, the number of strips ... if they are made of two halves. .. if they are truncated at the polar ends .... " In 1893 he published a paper on globe-manufacturing since the earliest news handed down by Strabo and Ptolemy until the sixteenth century, while in 1899, he created a catalog of 416 globes including terrestrial ones, celestial spheres, armillary spheres and strips in print, published by the 17th century.

For the past fifty years, the Internationale Coronelli-Gesellschaft für Globen und Instrumentenkunde, through its periodical Der Globusfreund and Information, has been encouraging and coordinating research and study of globes produced from the nineteenth century onwards.

The Italian Navy Hydrographic Institute has a nineteenth-century globe, particularly interesting because of its size - about 80 cm in diameter - manufactured by Carl Adami and Heinrich Kiepert, published by Dietrich Reimar Verlag in Berlin in 1883.

Dietrich Reimar Verlag joined the family firm in 1845, creating a specialized department which published the works of the most famous geographers and cartographers of his time. Globe-making was undertaken in 1852 - when the company absorbed the Adams & Co., of Carl Adami, a popular producer of terrestrial and celestial spheres - and was expanded in 1865 when they associated the geographer Heinrich Kiepert. The specimen at the Italian Navy Hydrographic Institute bears in fact the following inscription at about 50 ° to 60 ° S and about 105 ° to 135 ° longitude from the meridian of the Isle of Ferro: Erdglobus / nach dem Entwurf / v A. Adami / 1:16 500 000 in Verhaltniss von der naturlichenGrosse / Bearbeitet u. Gezeichnet / von / Dr. Heinrich Kiepert / Correcturen und Nachtrage 1883 / Dietrich Reimer / Berlin.

In the late seventies of the 19th century Dietrich Reimer produced globes of various sizes, from 10.5 cm to 80 cm in diameter, with different characteristics depending on the intended use: smooth or relief surface, vertical or inclined axis, wooden or gilted-metal or wrought-iron foot, or tripod support with horizon and scientific apparatus for calculating the geographical and celestial coordinates.

A catalog of 1905, citing the numerous awards given to his globes - which kept the names Kiepert-Adami in memory of the unanimous appreciation for the work of both geographers - outlines 54 different models. During the interwar period, production provided an additional size and continued after the Second World War, ending in 1960.

The material sphere has a pronounced polar flattening and can rotate not only around its axis but also by 180 ° with respect to the EW plane of the horizon. It is coated with 24 strips of printed paper, each corresponding to a time-zone of 15 °, cut at the equator and truncated at 85 °, where the missing part is covered by special paper discs. The predominant color is ocher-yellow, both for the land and for the seas, while inland waters are in a blue-green watercolor. The northern hemisphere is more faded and spoilt, probably because of greater consultation and exposure to bright light. The 24 meridians that correspond to the edges of the tapes are easily read, the parallels are indicated by a solid line while the tropics and the polar circles are drawn with dotted lines. Above and below the equator there are two separate graduations that proceed from 0 ° to 360 °, WE and EW direction, with the 0 on the meridian passing through the Iron Island. The Equator has a third numbering from 0 ° to 360 °, at about 17 ° 40 'E of the initial meridian, where there is written Greenwich, thereby indicating its meridian, which on the other hand was not traced.

The geographical representation is full of information, including steam-routes, indicated by dash-dot lines, while sailing routes are plotted with just dotted lines, both accompanied by the names of the places of departure and arrival. Currents appear, mostly together with their direction, name and seasonality; also the magnetic poles, indicated by an asterisk and a note; also the main telegraph lines and the most important bases for loading coal, ports equipped for ship repair, the locations of the German consulates. In the southern hemisphere there appear the names of the discoverers and the dates of their deeds, but not their routes, from the seventeenth century until the mid-nineteenth century. The coast of Antarctica is shown in part while, about 65 ° S-110 ° E and about 78 ° S-140 ° W there is written "termination land?".

Another specimen of the same globe is kept at the State Council in Rome, complete with compass for the orientation of the sphere, housed in special wooden arms stuck to the inner base of each foot of the tripod support; the sompass is missing in the globe at the Hydrographic Institute. Both are devoid of the quadrant of the heights, whose original presence seems confirmed by a large abrasion that runs along the Equator.

A comprehensive article on the globe in question, by Paola Presciuttini, was published in the Maritime Magazine (April 1987).

Galata Museum in Genoa
Federiciana Library

Monumental Coronelli globes at the Galata - Museo del Mare in Genoa and at the Federiciana Library in Fano

Celestial and Terrestrial Globes at the web-site of the Yale University Library Map Collection:


The International Coronelli Society for the Study of Globes

A repertory of the globes produced in the Netherlands, by Dr. Peter van der Krogt, eminent scholar of cartography

In Vienna, at the National Library, was established in 1956, the Globe Museum, unique in the world, with over 380 terrestrial globes, armillary spheres and celestial spheres

Everything about old maps and charts in the web and in libraries, with over 3500 extensively annotated links [in English] to the Internet and to basic texts, in the site of Tony Campbell
www.maphistory.info / index.html

Paola Presciuttini, 2002