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The Epoch Times

Exploring the Appeal of Rare Globes: Antique Cartography Appeals to Collectors

THE EPOCH TIMES, March 16, 2011--

What is it about globes that fascinate people and collectors? Is it their perfectly round shape? Is it the real and far-away places they take you? Is it the imaginary places they invite you to dream about?

Whatever the reason, celestial and terrestrial (earth) globes have captured our attention for centuries.

Before GPS systems, airplanes, and detailed Rand McNally maps were available, globes provided a visual map for men conquering the world. After a long siege at sea, think of the thrill of running your fingers over all the continents, land masses, and bodies of water where your conquest had taken you.

For Bill Rau, owner of Rau Antiques in the New Orleans French Quarter, globes give a snapshot in time and a historical perspective of territories and skies from another era.

"There were two great globe makers who dominated the 18th century globe market, renowned cartographers John Newton & Son and J & W Cary," explained Rau." Expert cartographers rendered continents in painstaking detail. Over time, discoveries of new lands plus a greater understanding of geography by modern day scientists and geologists make these globes incredibly rare and special for any collector," Rau continued.

Terrestrial globes represent the perfect shape of a sphere and our planet Earth. As for antique celestial globes, also rendered in a spherical shape, space discovery proves that the galaxy isn't contained in a spherical shape.

'Global Obsession'

Nowadays, globes aren't just used as decorative objects. They pop up in a variety of other uses-from lamps to desks to paperweights.

For Bill Rau, this "global obsession" took on a new twist when a private client recently asked him to design and make a special globe using an antique map that he cherished. Bill Rau, always ready to go the extra step for a customer, approached an exclusive English globe maker to have this globe made.

Two of the more major globes available at Rau Antiques are the J & W Cary globes from 1816 ($125,000), which are a pair of terrestrial and celestial landscapes produced in a special 18-inch size that was rarely replicated. The voyages of two of the world's greatest captains, Cook and Vancouver, are charted on the surface, including detailed maps of the stars and constellations.

Suspended on mahogany pedestals, these two J & W Cary globes feature a varnished papier-mâché map surface, brass meridian rings, and horizon rings that carry monthly and astrological calendars. Accurate compasses are imbedded in the pedestals-a nice touch for such a stately pair of spheres.

Another very remarkable pair of table globes in the Rau Antiques inventory were crafted in 1728 by Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr of Nuremberg, Germany ($185,000). Both Doppelmayr globes were made for scientific uses, but they are highly decorative as well-proving the point that globes of this caliber were recognized as priceless objets d'art.

Numerous portraits of famous explorers, such as Amerigo Vespucci, Magelhaens, Olivier van Noort, Dampier, and Columbus, are on the terrestrial Doppelmayr globe. The Great Wall of China is drawn and labeled in pictorial relief, as are towns, cities, coastal ports, rivers, mountains, and forests. The celestial globe in the Doppelmayr pair is just as elaborate.

For modern-day globetrotters seeking the truly unique, consider Morgan & Sanders's English Regency globe desk in mahogany wood. The leather-lined interior even has a tilting desk element for writing on a slant.

For more details about these and other rare globes, visit


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