This extraordinarily rare terrestrial table globe was crafted by Dutch cartographer Gerard Valk, who is considered to be the only significant publisher of globes in the Netherlands in the 18th century. Called a cosmotheore, this globe is an instrument of exceptional importance, and gives a detailed picture of the earth’s land masses and bodies of water as they were currently understood. Drawn from the latest information known at the time, this sphere displays intricately drawn and named geographical features, as well as important landmarks, ports and even Native American tribes. What is especially notable is that the outline of the Pacific Northwest, from the western part of present-day Alaska to the eastern most reaches of Russia, is unfinished and labeled “Terra Incognita,” as mapmakers’ knowledge of the region was quite vague at this time. While many globemakers were crafting globes using information that was about 50 years out of date, Valk drew entirely new plates for his globe, based on information received from Paris. This new data was received around 1700, making this globe, quite literally, a cutting-edge piece of 18th-century technology. A very similar globe is featured in Globes from the Western World by Elly Dekker and Peter van der Krogt.
During the age of exploration, terrestrial globes were essential business tools, as well symbols of prosperity and business acumen. They not only served as useful geographical references, they also attested to their owner’s familiarity with current developments in exploration, as well as to his financial investment in maritime trade. As the Dutch were particularly keen participants in both of these endeavors, it is appropriate that this globe is among the most precise we have ever seen.
The globe is held within it original stand on four turned legs and features a cartouche that reads: “Cosmotheore, Clesti nostro Globo, Par, et plan Novs, Hic Terrestris t existeret; Certo scias: Errore Veterum Sublat, Non tantum Utriusque Orbis Longitudines ac Latitudines, Per reiteratas Neotericorum Observationes Hicc esse restitutas; Set et nullum typis Emendatiorem prodiisse, Ho igitur Novissim tam diu fruere, Donec, sub Majori forma, Me aere Alios excudam Gerardus Valk Calcographus; Amsteldami, A.1700. Cum Privilegio.”
15” wide x 9” diameter x 15 ½” high
Gerard Valk, or Gerard Leendertz Valck (1652-1726) was, together with his son Leonard, the only significant publisher of globes in the Netherlands in the eighteenth century, and enjoyed an almost total monopoly in the first few decades of that century. Initially an engraver and art dealer, Valk established his firm in Amsterdam in 1687 in co-operation with his brother-in-law Petrus Schenk and began by publishing maps and atlases. The Netherlands had, in the previous century, been the main centre of globe-production in Europe, with the masters Blaeu and Hondius issuing some of the finest and most beautiful globes ever made. Valk rose above other Dutch makers by creating globes that were both beautiful and accurate, using data that was actually up-to-date.