The World In Your Hand

Regular readers of Travel Between The Pages are well aware of my fascination with maps and globes. Digital cartography is wonderful, but there is nothing like an old fashioned physical map or globe.

I have long been intrigued by pocket globes, the colorful, world-in-miniature creations of 17th- to 19th- century cartographers. More than simply trinkets, the 3-inch art objects are artifacts of the age of exploration.

The tiny globes were crafted between 1700 and 1900 in Europe and the U.S. and are made of everything from ivory to papier-mache. The largest can fit in the palm of your hand. The smallest, in the center of your palm. Many feature a tiny globe covered in vellum, with continents and countries painted in delicate colors. They typically came in a wooden box and often featured a spindle.

Tiny globes were not serious scientific objects but artistic ones, with the continents and countries outlined in different colors, complete with place names, tiny paintings of fanciful animals or zodiac signs in the ones with constellations in their shells. Simpler models were toys for children, meant to demonstrate how the globe spun and the placement of continents.


This entry was posted in Art, Europe, History, Maps, Museums, Uncategorized, USA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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