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A Fine Pair of Matching, English Library Globes
Mounted in Traditional Style
THOMAS MALBY & SON [London, 1877]
Malby’s Terrestrial Globe Compiled from the lates & Most Authentic Sources...
[With] Malby’s Celestial Globe, Exhibiting the whole of the Stars Contained in the Catalogues of Piazzi, Bradley, Hevelius, Mayer.
18-inches in diameter; 40-inches total height. 12 original-colored, lithographed gores & two polar calottes mounted on plaster-covered wooden sphere. In original, three-legged, maple (?) stand with original compass supported on three stretchers in base; compass glass, needle & card also all original; minor wear to stand; original steel meridian with brass fittings at poles; horizon ring with slight wear; globe surface clear, bright & largely unmarred; few small repaired crack at north pole, restored area in northern Scandinavia, western U. S. & rotational abrasion in antipodes with scattered wear; withal excellent condition, uncommonly vibrant and clear.
A beautifully preserved pair of matching English floor globes of considerable cartographic interest. The Malby firm was one of the few that carried on the production of finely crafted English globes into the latter part of the 19th century. Thus, this pair is made in the traditional style with handsomely made wooden stands with compasses in the bases. The careful craftsmanship extended to the quite up-to-date maps on the globes, which are precisely and clearly engraved throughout. To underscore the globes’ seriousness of purpose, it is noted that they were issued “under the superintendance of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.” As its name suggests, this progressive English organization, founded in 1826, sought to make educational materials available to the wider populace regardless of class.
Some of the most interesting and current geography on the terrestrial globe is in Africa, where knowledge gleaned from then recent explorations can be seen in central and southern Africa. Lake Victoria is clearly shown as the source of the Nile. It is not clear whether this was based on Speke’s sighting of the lake in 1858 and his subsequent speculation that it was the Nile’s source, or on Stanley’s 1875 circumnavigation of the lake confirming this as fact. Lake Taganyika, also first sighted by Speake, along with Burden, is also shown though not quite completely; however, it is clearly not depicted as the source of the Nile as had been thought earlier. Mount Kilimanjaro, so named in 1860, appears. Very much an artifact of the colonial period, the globe designates by letter the territories of Africa held by various European powers. It does the same for areas in the Indian Ocean, East Asia, and the South Pacific.
The globe’s cartography of the United States is also quite up to date. Colorado, admitted in 1876 is shown as a state; it is at least not identified as a territory. The Rocky Mountains are well delineated, and all of Texas’ primary cities are named. Both Alaska and far northern Canada are very well detailed with an ample Northwest Passage clearly shown. Alaska, acquired from Russia in 1867, appears to be shown as a U. S. possession on the globe: it is not called Russian Alaska and the original name for the island of Sitka, site of the only American settlement at the time, is given, along side the Russian name of the island, New Archangel. “Port Salisbury” appears in the area of present-day Juneau.
Five of six of Australia’s then Crown Colonies are shown as established; they are listed below the continent in table entitled “Australian Epocha.” The most recent noted is Queensland, established 1859. The entire Australian coastline is rich in place names, and the cartography appears to be quite up to date. Various South Polar explorations are identified, with fragments of the Antarctic coastline shown. The globe is especially well detailed in the area of the South Pacific with an unusually large number of islands named. Also in the South Pacific are tables providing the populations of the nations of the world and other demographic statistics.
Many globes of this period still showed antiquated tracks of voyages of discovery that were often as much as 100 years old. Malby, on the other hand, is credited with introducing on to globes the delineation of lines of magnetic variation throughout the earth’s surface in an attempt to enhance their utility.
The celestial globe also demonstrates the innovativeness of the Malby firm. In an effort to reconcile a modern, scientific presentation of the constellations with the traditional graphic depictions of them that used classical and other kinds of imagery, the firm developed an ingenious solution that can be seen here. With a second stone, the gores were printed in red with faint, pointillist images of the traditional images for the constellations. These images have a ghostly character and practically remain hidden until one focuses closely on them, thus giving the impression of being faintly in the background of the stars printed on the globe. It is almost as if the globe is attempting to replicate the perceptual and imaginative leap that originally conjured many of these images. The globe’s stars were drawn from the catalogues of Piazzi, Bradley, Hevelius, Mayer, la Caille, Johnson, Herschel and Struve, as compiled by J. Addison, and are configured to year 1870.
The Malby firm was founded by Thomas Malby Senior in about 1839; he was succeeded by his son and grandson, both also named Thomas. Dekker says that after 1860, Malby’s globes may have been re-issued by Edward Stanford, though there is no indication that this was the case with these globes. On the other hand, it is not known how long the third Thomas Malby remained in the globe business. The firm produced globe pairs in three sizes, this set being an example of the largest.
Cf. Dekker, Globes at Greenwich, pp. 404-05 (this pair not in the Greenwich collection).
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