October 2005 archive

Tracking John Glenn’s orbit…

The other night my wife was painting a wall and had to take the globes off the top of the hutch to move the hutch. As I sat at the table amusing our daughter with one of the globes, I did a bit of a double-take…. and then found myself quite amused.  The globe in question is an older 9" Ohio Scientific metal globe of the type primarily meant for kids.  I’m not particular fond of these Ohio Scientific globes, actually.  Their cartography isn’t overly accurate (I’m sorry, but India does not look like that!), the colors bleed a bit and the lines vary in width – at least with the two that I have.  They were probably cheap, mass-produced globes and who knows, the printing on metal may have been advanced for their time.  They certainly are more durable than "regular" globes, but they just don’t do a whole lot for me.

However, this particular one earned a bit more interest from me.  As I sat there spinning it and pointing things out, I wondered what the three lines were that circled the globe in a curious pattern.  On closer examination, next to one of the lines I found the word’s "GLENN’S ORBITAL FLIGHT" and indeed I could then see that the lines did track John Glenn‘s February 1962 flight. Obviously, this helps date the globe, but it’s also just such a sign of a bygone era in so many ways. Today, when space launches by so many nations have become so routine (but obviously still dangerous), it’s hard to think back to a time when space travel was such a enormous interest that a globe manufacturer would actually put it on a globe! (But then again, if they were cheap and easy to produce, why not…)

After I noticed this, I did see a couple of others on e-bay with similar patterns. One even had icons of the space capsule on the orbital lines. (No, I didn’t buy any.) Interesting objects from a different era…

Scoring a Weber-Costello on e-bay

Webercostello_1Last night I went on e-bay for the first time in a few weeks and saw a very nice Weber-Costello globe up for sale.  The price was right (i.e. low) and the globe has to be from the 50s or earlier, given that Weber-Costello stopped making globes in that timeframe.  In the pictures on e-bay it seemed to be in good condition. I did win the auction and now I’m very much looking forward to the delivery.  The seller has confirmed that it’s been shipped… so now it’s just a waiting game…

Resources for dating globes

Helpbooksajsvg_aj_ash_01Whenever you look at a globe, you always face the immediate problem of not being able to simply determine the age of the globe.  For whatever reason, globe manufacturers usually do not put dates on their globes.  Very occasionally, you might find one with a date near the legend or manufacturer logo, but it is a rarity. 

Instead, one usually must resort to the game of "find the country name/border change that most accurately estimates the date".  For instance, if the globe shows the "Soviet Union", it’s at least earlier than 1991.  If it shows "Rhodesia" instead of "Zimbabwe" it is from before 1980.  If it shows "French West Africa" occupying a significant part of the African continent, it was made before 1960.  If Israel isn’t there, it’s pre-1948.  You get the idea.

It’s actually rather fun.  I personally usually start off looking for the USSR or a divided Germany and then typically start looking at Africa or southeast Asia as those areas have experienced the greatest change in recent decades.  Some great resources to help in dating globes are available from:

The latter two are obviously particularly useful if you have a Replogle or Cram globe.  By the way, the first site I mentioned, 20thcenturyglobes.com is a great general resource for people looking to learn more about US globes from the early to mid-20th century.  The site maintainer, Carolyn Burrell, has done a great job collecting information from that era. 

Other globe collectors are welcome to post here…

As part of my continued exploration of TypePad, I wouldn’t mind experimenting with multiple authors participating in a weblog, so if you are a collector of globes and would be interested in contributing posts here, feel free to contact me at "dyork at Lodestar2 dot com" and I can set you up to post.

Scanglobe Geographer added to the collection

GeographerAlso at Delorme’s headquarters, I picked up a Replogle "Geographer" globe primarily on the basis that it looked very cool and different from all the other globes I have.  It was also nice to see that it was actually from Scanglobe, even though that is now simply another brand under Replogle.  You could tell, though, that the integration of the companies isn’t all that complete.  The Geographer was inside a box with a dry-erase marker, a brief generic description of the features of your globe – and that was it.  No mention of why the dry erase marker was in there… or anything else about this particular globe.

Searching through Replogle’s web site, I was able to find out that this is a globe that you can mark up  and then erase.  Primary target seems to be for the educational market which makes sense.  Pretty neat globe, although it would be nice if they told you more about it in the box when you bought it.