A Matched Pair of Globes: Cary’s New Terrestrial Globe, circa. 1816

circa 1816
63.5 cm H
43 cm D
$96,000 for the pair

Pair of 12-inch table globes (305 mm diameter; overall diameter 430 mm and height overall 635 mm); each made up from twelve sets of gores; complete with graduated brass meridian circles and hourly dials; within wooden baluster brackets, each with calendar and zodiac markings, on original mahogany stands with turned mahogany columns and tripod cabriole legs, original compasses mounted at bases.

Pair of Globes: Cary’s New Terrestrial Globe, delineated from the best authorities extant. Exhibiting the late discoveries towards the North Pole and every improvement in Geography to the present time. [&] Cary’s New Celestial Globe on which are correctly laid down upwards of 3,500 stars. Selected from the most accurate observations and calculated for the year 1800. With the extent of each Constellation precisely defined by Mr. Gilpin of the Royal Society. (London, J. and W. Cary, Strand, 1821 (terrestrial); G. & J. Cary, 86 St James’s Street, 1816 (celestial).

Ref: 4505208

A most attractive matched pair of original Regency period table globes, terrestrial and celestial, made by the leading London cartographic firm. The Cary family of cartographers and globe makers produced some of the greatest globes of the late Georgian era. The firm was started in London in the late 18th century by John Cary (c.1754-1835), an engraver and dealer in maps who often worked in partnership with his brother William Cary (c.1760-1825), who specialised in making scientific instruments; the terrestrial globe here is marked as published by that partnership from their St James’s Street address where they moved in about 1820, leaving their successors, John Cary’s sons George (c.1788-1859) and John Jr. (1791–1852) who produced the celestial globe here, at the original premises at 181 Strand where they traded as G. & J. Cary until about 1850. The pair of globes now offered was thus created by the two main branches of the great family firm.

For two generations Cary globes represented the high-water mark of nineteenth-century mapping. John Cary was the preeminent map maker of his generation, described by his biographer Sir Herbert Fordham as ‘the most prominent and successful exponent of his time… the founder of what we may call the modern English school’. He was famous for his insistence upon absolute geographical accuracy and was considered ‘a member of a new class of mapmaker, concentrating on geographical excellence rather than on decoration…’ (Lister).

The terrestrial globe is detailed and shows the routes of the major explorers across the globe including La Pérouse and Vancouver as well as all three of Cook’s voyages, while Cook’s death and Clerke taking over the expedition’s command are marked in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). To the SW the Minerva Reefs are marked with the legend “shoal seen by the Cornwallis 1807”. In the north Phipps, Gore, Vancouver and Ross (taking the story told to 1820) are all shown with detailed tracks marked. The equator and the ecliptic are marked and graduated, and the meridian of Greenwich is shown.

The celestial globe includes all the figures of the constellations, and illustrates current knowledge of the stars and constellations of the Southern Hemisphere, including the discoveries of Edmund Halley and Abbé de Lacaille. The equator and the ecliptic are marked and graduated. The figures representing the constellations (scientific instruments, mythical creatures, animals) are finely detailed in black on the cream ground and lightly coloured in greens and browns.

It is rare today to find matching pairs of early globes in complete, near fine original condition, although originally they were almost always sold in this way. An equivalent pair is noted by Van der Krogt at the Rijksmueum, Amsterdam (‘Old Globes in the Netherlands’, ref: Car 3 & 4) though the terrestrial globe in that pair is of a slightly later issue dated 1823.

Condition: Light crack at top of terrestrial globe (as is common) and another barely visible crack at centre neatly made good; the pair of globes in excellent overall condition with good original colour showing some occasional age browning.

Bibliography: British Map Engravers, pp. 130-3.


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