Today we’re so used to using the internet to plot routes for us wherever we’re travelling, or if you have no internet available, then there’s always the ‘old-fashioned’ paper maps – perish the thought! In the 18th century, there were pocket-sized maps but globes were so ‘in vogue’ that many affluent homes would own a pair – one terrestrial and one celestial.
The Georgians, as well as their love of all things pleasurable, were also fascinated by new developments in the field of science.
To depict their interest in science, many of the paintings of the day would include a globe, usually with the subject in question pointing at a globe or with one strategically placed close by.
Globes came in a variety of sizes, but the most useful ones were those of nine, twelve, eighteen and twenty-one inches in diameter and reputedly, the best makers of the day were Barding and Carey.
We came across a fascinating book online, A Companion to the Globes, by R.T Linnington, a Private Teacher, written at the end of the Georgian era, 1829, which provides the most fascinating information about globes and their uses. It was described as invaluable to both teachers and pupils. For those with an interest in the subject, we would recommend having a read through it.
In another book on the subject, A Treatise on astronomy, we came across a description of a globe being constructed by a Dr Long, Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, eighteen feet in diameter, and large enough to contain conveniently forty persons, who entered it over the south pole.
When visiting this globe in 1801, the author of the book, Olinthus Gregory says:
I cannot conclude this note without expressing the grief and disappointment I felt, on seeing this sphere in the beginning of the present year 1801. Instead of beholding the new constellation painted thereon, and tracing out many improvement since the time of Dr. Long, as I naturally expected to do; I could hardly find anything but strong tokens of long neglect, and change in the atmosphere, by reason of a large window being constantly left open, and the glass in the other windows being broken in several places : some of the constellations could scarcely be discerned, for dust and cobwebs, the planetarium had but few vestiges remaining, by which one might ascertain whether it ever existed or not; and the wires about the zodiac were, in many places corroded through with rust!!
* One of our lovely readers very kindly sent us a link to a YouTube clip about globe making – it’s well worth a look.
Featured image – Family Group by Reynolds