George III Pocket Globe and Case
George III Pocket Globe and Case
George III Pocket Globe and Case
This pocket globe consists of a terrestrial sphere contained within a spherical case. The sphere is made of papier-mâché and plaster and has metal axis pins extending through both poles. The globe consists of twelve paper gores that are copper-engraved, hand-coloured and varnished, with the equinoctial graduated in degrees and hours and the ecliptic graduated in days. The globe bears the inscription: ‘CARY’S Pocket GLOBE; agreeable to the latest DISCOVERIES’ and states that it was ‘Publ. by J & W Cary, Strand, Apr 1 1791’. This pocket globe shows the world as it was known in 1791. Geographical details include: labels for ‘New Albion’ and ‘United States’ in America; the south coast of Australia (labelled ‘New Holland’) is dotted, as it was still uncertain; and markings for the site of the ‘Antipodes of London’. A number of voyages are recorded with dotted lines, including James Cook’s three voyages and the recording of Cook’s place of death.

The spherical case is made of wood covered externally with black sharkskin and consists of two hemispheres hinged with two metal hook and eye clasps. Rather than adhering to the usual pocket globe convention of including a celestial sphere on the inside of the case, both of the hemispheres are lined with paper gores, the first half of hemisphere showing a terrestrial image of the world as it was known in antiquity, described as ‘The WORLD as known in CAESAR’S Time agreeable to D’Anville’. In the other hemisphere, there is ‘A TABLE OF Latitudes & Longitudes of Places not given on this GLOBE’, with numerous place names arranged in a geometric grid in four quadrants with geographical coordinates.

John and William Cary – ‘J. & W. Cary’: The celebrated Cary family of cartographers and globe makers was founded by John Cary (c.1754-1835), a map engraver and seller. At the age of 15, John Cary, the son of a Wiltshire maltster, was apprenticed to William Palmer. In 1778 he became a freeman, and plied his trade of engraving and map making. John Cary began the engraving and map-selling business from about 1782 at Johnson’s Court, Fleet St, London, before moving to The Corner of Arundel St Strand. In 1791, he founded the family globe making business in cooperation with his brother William Cary (1759-1825). John was an engraver and businessman, and William was primarily an optician and nautical instrument maker, having been apprenticed to Jesse Ramsden.

The first globes by the Cary brothers were advertised in the ‘Traveller’s Companion’ in January 1791. The advertisement mentions that the 3.5 inch, 9 inch, 12 inch and 21 inch diameter terrestrial and celestial globes were made from ‘entire new plates’. For a new firm making globes this would have been of great significance, at a time when copper plates for gores were commonly bought or inherited. At this time, the company’s address was 181 the Strand, and was commonly known as J & W Cary. Both brothers produced a number of instruments and maps aside from their globes – and in all other business the brothers operated separately. The Cary brothers’ premises were at 181 The Strand, where this globe was made, until John and William moved their business to 86 St. James’s Street in c.1820.

The Cary family firm was regarded as England’s leading globe publishers from the early 1790s until its closure in 1850 and was noted for its functional maps which favoured accuracy and detail over mere decoration. They used excellent quality paper and printing techniques, and, as a result, globes such as this example have survived in good condition. In their book ‘The World In Your Hands’, Tom Lamb and Jeremy P. Collins state: ‘John Cary in partnership with his brother William were one of the foremost London map and globe sellers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They built up a thriving and prosperous business, both as instrument makers and map publishers.’ (‘The World In Your Hands’, Tom Lamb and Jeremy P. Collins (ed.) London, 1994).

Pocket globes: Pocket globes were probably produced both as novelty fashion items and as educational tools for children. Most date from the late seventeenth century to the mid nineteenth century and were particularly popular amongst the English aristocracy during a period of remarkable European voyages of world exploration.

Their small size (usually around 7.5 cm or 3 inches in diameter) made them impractical for serious study, and it is unlikely that pocket globes served precise practical ends as their size makes accurate calculations impossible and they tend to lack the rings and dials required for the most common manipulations. However, their portability and ease of handling made them perfect as both an aide memoire for the well-educated gentleman and as an educational tool for the instruction of school children in geography and astronomy in the upper class schoolroom.

Comparator: The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, has an identical version (Object ID: GLB0001).
Height 9.00 cm (3.54 inches)
Width 9.00 cm (3.54 inches)
Depth 9.00 cm (3.54 inches)
Stock Code
papier-mâché, plaster, metal, black sharkskin.
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

Thomas Coulborn & Sons
Vesey Manor
64 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QP

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