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4 of the Most Important Globe Makers in History

4. James Wilson

wilson celestial globeJames Wilson brought globe making to the Americas. He was the first globe maker in the United States. At the end of the 18th century, Wilson taught himself cartography after buying an encyclopedia. He got his start making maps for children. However, after seeing Dartmouth College's collection of European globes, he started making his own spherical models. He mastering copper engraving from studying under an expert and opened America's first globe factory in 1813 . There, Wilson and made his first production globe, which he sold for $50. His models turned out to be very commercially successful, and he started expanding his line to include celestial and terrestrial globes. Making products from papier-mâché, Wilson was able to sell his globes for an affordable price, opening up the market to both homes and schools. Wilson globes remain highly sought after, and many have survived history to live on to this day.


3. Martin Behaim

ErdapfelMartin Behaim, the German explorer, artist, scientist, philosopher and geographer, also made the oldest surviving world globe, the Erdapfel. Teaming up with the painter Georg Glockendon in Nuremberg, the renaissance man, who may have helped discover the Straits of Magellan, crafted this historic globe around 1491-1493. The globe is full of geographic inaccuracies even for the time. Western Africa is represented incorrectly, and the globe makers filled the Atlantic with a handful of mythological islands. The globe was created just before Christopher Columbus discovered America, and as a result, it represents likely what Columbus thought the world looked like when he set sail from Europe to stumble upon a previously unknown continent to his home. The Erdapfel globe is currently being housed in the German National Museum.



2. Vincenzo Coronelli

coronelli_editedVincenzo Coronelli, another renaissance man, was a monk of the Franciscan order, cartographer, encyclopedest and cosmographer in addition to being an esteemed globe maker. After studying astronomy and Euclid, Coronelli become employed as a geographer. In 1677, Ranuccio II Farnese, the Duke of Parma commissioned the monk to make two globes that were five feet in diameter each. After a powerful Cardinal saw the terrestrial and celestial globe Coronelli crafted, the monk was then commissioned to make a pair of even larger globes for the King of France, Louis XIV. These globes, which are over 12 feet each in diameter and weighed 2 tons a piece, are still showcased to this day. After he finished those masterpieces, Coronelli became in high demand amongst the upper class to craft custom globes.



1. Gerardus Mercator

mercator-terrestrialGerardus Mercator, inventor of perhaps the most important and controversial map projection, the Mercator projection, also made globes when he was not busy being a famous philosopher and mathematician. This titan of geography coined the term "atlas" for a book of maps. Mercator, highly skilled at engraving, collaborated with his mentor Gemma Frisius (another important globe maker) and Gaspar Van Der Heyden on a terrestrial globe in 1535. After that, Mercator started making his own maps and globes throughout the 16th century. Today, 22 pairs (matching celestial and terrestrial models) of his globes still exist, and are housed in Museums and private collections around the world. He was the most influential globe maker of his time, succeeding Frisius in that honor, and today, both his maps and globes are highly sought after. Every cartographer and geographer since the 1500's has stood on the shoulders of Mercator's achievements in both map and globe making.

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