National Library acquires rare globes

National Library acquires rare globes
21 March 2012

In a first for an Australian collecting institution, two pairs of rare floor globes have been acquired by the National Library of Australia.

The two pairs of terrestrial and celestial globes, purchased from a New York gallery, were produced between 1799 and 1825 by leading globe-makers of the time, J&W Cary. One of the large terrestrial globes has just been installed in the National Library’s new Treasures Gallery.  It shows the tracks of discovery by James Cook and others.

 Curator of Maps at the National Library, Dr Martin Woods, said the acquisition was significant because the presence of such globes in Australian collecting institutions was uncommon.

 ‘Because of the decorative nature of globes, more are held in private hands than in public institutions,’ Dr Woods said. ‘Globes hold a particular fascination for most people – the representation of the Earth in its true shape. 

 ‘While originally designed as on-board tools to calculate latitude, or to educate people about geography and astronomy, the larger globes in particular were seen as status symbols.’

 Dr Woods said the larger pair of globes was particularly significant because the Australian mainland was named ‘Australia’ – the first such globe to adopt the name after its approval by the British Government in 1824.

 The cartography of the celestial globe, manufactured in 1799, is taken from the work of Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed and William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus, among others. The pair of smaller globes, made in 1800, feature the Australian mainland named as New Holland. ‘Although Cook’s NSW is incorporated, a speculative south coast is drawn prior to the explorations of Flinders and Bass,’ Dr Woods said.

  High-res images of the Director-General Anne-Marie Schwirtlich and Martin Woods with the globes are available.

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