This delightful stand-alone celestial globe rests on four sturdy columned legs, with pretty gilt grooves, supported by four cross stretchers, and round turned feet. There is a graduated brass meridian ring and an engraved brass hour ring, and a matching hour indicator. There is an informative and attractive paper horizon ring, with a set of graduated concentric circles detailing the signs of the zodiac, the months of the year, wind directions, and the names of the prevailing trade winds (in French). The globe displays wonderfully well the illustrative zodiac signs and the heavenly constellations, and their relative positions in the night skies, both north and south of the equator. There is an attractive circular ‘with privilege’ cartouche, which reads as follows: Avec Privilege et Approbation de Mr. de l’Academ. Rle des Sces. APARIS chez Lattre Grav. Ordinire de M. le Dauphin et de M. le Duc d’Orleans. Roughly translated: “With Privilege and Approval of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris at the house of the engraver ordinary Lattre to the Dauphin and the Duke of Orleans.” The general condition of this globe is excellent. The papier-mache gores have been cleaned and re-varnished, which now allows you to recognize fully the beauty, detail, and the undoubted quality of the engraving and to appreciate the original hand colouring. There has been some re-touching to the outer horizon ring, now coloured in red.
Including the oak stand the globe has a height of 56 cm. (22 inches).
Among the beautifully illustrated constellations there are those that are listed as ‘ancient’ – (48) identified by the second-century astronomer Ptolemy; and those that are those listed as ‘modern’ – (88) by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Listed here are some seen in the northern hemisphere: La Baleine (Cetus – The Whale) constellation, which lies close to the other water-related constellations of Aquarius, Pisces, and Eridan. Le Belier (Aires the Ram) another zodiac constellation; Les Poissons (Pisces) represented as a distant pair of fishes connected by one cord each that join at an apex); Camelopardalis, represented by a camel; Ursa Major, represented by the Great Bear – its associated mythology probably dates back to prehistory; Cassiopeia, from Greek mythology, and Leo, represented by a Lion, a zodiac constellation.
Some seen in the southern hemisphere: Le Vaisseau, (the ship); Le Bon Volant (the flying fish); La Bossole (the compass), and the small Scutum constellation, represented by the Sobieski Shield. Scutum is name is Latin for the shield, and it was originally named ‘Scutum Soblescianum’ by Johannes Hevelius in 1684. He named it for Jan III Sobieski, a Polish king who led his armies to victory in the Battle of Vienna.
In addition, there are the equatorial and ecliptic rings, both graduated in 360 degrees. NOTES: At the outset of the 17th century, it was a widely held practice to sell globes in pairs, one celestial and one terrestrial. For most of the time, both have the same diameter and are mounted on a similar base. It was only from the 19th century that the production of terrestrial globes became largely predominant and that of celestial globes became scarcer. Initially, the globes serve as supplementary instruments for astronomical calculations and observation. Later, the standardisation of the representation of the earth and the sky becomes essential. The early celestial globes result from the vision of the firmament: the stars positioned on a large sphere, within which take place the earth, the sun, the moon, and the planets. The stars are then distributed by constellations, which bear the names that come to us from mythology, very often drawn with so much colour and detail that it sometimes becomes difficult to distinguish them.
The construction of the globes begins with the manufacture of the axis, a wooden cylinder rod, on which we place a simply sanded plaster sphere. The mirror image of the elements of the map is engraved on a copper plate, which requires great skill because the transposition is done in a dozen segments, which must be perfectly adjusted on the surface of the globe. The sphere is then mounted on a ring-meridian, attached to the axis of the poles and comprising graduation in degrees. Finally, this unit is fixed on a wooden support, which makes it possible to place the meridian ring at a particular angle and above all to make the sphere turn around its axis. DESIGN & PRODUCTION OF GLOBES IN FRANCE: In June and the July of 1666, the first scientists of the future Academy of Sciences to meet are astronomers, in order to observe the solar and moon eclipse from the garden of the Colbert hotel, on the rue Vivienne in Paris. The Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris attracts many foreign artists to the capital, such as the astronomer of Bologna, Jean-Dominique Cassini, who will direct the Observatory from 1671 until the end of his life. Many of the maps published at this time are “drawn in accordance with the observations of these gentlemen of the Academy”, a true pledge of scientific
legitimacy! We then see the beginning of a royal policy of support for scientific movements, which are by then fast multiplying throughout Europe. The sovereign thus adds to his glory, the reputation of being the most modern monarch of his time. In the second half of the 18th century, an increase in explorations due to the age-old rivalry with England led the French to the Pacific. Economic and military interests dominate, which has the consequence of involving scientists in undertakings of a clearly political nature.
The complete infatuation of good society for the sciences in the 18th century is now an established fact. Some scholars are received in the salons of the capital and wealthy amateurs set up cabinets housing a number of instruments and other beautiful “machines”, thus promoting the emergence of a new market, that of scientific ostentation. The production of globes develops and is renewed regularly as and when discoveries are made. JOSEPH JEROME LEFRANCOIS de LALANDE (1732-1807): De Lalande was a French astronomer, freemason, and writer.
Lalande’s parents sent him to Paris to study law, but as a result of lodging in the Hôtel Cluny, where Delisle had his observatory, he was drawn to astronomy and became the zealous and favoured pupil of both Delisle and Pierre Charles Monnier.
Here are a few of the awards and recognition were given to him.
• In 1765, Lalande was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
• In 1781, he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
• His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
• The crater LaLande on the Moon is named after him.
Historically, globes are among the most ancient scientific instruments known to man. They can be dated back over two millennia, and are still manufactured to this day. The earliest tradition of globe making is mainly concerned with celestial globes – man has always been fascinated and drawn to the heavens above. Celestial globes have always enjoyed a precedent of terrestrial globes. In fact, doubts about the feasibility of a terrestrial globe were firmly expressed by the Greek geographer Strabo; who wrote that such a globe would only make sense if its diameter were approximately 10 feet, presumably because only then could it furnish sufficient geographical detail! The great second-century Egyptian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and geographer, Claudius Ptolemy also considered the large size of a globe to be somewhat of an obstacle and noted a further shortcoming of a terrestrial globe – that one could not view the whole world on it a single glance. As a result, terrestrial globes were not as popular until much later.
The real beauty of globes is that they can be considered to be “all things to all men”; to some, they are useful and practical educational tools, (3D maps perhaps); to some others as beautiful and useful scientific instruments; and to more, they may be seen purely as decorative, beautiful pieces of furniture; to be envied and enjoyed, but more importantly, and above all, to be admired by all.