Articles on globes and related instruments in the Whipple Museum's collection

The articles in this section discuss globes or related instruments in the Whipple Museum's collection. Browse the articles using the links below or on the menu to the left of the page.

Jigsaw puzzle pieces assembled into the shape of a globe
Image 1 Jigsaw puzzle globe by Ch. Kapp, designed as a toy that would help children to learn about the continents of the world, 19th century. Image © the Whipple Museum (Wh.4608).

A brief history of globes. People have used globes to model the world around them since ancient times, although the earliest surviving globe dates from 1492. This article surveys globe manufacture and use from the 16th through to the 20th century.

An immobile globe. Unlike other globes, this 17th century example was not designed to spin around on its axis; it is a rare example of an immobile globe. It represents the earth as stationary, following the Ptolemaic system, to make practical calculations with the globe easier.

Dissectable paper globes. To liven up children's geography lessons, Edward Mogg designed inexpensive cardboard globes that could be taken to pieces. By building the globes for themselves, these globes encouraged children to learn through doing things with their hands as well as their minds.

Jigsaw puzzle globe. This educational children's toy is a jigsaw puzzle in the shape of a globe (Image 1). Its depictions of the continents and their peoples reflect the colonial attitudes of the 19th century, favouring Europe as the centre of learning and culture on the globe.

Japanese star globe. Constellations have been inked by hand onto this lightweight paper globe, following the traditional Chinese 'jia' (houses) of astronomy. Its portable nature indicates it may be a teaching instrument or a prototype for a more luxurious globe.

Pocket-sized globes. Globes that were small enough to fit into a pocket arrived in England in the 1660s. Too small to be practically useful, they may have been carried around by gentlemen as status symbols. Nineteenth century pocket globes were used in children's education, due to their cheap materials and small size.

A celebration of navigation. This 17th century globe depicts the round-the-world voyages of famous English explorers, Sir Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish. Its main function was not practical use, but instead to celebrate the skill of great English navigators and encourage other citizens to follow their footsteps.

Geographical lottery game. This luxury children's toy features a large globe and 12 lottery game cards, each featuring geographical features, animals and peoples of the world. Although there is no date of manufacture on the objects, we can estimate this fairly accurately from features depicted on the game cards.

An early Italian globe? When this globe was bought by the Museum's founder, it was assumed to be made of silver, created in the 16th century by a high-quality maker. Recent research suggests, however, that the globe's authenticity may be open to question.

A seafaring globe. This globe was designed to be of practical use when navigating at sea. It showed the positions of stars visible in the night sky with the naked eye, allowing seamen to identify them.

Portable 'umbrella' globe. Several types of portable globe existed in the 19th century, but they were often too small to include a good level of detail. In 1850, John Betts attempted to solve this problem, creating a collapsible fabric globe that popped open using an umbrella mechanism.

A Spanish 'Encyglobedia'. At first this may appear to be normal terrestrial globe, but open it up and what is revealed is a planetarium and children's encyclopaedia.

Back to top ^^
Privacy / Web Standards / Copyright Information
© Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge 2006-16
The Whipple Museum [/whipple/]
Explore Whipple Collections
Gallery Challenge [/whipple/gallerychallenge/]