THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Maps and views blog

3 posts from March 2020

31 March 2020

3D historic globes - quiz answers!

In my last post I posed a set of tricky (or maybe not so tricky) questions on five of our 3D historic globe models. So how did you do? Find out below.

Blaeu's terrestrial globe (1621)

  1. Where is the Le Maire strait, sailed through by a Dutchman (unsurprisingly named Le Maire) in 1616 and making an early appearance on this globe?

The strait is at the southern extremity of Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of South America. Jacob le Maire and William Schouten sailed through it in 1616.

2. Who engraved the globe? Clue: he's signed it somewhere.

Joshua van den Ende (1584-1634), one of Blaeu’s favourite engravers, His name appears (below Blaeu's cartouche) so he must have been well-regarded, since most map engravers weren’t important enough to be allowed to sign their work.

3. Blaeu's globe pre-dates the introduction of the 'Island of California' on maps by some years, but can you identify another large peninsula which appears as an island here?

Maps G.6.b. detail
The island of Korea!


Blaeu's 1602 celestial globe

1. Which late 16th century Dutch expedition first recorded stars in the southern hemisphere, and can you name 3 of these new constellations appearing on this globe?

Maps G.9.b
Blaeu's 1602 celestial globe

Pieter Keyser (1540-1596) and Frederick de Houtmann (1571-27) on two voyages in 1595-7 (to modern-day Indonesia) and 1598 (De Houtmann only). The constellations reflect what to Europeans were new and extraordinary things from far-away places: a toucan, a flying fish and a fly-gobbling chameleon. 

2. Which famous astronomer was Blaeu’s teacher?

The Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). Willem Blaeu spent 1594-6 at his observatory on the island of Hven. Brahe devised a model of the solar system that was a sort of hybrid combination of Copernicus’ heliocentric system and the traditional Ptolemaic one, with the earth at the centre but the planets revolving around the sun as it moved around the earth.

3. Can you spot a supernova? Which constellation is it in?

The star explosion happened in Cygnus in 1600, and Blaeu is supposed to have witnessed it himself.

Thomas Tuttell, celestial globe of 1700

1. Who / what does the constellation Cor Caroli represent, and which modern constellation would it lie in today?

Maps G.53
Detail of Cor Caroli from Tuttell's globe

Cor Caroli – the ‘Heart of Charles’, was created by Sir Charles Scarborough to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy (Charles II) in 1660. Cor Caroli isn't actually a constellation but the brightest star in Canes Venatici (the hunting dogs of the adjacent constellation Boötes which were carved out into a separate constellation by Hevelius).

2. Who is the guy in the portrait included in the globe?

Tycho Brahe again. Tuttell’s globe is a faithful version of Blaeu’s globes, copying a number of elements right down to the costumes worn by some constellations, and, yes, this portrait of Blaeu’s teacher.

3. How did Tuttell meet his tragic end?

Tuttell, who was a hydrographer (marine surveyor) for the Admiralty, drowned in the River Thames near Dagenham whilst surveying in 1702.

Richard Cushee, terrestrial globe, 1730

1. There are two New Britains on the globe. Can you find them?

One is in modern-day Canada, and the other is one of the islands of Papau New Guinea (named by William Dampier in 1700).

2. What do all the tiny little arrows refer to, and why might this sort of information be of interest to the globe's viewers in the early 18th century?

The small arrows covering the sea refer to trade winds and are included on the globe as aids to navigation and the charting of sea routes (the areas of sea with no arrows are labelled ‘variable winds’ – ie. of no fixed direction). This sort of information on sea-faring, trade and exploration was a key aspect of British maps, particularly in the 18th century, and was enthusiastically consumed by its audience. Exploration was the equivalent of what space travel is for us today.

3. The Gobi desert is labelled as what on the globe?

Maps G.14.b
Detail of Cushee's terrestrial globe

It is the Sandy desert of Xamo

Richard Price's 1715 globe

1. Where was Richard Price's shop?

Maps G.15
Detail of Charles Price's terrestrial globe

'At the Atlas against Exeter Change in ye Strand' (London, pretty near where Stanley Gibbons' shop is today). No building numbers then, obviously. Mapmakers’ addresses, which tended to change fairly often as mapmakers frequently moved premises, are a key method of mapping the map trade and a handy tool for dating undated maps.

2 What collection of desirable commodities can you get from Chile?

‘Chili produceth gold, silver, maize, corn, honey, ostridges, metals….’

3. There's an island in the Atlantic that is way too far north of where it should be. Can you find it?

That would be Le Roche’s Island, named after the English mariner Anthony de la Roché in 1675 and now known as the Antarctic island of South Georgia. It is shown here at the same latitude as Buenos Aires.

Even mapmakers sometimes make mistakes.

  

27 March 2020

Test your knowledge with our historic globe quiz

We're very pleased that 3D interactive models of ten of the British Library's historic globes are now freely available online. In fact I haven't stopped spinning them yet. Or is the spinning actually this room I've been stuck in for the past 2 weeks?

Globe viewing can be a rich experience, and some of these globes haven't been looked at properly for a good long while. So for those of you who like a challenge, we invite you to test your knowledge in our mini globe quiz:

  • Five globes, three questions each
  • Click on the globe title to access the 3D model 
  • No prizes (except, obviously, your eternal smugness at getting them all right)
  • This site is allowed  
  • Answers next week sometime

Good luck!

https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/willem-janszoon-blaeu-terrestrial-globe-1606-14a47c148bd446b2801c0b3fd7b58343

Willem Janszoon Blaeu's terrestrial globe, 1606 (updated to 1621)

  1. Where is the Le Maire strait, sailed through by a Dutchman (unsurprisingly named Le Maire) in 1616 and making a very early appearance on this globe?
  2. Who engraved the globe? Clue: he's signed it somewhere.
  3. Blaeu's globe pre-dates the introduction of the 'Island of California' on maps by some years, but can you identify another large peninsula which appears as an island here? 

https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/willem-janszoon-blaeu-celestial-globe-1602-c3ba2ac04abc4da5b5b08313a75c8682

Blaeu's celestial globe of 1603

  1. Which late 16th century Dutch expedition first recorded stars in the southern hemisphere, and can you name 3 of these new constellations which appear on this globe?
  2. Which famous astronomer was Blaeu’s teacher?
  3. Can you spot a supernova? Which constellation is it in?

Thttps://sketchfab.com/3d-models/thomas-tuttell-celestial-globe-c1700-68475e7cac2644899a441d1de08c1503

Thomas Tuttell's celestial globe of 1700

  1. Who / what does the constellation Cor Caroli represent, and which modern constellation would it lie in today?
  2. Who is the guy in the portrait included in the globe?
  3. How did Tuttell meet his tragic end?

https://skfb.ly/6RswA

Richard Cushee's terrestrial globe of 1730

  1. There are two New Britains on the globe. Can you find them?
  2. What do all the tiny little arrows refer to, and why might this sort of information be of interest to the globe's viewers in the early 18th century?
  3. The Gobi desert is labelled as what on the globe?

https://skfb.ly/6RrLp

Richard Price, terrestrial globe, 1715

  1. Where was Richard Price's shop?
  2. What collection of desirable commodities can you get from Chile?
  3. There's an island in the Atlantic that is way too far north of where it should be. Can you find it?

26 March 2020

Go for a spin! 3D interactive historic globes now live

Everyone loves an old globe. When you see one you tend to want to spin it. Doing so, however, can have hazardous outcomes, and not just for the globes.

  

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dictator_charlie5.jpg
Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictator (1940).

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_Hogarth_053.jpg
Wiliam Hogarth. Portrait of Captain Thomas Coram (1740). Foundling Museum, London.


Despite the high visibility of historic globes in popular culture, from portraits of sitters with globe attributes through to props in period dramas and comedic devices, today historic globes are curiously elusive things, often locked away and out of sight for their own safety. The British Library’s 150 or so globes are, like all of our maps, available for anybody who has a research need, but we have to be fairly protective over them in order to preserve them for future generations. 

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/blaeus-terrestrial-globe
W.J. Blaeu's small table globe of 1606 

So today we are very pleased to be able to launch our highly accessible and hazard-free online web page where for the first time you can view, move and explore 3D models of British Library globes from the comfort of your own home.

https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/joseph-moxon-terrestrial-pocket-globe-1679-b28e2cb961ea4b45ae639c1e4b78f73f
Moxon's pocket globe of 1679
https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/moxons-pocket-globe
Moxon's pocket globe of 1679

Navigate, zoom and spin such highlights as Blaeu’s 1606 terrestrial globe (showing results of the then latest Dutch voyages), the first ‘pocket globe’ (yes, interactive 3D portable maps pre-date the 21st century!) and some highpoints of 18th century English globe production. Precisely the sorts of globes that were painted by William Hogarth over two and a half centuries ago. You can investigate the globes further, for example in the 'model inspector' you can see the intricate wireframes used to construct them. You can even switch to virtual reality mode and view them, as it were, in the real world. 

https://www.bl.uk/digitisation-services/specialist-digitisation
Imaging in progress at the British Library's 3D imaging studio

These are the fruits of a collaboration between the British Library’s Map Library and Digitisation service, digitisation experts Cyreal, and 3D platform Sketchfab. We’re also grateful to historic globe conservator and curator Sylvia Sumira for allowing us to use excerpts from her book ‘The Art and History of Globes’ in the online article.  

Cover of Sylvia Sumira's 'The Art and History of Globes.'
Syvia Sumira, 'The Art and History of Globes'.

We hope you enjoy the globes and would love to hear your comments on Twitter at @BMaps.

 Get spinning!