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The terrestrial globe, a source of endless fascination

01/11/17

The terrestrial globe, a source of endless fascination

The terrestrial globe is a source of endless, easily-explained, fascination. Due to its "resemblance" to the spherical shape of the Earth, it is the most accurate small-scale reproduction of our planet. It speaks about our place among the other planets, and our place between land and sea, a beautiful invitation to travel!

Above all, terrestrial globes are instruments used to make calculations and observations. They were initially manufactured for scientific purposes.

In 1492, Nuremberg-based cartographer and navigator Martin Behaïm created the first terrestrial globe, just a few weeks before the discovery of the New World by Europeans. It was christened the "Erdapfel" (potato in German) and was made from metal. At that time, neither America nor Australia were on the map. It measured 51cm in diameter.

Until then, globes had always been hand-painted and unique. In the early 16th century, cartographer Martin Waldseemüller adapted the printing press to meet the needs of globe manufacturers by creating sections. He was also the first person to introduce the word "America" into the world of cartography.
In the early 17th century, Amsterdam was the capital of terrestrial globes. Unfortunately, there remain no traces of the period's manufacturing processes. Dutchman Willem Blaeu made globes measuring 68cm in diameter which were the largest ever constructed at the time.

The terrestrial globe has now become as much of a decorative object as it is an educational object: whether luminous, with 3D effects, of various sizes on a foot or tripod, inflatable and fun for children, matte or shiny, in colour or black and white, they reflect the latest geopolitical developments.

They are most often manufactured in plastic, with a plastic, wooden or metal base. The Plexiglas sphere is almost unbreakable and scratch-proof. The map is integrated into the Plexiglas lay and is therefore tear-proof and unalterable, and the globe retains its appearance for many decades.

Current globes can even become interactive and talkative when combined with an audio/video player. This enables a great amount of detailed information to be provided (populations, geopolitics, national anthems, etc.), and smartphones and tablets can be used to watch tourist videos.
The globe can also be found being used as a decorative or design object such as a light fixture, an ottoman, a paperweight, and more.

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