top of page



Globe by Martin Behaim, 1492

In later centuries the globes were built as rare objects intended for the aristocracy and clergy, or in miniature as travel objects. They were generally accompanied by celestial globes, representing the constellations, and already in the 18th and 19th centuries, with telluriums or planetariums and armillary spheres for educational purposes simulating the movement of the planets around the sun.

The Venetian cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli (1650 - 1718) built a pair of huge globes four meters in diameter, terrestrial and celestial for Louis XIV  (see video) , and its success was such that it was showered with additional requests for globes. Coronelli was the first to be rewarded for his skill and is therefore considered the first globes maker.


Vincenzo Coronelli

As early as the 16th century, southern Germany, especially Nuremberg, became the center of the manufacturing world. Amsterdam had its main production period  in the seventeenth century, as well as Venice, Paris, and Rome. London entered the globes industry around the second half of the 18th century. James Wilson was the first to produce globes in the United States in 1810.

During the twentieth century, many globes were built in Australia, the United States and different European countries, becoming popular in the thirties of the last century in such a way that a well-known brand of German globes took as its motto: a man, a globe, with the idea of that each person had one.

In Spain there are very few built, there is only information on the one carried out at the end of the s. XVIII by the geographer Carlos III Tomás López, recently acquired by the National Library; of those produced by Pedro Martín de López in Madrid and Antonio Monfort in Barcelona, both in the first half of the s. XIX, and later, of those published by Saturnino Calleja and the Paluzzie brand already at the end of the century and the beginning of the next. In the first decades of the 20th century, the Ministry of Public Instruction commissioned didactic material in Spanish from the French brand Forest , and since the 1920s, the defunct Catalan firm Dalmáu produced a large number of globes until the 1980s, when it was absorbed by another company.


Globe by Tomás López, National Library

*  *  *

Ancient Babylonians carved rustic contour maps on clay tombstones. The Polynesians wove their maps and contributed to the advancement of the science of navigation. The Egyptians drew their maps of gold mines on papyrus sheets, but it was not until the 3rd century BC that the sphericity of the earth was established, the oldest known example of a globe being the one they built in Cilicia, Crates de Malos in the middle of the century II BC.

The first terrestrial globes only represented the emerged lands of the old world, being the size of these according to the degree of knowledge that was had in each historical moment. Those built by Muslim cartographers during the golden age of Islam reached a high degree of perfection like that made in the 9th century for the Abbasid caliph Al-Ma'mun. Another example was the one presented by the Persian astronomer Jamal ad-Din in Beijing in 1267. The oldest surviving globe was built by Martin Behaim in Nurembeg, in 1492, and the first to represent the emerged lands of the new world. It was the one made by Martin Waldseemüller in 1507.

bottom of page