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"Amongst the rarest to survive"

[A pair of nine-inch globes, terrestrial and celestial].
BLAEU, Willem Janszoon
Publication place
Publication date
1602 [but c1621].


Each globe with a diameter of 230mm (nine inches) composed of 12 engraved gores, hand-coloured and heightened in gold, and two polar calottes, all pasted on to a plaster sphere, rotating on brass pinions within brass meridian ring with graduated scale, and a graduated brass altitude quadrant, set into a seventeenth century Dutch wooden base with an engraved horizon ring, adumbrating scales, calendar, almanacs etc. With usual defects: paper equinoctial tables present gaps that are filled and restored, small splits along the gores, several partially deleted entries, small scattered spots but in general in good condition for such an early globe pair, brass polar rings missing.


Willem Janszoon Blaeu's pair of nine-inch table globes are amongst the rarest to survive in comparison with the smaller or larger globes by Blaeu (four, six, 13.5, and 26 inches). Blaeu's globes were aimed at wealthy merchants and noblemen. Even at the time, they were a luxury purchase: the terrestrial globe cost 16 guilders and the celestial globe cost 9 guilders. However, it was also the most advanced cartographic document of the age: it was a monument and tool; to be used as much as admired.

Terrestrial globe
Willem Jansz Blaeu collected information that Dutch mariners gathered from around world and brought back to Amsterdam. Crews were instructed to record information about the lands they visited and the skies they saw. Blaeu incorporated these observations in maps and globes. Through his web of contacts and thanks to assiduous research, he was also able to obtain the most recent information about the latest discoveries in the western hemisphere and the South Pacific, where Dutch explorers were particularly active at the time.

Since the globe was published after 1618, Blaeu was able to include the discoveries made by Henry Hudson in his attempt to find a passage to the East Indies. He also included recent Pacific discoveries of the celebrated voyages of Willem Cornelis Schouten and Jacob Le Maire, who both traversed the South Pacific and the Atlantic. The findings of Schouten and Le Maire in the Tierra del Fuego region are also incorporated.

The Strait of Le Maire is drawn and the hypothetical southern continent is labelled 'Terra Australis Incognita Magalanica'. Olivier van Noort's track is drawn and labelled. His route is indicated with a broken line and the words: 'Navigationis Olivierij ductus' (several times). There are various decorative features, such as animals on the different continents, many ships on the high seas, and allegorical and mythical figures around the cartouches.

The 9-inch globe is not just a smaller version of the one published in 1599. Drawings of animals and people do often correspond to those on the earlier globe, but Blaeu made several significant changes.
- The west coast of North America is drawn differently and the river system of Brazil is altered.
- The hypothetical southern continent is labelled: Terra Australis Incognita Magallanica.
- There are nine ocean names in handsome curling letters: Mare Congelatum, Mare Atlanticum, Oceanus Aethiopicus, Mare Arabicum et Indicum, Mare di India, Oceanus Chinensis, Mar del Zur, Mare Pacificum, Mar del Nort.
- Willem Blaeu, always eager to display the latest discoveries, traced the route of Van Noort's route with a broken line. The findings of the voyage of Schouten and Le Maire in the Tierro del Fuego region are included, despite the 1602 date (names: Fr. Le Maire, Mauritius, Staten Landt, C.Hoorn, I.Barneveltij).

The first maker of globes from the northern Netherlands was the cartographer Jacob Floris van Langren (before 1525-1610). He published his first terrestrial and celestial globes in 1586 with a diameter of 32.5cm, the terrestrial globes being based on the work of Mercator. The second edition of the celestial globe was improved after the observations of the southern hemisphere by Pieter Dirkz Keyser and Frederik de Houtman were incorporated by the geographer Petrus Plancius (1552- 1622), who was also influential as a globe maker.
Two other famous Dutch mapmakers produced celestial globes: Jodocus Hondius the Elder (1563-1612), one of the most notable engravers of his day, and Willem Jansz Blaeu (1571-1638).

Publication history
According to Peter van der Krogt, the following states are known:

First state: 1602 (no known examples).
Second state, c1618-1621 (no known examples).
Third state: 1602, but c1621 (the present example).
All the states are dated 1602 but the second state must have been published after 1618, since it includes the discoveries of Schouten and Le Maire (1615-1617), but not the name 'Blaeu'.
Elly Dekker makes no distinction between the different states. The third state can be divided into states 3a and 3b. All globes have a different production number, some of which are illegible today. This terrestrial nine-inch globe is marked with 'fabr. nr. 4'.

First state: 1602 (known in a catalogue record but no known example surviving).
Second state: presumably published after 1621.
All 30 known celestial globes are in the second state, as this one, which is marked with 'fabr. no. 12'.
Rare: there are 19 recorded examples, of which 14 are in institutions.


Van der Krogt BLA III.