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From antiquity to the present day, people have used globes to model the world around them. Globes serve many different functions, from practical tools to representations of power, and have been produced for a variety of audiences, including as children's teaching objects, sailors' navigation aids and gentlemen's status symbols.

Many of the globes held in the Whipple Museum's collection were used for teaching, including the dissectable paper globe kits designed by Edward Mogg to liven up children's geography lessons.

The Globes section of the Explore website received special funding support from the Designation Challenge Fund (Audience Development Grant), the Ann D Foundation and Dr Anita McConnell. We are very grateful for this support.

Read more at: A Brief History of Globes
Pocket globe by London globemaker Newton, in a wooden case.

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.

Read more at: An Immobile Globe
Detail of the planisphere on which the English Globe rests.

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.

Read more at: Dissectable Paper Globes
Composed sphere with some parts exposed

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.

Read more at: A Jigsaw Puzzle Globe
Puzzle globe faces showing popular depictions of Europe and Asia

A Jigsaw Puzzle Globe

Twenty two jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together to make up this globe, which was intended for use in children's education, probably in the home. Made in the 1870s from wood covered with printed paper, the globe reflects contemporary attitudes regarding other lands and peoples. Contemporary education Geography was widely...

Read more at: Japanese Star Globe
Japanese astronomical 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.

Read more at: Pocket-sized Globes
Detail of Darton's pocket globe with celestial cartography on the concave surface of its spherical case.

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.

Read more at: A Celebration of Navigation: Famous Voyages Depicted on a Globe
Detail of globe showing inscription "A New TERRESTRIAL GLOBE, Made by Rt Morden, Wan Berry, Ph Lea. And Sold at their Shops at the Atlas in Cornhill, at ye Globe at Chering Cross, and at ye Atlas of Hercules in Cheapside, London.

A Celebration of Navigation: Famous Voyages Depicted on a Globe

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.

Read more at: A Geographical Lottery Game
Animals and buildings of North Africa depicted on the surface of the globe

A 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.

Read more at: An Early Italian Globe?
Detail of the silver globe

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.

Read more at: Identifying Stars at Sea
Detail from the Starfinder globe by Cary & Co.

Identifying Stars at Sea

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.

Read more at: Portable 'Umbrella' Globe
Detail from Betts' Portable Globe

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.

Read more at: A Spanish 'Encyglobedia'
Detail of Spanish Globe interior showing orrery.

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.