Sunday, December 12, 2010

Very Large Globes

Longtime readers (if there are any still around) may remember my fascination with Juan Trippe's globe:

To review, Juan Trippe, when he was the head of Pan Am, had a very large antique globe in his office in the Chrysler Building. He used the globe and bits of string to plan out Pan Am's pioneering routes around the world.

That globe is now in the Smithsonian Institution, where I saw and reported on it in 2008. Close examination revealed it to be a "Malby's Terrestrial Globe", which was not terribly significant to me at the time, but probably should have been:

Markings on the globe indicate it was manufactured in "18*4" - the third digit had been obfuscated by wear. I theorized at the time that it was manufactured in 1884 or 1894, but that was incorrect.

Thomas Malby was a globe and chart maker in London who first estabilished his business in 1810. In 1849, he re-issued the 36" 1825 Addison globe "for the Great Exhibition", which was held in 1851 (in partnership with the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, or SDUK). Reportedly Malby sold these globes until 1862, after which they were sold by James Wyld, another famous 19th century London globe maker.

There are quite a few Malby globes to be found around the world, but the giant 36" models are very rare, and very valuable. According to the University of Utah, who have two of them, there are only eight left in the world (three in the US and three in the UK, in addition to the two at Utah, according to them). I'm not sure this is correct.

Yesterday I was at the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina, and was very surprised to see a 36" Malby globe in the library there. Perhaps more amazingly, a 36" Malby globe was recently sold at auction in New York - for $103,700. Including the Juan Trippe globe, that's three right there. Here are two more - although they are listed as "by James Wyld", they date from 1860 and I believe Wyld globes were actually made by, and labeled, Malby in 1860.

So Juan Trippe's globe would appear to probably be dated 1854, which is when Malby's big globes were at their most popular. (Here's an advertisement for them from 1850.) While there are probably more than 8 of them still in existence, they are still incredibly rare and valuable.

Globes are not cheap under any hardly any circumstances. The closest modern analogue to the large Malby globe is the 32" Replogle Diplomat - which runs around $8000 new. Someday when I have $8k lying around I'm going to get one so I can play Juan Trippe at home...

And Malby's? They're still in business in London, now known as the London Name Plate Manufacturing Co., Ltd. They no longer make globes (as far as I can tell) but the company is run by the 7th generation of the Malby family. Cool... Now if we could just get them to make more 36" globes!


Dave E. said...

There's still at least one of us around and yeah, I remember that pic. Interesting background.

CW said...

Thanks Dave!

Anonymous said...

Hi CW,

I'm doing a bit of research I don't suppose you know where in the US and the UK these 6 Malby globes are do you?

Very much appreciate your help.
All the best,


CW said...

One at the Smithsonian, one at the Biltmore, two at the University of Utah, and two in private collections, of which one of those was recently sold at auction in New York. That's just the ones in the US. There are, I believe, 2 at the British National Maritime Museum and one at Jesus College, Oxford, and probably several more in the UK, adding up to more than the eight total alleged to exist by the University of Utah.

CW said...

Mallett's Auctioneers in London also recently sold a pair of 36" Wyld globes (Wyld took over production from Malby, and I believe some Wyld globes are marked "Malby"), which makes at least 11 by my count (if you include the Wyld globes, which are generally identical to Malby's).

Tom Malby said...


I came upon this site by chance while doing some family research.
I am the Eighth generation of Malby & Sons., however we are now trading under "The London Nameplate Mfg. Co. Ltd.

This was a very interesting read as I was unaware that so many of the 36" globes still existed.
I own a few of the 12" amongst others.



Thomas Malby... (co-incidents)

Vibhuti said...

And 2 of them in Thailand, at National Museum Bangkok. They are gifts from Queen Victoria to King Mongkut of Siam.

S. Nongnut

Anonymous said...

You dont need to spend that much for a quality globe check out