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Friday, April 20, 2012

A Fine 13 Inch Terrestrial Globe

J. Wilson & Son
New American 13” Terrestrial Globe on Stand, 1831
Inscribed J. Wilson & Sons, Albany St., N.Y., S. Wood & Sons Agents, New York
19 1/2” high x 18” diameter

James Wilson was the first globe-maker in America. From humble beginnings as a Vermont farmer, he went on to establish the premier globe manufactory of the New World, building terrestrial and celestial globes similar to the London article but at a much cheaper price.  Like many early American engravers, Wilson was largely self-taught.  He traveled to Boston to learn engraving under John Akin, and eventually became an apprentice of Amos Doolittle. 

In 1810 he began producing his own globes, following the model of a pair of European celestial and terrestrial globes belonging to Mr. Miltmore of Dartmouth College.  He began making thirteen inch globes in 1821 and in 1835 Cyrus Lancaster (having assumed leadership of the firm after the death of Wilson's two sons in 1833) brought out a new edition of the thirteen inch globe with the American eagle in the cartouche.

During James Wilson’s extensive self-instruction in the art of globe making, he experimented little with methods of making backgrounds to which he would adhere the results of his engraving.  He started out by creating a large sphere of solid wood, and covered it with paper and drew in the countries with pen and ink.  He was not concerned with the construction of the globe and its mounting as much as he desired to become such a skilled engraver that one would not be able to tell the difference between a globe of his creation from the English models popularly used in the New World.  

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