A rare and fine terrestrial table-globe by Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr (1671-1750)

 

Nuremberg, 1728

 

GLOBUS TERRESTRIS in quo locorum situs terraeque facies, secundum praecipuas celeberrimorum nostri oevi Astronomorum et Geographorum observationes opera IOH. GABR. DOPPELMAIERI Mathem. Prof. Publ. Norib. Exhibentur, concinnatus á Ioh. George. Puschnero Chalcographo Norib. A.C. 1728).

 

Diam. 31.7 cm

 

The globe is made up of twelve engraved and finely hand-coloured gores laid onto a hollow paper-mâché and plaster sphere, the equatorial and meridian of Ferro graduated in individual degrees and labelled every 5°, the Polar and Tropic circles graduated in degrees but not labelled, the ecliptic graduated in individual days of the houses of the Zodiac with names and sigils and labelled every ten days. In the Southern Pacific a second cartouche surrounded by portraits of the various famous explorers beginning with Mart:Bohemus Norib. and then Americus Vesputi, Franc.Draco, v. Schouten, George Spilbergius, R.P. Tachard S. les., Mon: de la Salle, Thomas Candisch, Olivirius a Nord, Ferdin. Magellanicus and Chris. Columbus added at the bottom is Capit. James Cook. In the centre on an applied oval coloured paper is written Exprimit Globus hic noster quicquid Geographia recens ex Observationibus fide dignis suppedicat,, tam in situ locorum plurium, quam in terrarum, novarum etiam, mariumque ambitu. Meridianus primus per Insulam Fer inter Canarias (quœ olim Fortunatae dicebantur) occidentalissimam ductus, á quo Parisensis Meridianus probatissimarum Observationum testimonio, 20 Gradibus, Noribergensis vero 28 Gr: 40 Min: distat. 

The tracks of several explorers are also shown; Loys (1708) partially coloured in orange, Dampier (1688 & 1700), Tasman (1624), Olivier van Noord (1600), Magellan (1599), Roggeveen and Behrens (1722) and Le Maire. Many more interesting details and descriptions can be found on this globe.

A stamped brass hour dial and pointer sits on top of the engraved brass meridian circle graduated in four quadrants, fitted in a darkened oak Dutch-style stand. The octagonal horizon with beautifully hand-coloured engraved paper showing degrees of amplitude and azimuth in four quadrants, days of the month with Saint’s Days and days of the Zodiac and wind directions. On the circular base of the stand is fitted a compass with a sundial.

 

Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr was a prolific globe-maker in early eighteenth-century Nuremberg, as well as a distinguished mathematician, translator, writer, editor and teacher. He studied in Altdorf and Halle, and travelled widely in Germany, England and the Netherlands. In 1704 he became professor of Mathematics at the Aegidien Gymnasium in Nuremberg. Globe-making was only a small part of his general efforts to encourage interest in science, in particular in the work of scientists like Newton, Huygens and Descartes. He translated several works on astronomy and cartography, such as Nicolas Bion’s L’usage des globes célestes et terrestres, et des sphères and Astronomy by Thomas Street, as well as producing scientific works of his own, including his Atlas novus coelestia in 1742. Besides, his work involved carrying out various astronomical and meteorological observations and experiments with electrical phenomena. Indeed, it seems likely that his death in 1750 was the result of an electric shock received while experimenting with the newly invented electrical condensers.

It may have been an association with the cartographer Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) which awakened in Doppelmayr an interest in globes, originating with his contribution of an article entitled Einleitung zur Geographie for Homann’s atlas of 1714. The present terrestrial globe, dated 1728, is one of the very first, extremely impressive globes, made by Doppelmayr, both in design and in execution. Stevenson records that there “are scarcely any map records of the period more interesting than those found on this globe of Doppelmayr’s.” Following the decline of Dutch globe-making at the beginning of the 18th century, Doppelmayr was the first successful globe-maker in Germany and soon dominated the German market for cheap but finely drawn and constructed globes.

Doppelmayr worked with the engraver Johann Georg Puschner (1680-1749), and his son Johann Georg Puschner II continued to publish the globes after the death of his father in 1749. When Puschner’s copper plates came into the hands of the Nuremberg publisher Wolfgang Paul Jenig (d. 1805), Jenig reissued and updated Doppelmayr’s globes with considerable commercial success, merely signing his name on the back of the meridian circle at the North Pole. The final reissue was published by Johann Bernard Bauer (1752-1839) in 1808; their general commercial availability for such a long period is a testament to how prized Doppelmayr’s globes were.

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