Why Make a Globe?

The printed area of this world map is small, only about seven inches by fourteen inches. The world is shown on twelve gores, which were meant to be cut out and pasted onto a ball, to form a globe.

European mapmakers, as far back as Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century A.D.) and earlier, knew that a globe was the most accurate way to portray the round earth. One obvious drawback to the globe is its size. Waldseemüller’s globe is a good example, for when it is formed into a ball it is only about four and a half inches in diameter! Few details could be given on such a petite globe.

A small globe is easy to carry, but a detailed globe would be far too large to be portable. Another practical problem: larger globes are awkward to view from the top and bottom. For these reasons globes are best for a simple view of the world, and that is what Waldseemüller provided on his globe of 1507.

Globes have still another drawback: they are difficult to store and to protect from damage. Waldseemüller probably printed his globe in an edition of over 1,000 copies. Of that entire printing, only two copies have survived. Neither of them was ever cut for shaping into a globe, they are flat, in gores just as they were printed. Copies that were made into globes were no doubt chewed by dogs, cats, or mice; played with by children or dropped in mud or destroyed by fire — and lost to history.


magnifying glassUnder the Magnifying Glass

The Globe

East 3 gores detail
Near East Detail
Far East Detail
Amercia detail


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