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AN EARLY ENGLISH GLASS CELESTIAL GLOBE — COWLEY, John (fl. 1730-40). The thick blown glass 10-inch globe of slightly prolate form, with internal central steel axis, terrestrial globe, brass horizon and meridian rings, supported on a later marble pedestal. 585 x 265 x 215mm on stand — [with:] a 3 page sales catalogue in Portuguese and English Esphera Celeste Descripçã d’esta preciosa obra d’arte do seculo XVIII Existente em Portugal. Lisbon: 1888.
AN EARLY ENGLISH GLASS CELESTIAL GLOBE — COWLEY, John (fl. 1730-40). The thick blown glass 10-inch globe of slightly prolate form, with internal central steel axis, terrestrial globe, brass horizon and meridian rings, supported on a later marble pedestal. 585 x 265 x 215mm on stand — [with:] a 3 page sales catalogue in Portuguese and English Esphera Celeste Descripçã d’esta preciosa obra d’arte do seculo XVIII Existente em Portugal. Lisbon: 1888.
AN EARLY ENGLISH GLASS CELESTIAL GLOBE — COWLEY, John (fl. 1730-40). The thick blown glass 10-inch globe of slightly prolate form, with internal central steel axis, terrestrial globe, brass horizon and meridian rings, supported on a later marble pedestal. 585 x 265 x 215mm on stand — [with:] a 3 page sales catalogue in Portuguese and English Esphera Celeste Descripçã d’esta preciosa obra d’arte do seculo XVIII Existente em Portugal. Lisbon: 1888.
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AN EARLY ENGLISH GLASS CELESTIAL GLOBE — COWLEY, John (fl. 1730-40). The thick blown glass 10-inch globe of slightly prolate form, with internal central steel axis, terrestrial globe, brass horizon and meridian rings, supported on a later marble pedestal. 585 x 265 x 215mm on stand — [with:] a 3 page sales catalogue in Portuguese and English Esphera Celeste Descripçã d’esta preciosa obra d’arte do seculo XVIII Existente em Portugal. Lisbon: 1888.
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AN EARLY ENGLISH GLASS CELESTIAL GLOBE — COWLEY, John (fl. 1730-40).

Details
AN EARLY ENGLISH GLASS CELESTIAL GLOBE — COWLEY, John (fl. 1730-40).
The thick blown glass 10-inch globe of slightly prolate form, with internal central steel axis, terrestrial globe, brass horizon and meridian rings, supported on a later marble pedestal. 585 x 265 x 215mm on stand — [with:] a 3 page sales catalogue in Portuguese and English Esphera Celeste Descripçã d’esta preciosa obra d’arte do seculo XVIII Existente em Portugal. Lisbon: 1888.

Provenance: By family repute purchased by Joaquim António Rodrigues Galhardo (1808-1880) while in England in 1831-1832 — thence by descent.

The earliest dated glass celestial globe.

The only known glass globes to predate this offering are both lost. The first was made for Emperor Charles I by the great cartographer Gerard Mercator in 1552; the second is referred to by Roger Long (1680-1770) in his Astronomy in five books (Cambridge: 1742) where he illustrates a glass celestial globe on the frontispiece which he invented 'above twenty years ago'. The difficulty of making a glass globe, added to the fragility of the material used to represent the crystalline heavens explains their low preservation rates. The current globe is a remarkable survival.

The earliest extant glass globes are those engraved by John Cowley for mechanised stands by Thomas Heath. Along with the current example, only two others are known to survive: one in the Science Museum London (Inventory No: 1913-531), signed and dated 'No. 4 Delineat & Sculpt. J. Cowley Londini 1739', which is supported on an elaborate brass frame by Heath & Wing (this was sadly dropped and the pieces riveted back together, the internal globe a replacement terrestrial globe by Newton and dated Jan 1st 1897); the other is the Powderham Globe, undated but with a terrestrial globe by Nathaniel Hill, circa 1750 (sold in these rooms 4 June 1987, lot 35).

A small number of later French glass celestial globe clocks survive, as well as a mechanised glass celestial globe, dated to 1742-1750, that is held at the Science Museum in London (Inventory No.: 1927-1412). It is associated with the astronomer Dr Stephen Demainbray (1710-1782) and it seems to be based on Long's design.

The prolate form of the present example conforms with the early date, since the making of a large glass sphere would have been perfected by trial and error, each example being produced at great expense. The wheatsheaf pattern found on the internal brass mechanism of the present example is identical to that found on other instruments signed by Thomas Heath. The original (probably wooden) base does not survive, and along with some replaced gores (one carries a cartouche for 'MPS'), the marble stand was probably added when the globe came to Portugal in the 19th century. Family tradition has it that the owner's great-great uncle went out to buy an aquarium, and instead came back with this globe that was full of dirt and dust.

Major-General Joaquim Galhardo was a friend and future brother-in-law of the writer Alexandre Herculano (1810-1877). Together they fled to England and France for a year following the failed liberal revolt of the Regimento de Infantaria of 31 August 1831. A decade after his death, Galhardo's son tried, unsuccessfully, to sell the globe in 1888, perhaps because academic and collecting interest in historic globes was yet to ignite (Stephenson's Terrestrial and Celestial Globes would not appear for another 33 years). The next we hear of the globe is a short paragraph in Popular Astronomy, vol. 31, 1923, advertising 'An Old Celestial Sphere [...] which its owner wishes to sell'. The globe has remained in the family since and is offered here at auction for the first time.

The glass surface finely diamond-engraved with the constellations each labelled in Latin, by Ursa Major a cartouche 'J Cowley Londini Sculpsit 1730', the stars given to four orders of magnitude, the graduated equator 0-360° divided by 1°, numbered every 10° and marked every 5°, the ecliptic marked with twelve sigils, each divided 0-30° divided by 1°, numbered every 10° and marked every 5°, the tropics and arctic circles marked with a double engraved line, a meridian arc 90°-0-90°. At the pole a brass hour ring XII-I-XII-I on a brass axis supporting a 2½-inch terrestrial globe (some elements later, at least one semi-gore by 'MPS' and with small losses and repairs) with printed half-gores applied to a wooden sphere with engraved brass brass equator, a brass quadrant arc for the moon attached to north pole, on a steel axis through the equator is a supported an engraved brass horizon 0-90°-0-90° with 32 compass points and engraved wheatsheaf patterning. An opening to the south celestial Antarctic circle with brass rings screwed to the glass, on brass mechanism with crank-handle.



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Robert Tyrwhitt
Robert Tyrwhitt

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