Yorkshireman Joseph Moxon (1627-1691) was an eminent mathematician and hydrographer, partly educated in the Netherlands, where his father James had been employed in Delft and Rotterdam between 1637 and 1643. On their return to London in 1846 father and son set up together as printers, and around 1650 Moxon was making and selling globes and paper and pasteboard instruments from "the signe of the Atlas in Cornhill". In 1652 he returned to the Netherlands to Blaeu's workshop in Amsterdam and two years later published his own translation of Blaeu's Institutio Astronomica in London. As well as a significant 1657 sea-atlas, he produced several further titles on terrestrial and celestial cartography, including a rewritten version of the Blaeu text in 1659, expounding on the subject, by his own admission "more fully and amply than Gemma Frisius, Metius, Hues, Wright, Blaew, or any others that have taught the Use of the Globes" (Moxon, 1659); he further posited their appreciation as "the first Study a Learner ought to undertake, for without a competant apprehension of them he will not be able to understand any Author either in Astronomy, Astrology, Navigation, or Trigonometry". Towards the end of his life, Moxon would also turn his attention to the design and manufacture of printing type, publishing several titles on this subject.
According to his various catalogues, Moxon produced globes of 26, "near 15", 9, 8, 6 and 3in. diameter, as well as "general" and "particular" Copernican armillary spheres of 20in. diameter, Ptolemaic spheres of 14 and 8in. diameter and various paper and pasteboard instruments. The shop achieved some success and was certainly a popular haunt for Edmund Halley as a schoolboy, and friend and customer Samuel Pepys. In 1662 Moxon petitioned successfully for the title of Hydrographer to the King, with endorsements by John Newton D.D. and others and in 1678 he was elected a member of the Royal Society, along with Halley.
The first printed globes made in England were the work of Emery Molyneaux in 1592, but due to the uncertain commercial climate created by the Civil War and execution of Charles I, globe-making was not pursued in England until Moxon, inspired by his time in the Netherlands, became the father of seventeenth-century English globe-making; the fourteen mathematicians who supported his petition to the King appended "we know of none other in England that makes Globes, but himself or hath done these 20 years past". Moxon's apprentice, map-seller William Berry, was the next in a long and increasingly successful line of English makers, partnered with another (probable) Moxon apprentice Robert Morden, whose apprentice in turn, Philip Lea, would go on to produce globes of his own; in fact, it seemed almost as though Moxon came into close contact, if not actually instructed, most of the London globe-makers of the late seventeenth century. Although his own son, James, continued to sell from the sign of the Atlas (often trading with slight underhandedness on his father's success by advertising himself solely as J. Moxon) and republished several works, he seems not to have continued the globe-making tradition, and in 1698 he disposed of the shop's stock by lottery.
The elder Moxon apparently issued two versions of his pocket globe; Hausmann convincingly dates the present edition (2.75in. dia.) to around 1690, but a single example exists in the Scheepvartmuseum in Amsterdam of an earlier edition (2.65in. dia.), dated by van der Krogt to c.1670, with slightly cruder cartography and text in English. Of the present globe, examples are held in the British Library, the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin (in a specially decorated case, for Friedrich I of Prussia via Queen Anne), the Astronomisch-Physikalischen Kabinett der Staatlichen Kunstsammlung in Kassel, the State Hermitage, St Petersburg and the Huntington Library in California. Another specially-decorated example, this time bearing the arms of William and Mary, was sold at Sotheby's, London in March 1997 (Lot 660). Examples of Moxon's larger globes are extremely rare; there is an 8in. terrestrial example at Skokloster Castle in Sweden, and record exists of a 12in. diameter terrestrial in a modern stand passing through the Drouot rooms in Paris in 2003.
Moxon's pocket globe was the first to be produced in England. He is usually remembered as the father of this form, presented in a spherical case, pasted on the inside with celestial gores. In fact, the gores used by Moxon show the stars as they would be presented on a normal convex globe, and it was not until 1697 that Abraham van Ceulen designed a correct set of concave gores. It is possible that the idea for this form of globe had in fact originated with Blaeu, as the matched pair of convex terrestrial sphere ("3 inches in Diameter") and corresponding concave celestial gores was first described in Moxon's translation of Blaeu's Institutio Astronomica. Originator or not (van der Krogt records a 2in. diameter Dutch globe, unsigned, which he dates to the early seventeenth century, and in the eighteenth century it was Herman Moll who was regarded as the inventor of this diverting new novelty), Moxon's pocket globes were undoubtedly hugely influential; although such globes were produced on the Continent during the subsequent century, it was in England that they really became popular, issuing from the workshops of Price, Senex, Cushee, Hill, Lane and Adams.
The example here offered is unusually light (the sphere weighs approximately 50g), as is the case with the same globe in the British Library; the fishskin used on that case and on the one offered here are also identical, of a slightly finer texture than usually used, and the scored decoration is similar in design and identical in execution. There are no pinholes on the British Library example, but the globe held by the Huntington does bear protruding axis pins. Apprently, Moxon's globes were not varnished, and exhibited delicate and restrained colouraton; the varnish and colouring on the present example are therefore probably later. Examination of the loose papers here, however, reveals no chain lines and implies either a date of manufacture later than 1790 or else their having been cut from a section in between the chain lines of a larger sheet.