Initially a stationer, London publisher and engraver John Senex was well-known as a publisher of atlases, maps and geographical texts, before he started production of globes in 1706. His first pair of 12-inch diameter globes was advertised in the London Gazette on May 6-7 of that year - "New pair of Globes, Twelve Inches Diameter". These were produced in collaboration with London publisher Charles Price (fl.1697-1733). The partnership ended in 1710, after the issue of another pair, this time of pocket globes, and Senex soon became the more successful of the two, Price ending his career and his life in a Fleet Street prison. Thus it can be stated with some certainty that the example offered here is one of the first set of Senex globes and can be dated to around 1706.
Senex also produced globes of 2-, 9- and 16-inch diameter. He planned a pair of 26-inch globes, advertised in his Treatise on the description and use of both globes of 1718, but these were never issued.
In 1728 he was appointed Fellow of the Royal Society, and was thereafter able to use the post-nominal letters F.R.S. It was for the Royal Society that he prepared his paper of 1738 Contrivance to make the Poles of the Diurnal Motion in a Celestial Globe pass round the Poles of the Ecliptic.
Senex is at the root of a long and involved history of English globe making: following his death in 1749, his work was continued by his widow until 1755 when his stock of copper plates, moulds and tools was acquired at auction by James Ferguson (1710-1776), another Fellow of the Royal Society; only one set of plates escaped, being the set for the Senex-Price celestial pocket globe and those for a newly engraved matching terrestrial sphere, which went to the celebrated instrument-maker George Adams Snr (1704-1772). By the time Adams issued the globes from these plates, the celestial was already out of date. James Ferguson was not a good businessman, however, and having updated and reissued some of the Senex globes, only two years later in 1757 he was compelled by mounting debts to sell his stock to travelling lecturer and instrument-maker, Benjamin Martin (1704-1782). Martin continued to update and issue the Senex globes from his establishment on Fleet Street, The Globe and Visual Glasses. The second son of George Adams Snr, Dudley Adams (1762-1830), was even publishing a new edition of Senex's 16-inch diameter globe as late as 1793. Other well-known English makers who partook of this long tradition were Gabriel Wright (d.1804) who, assistant to Benjamin Martin for eighteen years, in 1782 drew a new set of terrestrial gores from the Ferguson/Senex plates, including the tracks of the Captain Cook's three recent voyages of discovery. The trade cartouche still bore the name of James Ferguson. William Bardin (c.1740-1798), the founder of the family firm which bore his name until around 1820, published the globe made up from these gores.
This history of eighteenth-century globe-making, and the fact that Senex's name remained on the cartouches even of the updated versions of his own globes, is not only a testament to the high quality of his work but also to the long-lived commercial appeal of the name.