Enchanting Video Shows How Globes Were Made by Hand in 1955: The End of a 500-Year Tradition

The first globe–a spher­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our plan­et Earth–dates back to the Age of Dis­cov­ery. Or 1492, to be more pre­cise, when Mar­tin Behaim and painter Georg Glock­endon cre­at­ed the “Nürn­berg Ter­res­tri­al Globe,” oth­er­wise known as the “Erdapfel.” It was made by hand. And that tra­di­tion con­tin­ued straight through the 20th cen­tu­ry, until machines even­tu­al­ly took over.

Above, you can watch the tail end of a 500-year tra­di­tion. Some­where in North Lon­don, in 1955, “a woman takes one of the moulds from a shelf and takes it over to a work­bench. She fix­es it to a device which holds it steady whilst still allow­ing it to spin.” “Anoth­er girl,” notes British Pathe, “is stick­ing red strips onto a larg­er sphere.” After that, “coloured print­ed sec­tions show­ing the map of the world are cut to shape then past­ed onto the sur­face of the globes.” Through that “skilled oper­a­tion,” the Lon­don-based firm pro­duced some 60,000 globes each year.

Here, you can also watch anoth­er globe-mak­ing mini-doc­u­men­tary, this one in black & white, from 1949. It gives you a glimpse of a process that takes 15 hours, from start to fin­ish.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Map of the World: The Inno­va­tion that Rev­o­lu­tion­ized Map Design (1943)

Japan­ese Design­ers May Have Cre­at­ed the Most Accu­rate Map of Our World: See the Autha­Graph

How Vinyl Records Are Made: A Primer from 1956

How Ani­mat­ed Car­toons Are Made: A Vin­tage Primer Filmed Way Back in 1919

The Mak­ing of Japan­ese Hand­made Paper: A Short Film Doc­u­ments an 800-Year-Old Tra­di­tion

by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (2)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.