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Pocket Globe Nicholas Lane

Pocket Globe Nicholas Lane

Pocket Globe
Nicholas Lane
London, post 1779

The globe is contained in its original case, which is covered in leather.

The sphere measures:
2.75 in (6.9 cm) whereas the case measures 2.9 in (7.5 cm).
0.28 lb (128 g).
State of conservation:
almost excellent. It has some slight abrasions and a few signs of use. The case doesn’t close completely.

The globe is made up of twelve printed paper gores aligned and glued to the sphere. On the Poles, two pins had been inserted, but these are now missing.
In the North Pacific Ocean, above the Tropic of Cancer, the globe bears a cartouche framed with small leafy branches. It contains the inscription:

A New
of the EARTH
by N. Lane

and, below the cartouche, there is:

1776 Prockter fc.

On the terrestrial globe, a large part of southern and central Africa is empty, and the Great Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria (which Europeans would begin to explore after 1858) are not marked. North America only bears the names of some British colonies. California is already depicted as a peninsula, but the northern territories of the continent are represented inaccurately: Alaska is barely described, and the northeastern coasts appear to be connected to Greenland. Australia, which bears the old name of New Holland (the new name would be introduced after 1824), is fully depicted, while Tasmania still appears as a peninsula. It was circumnavigated by Matthew Flinders in 1798.
In the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, the directions of the monsoons are indicated. The Great Wall of China is also depicted on the map.
Some of the routes of the voyages of Anson and Cook are traced on the map. The pocket globe was likely created after the death of Captain Cook on February 14, 1779, as his place of death, Kealakekua Bay in the Hawaiian Islands, is marked on the map. It is indeed likely that the publication of the pocket globe took place in the period immediately following Cook’s disappearance. By the time the two ships of his expedition returned to England in October 1780, the news of his demise had already been known for some time. (Nigel Rigby e Pieter van der Merwe, Captain Cook in the Pacific, London 2002, p. 61) This event surely would have sparked competition among publishers, leading to an accelerated update of maps and globes to be published.

The container is made up of two hemispheres covered in black leather and hinged together. Two hooks ensure its closure.
Inside the two hemispheres, the celestial vault is depicted, with stars and constellations indicated in both Latin and English. Many of them are represented by their corresponding mythological figures.

The current state of research does not allow for the reconstruction of the entire history of the Lane family. They were manufacturers of globes – especially pocket-sized ones – and the founder of the company in the 1770s was almost certainly Nicholas (perhaps a relative of John I, John II or James, all of whom were active in manufacturing scientific instruments for other entrepreneurs, starting from 1733); his son Thomas continued the business until at least the early decades of the nineteenth century. Then it is not clear which family members took over the management of the company. Sources have so far provided the names (George, John), but not the kinship relationships between them; the only certain fact is that the production of Lane branded globes continued until about the middle of the 19th century.


Fotografia: Fabrizio Stipari


P., Van der Krogt, Old Globes in the Netherlands, Utrecht 1984, pp. 180-182;
G. Clifton, Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851, London 1995, s. v.;
E., Dekker, Globes at Greenwich, Oxford 1999, pp. 393-394;
Nigel Rigby e Pieter van der Merwe, Captain Cook in the Pacific, London 2002.
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