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Globe, American, Moon, Manning’s Moonball, 6-Inch Globe, Painted Rubber, New Orleans, c. 1960s

This globe is currently on reserve among numerous extremely fine and rare American globes to be sold as a single collection. In the meanwhile, it has been placed here in our Globe Guide section as a service for researchers and collectors.

Browse our currently available Globes & Planetaria or search our site to see globes offered for individual purchase.

Frank Wilson Manning (1903-1977) (designer)
Manning’s Moonball
Manning’s Moonball Co. Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana: c. early 1960s
Painted rubber
6 inches diameter

A rare, raised-relief model of the moon, intended as an educational toy. It maps the surface of the moon with realistic mountains and craters visible from earth on one hemisphere, and has text with facts about the moon on the other (dark) side. A compass image appears on the North-South-East-West in the center of the text side. The sphere is a pliable rubber, painted silver, now worn with variously colored details showing through. It is accompanied by a double-sided page, printed in dark blue ink, with a map of the moon, divided into four quadrants, on one side, and “Facts About the Moon” by Frank W. Manning  — the designer of the Moonball — on the other. Another example of this object is in the scientific instrument collection of the University of Toronto. Like the example in the University of Toronto, the offered example has blue, orange and yellow underpainting showing through. This suggests that this painting scheme is original, though it is unknown why it would have first been colored, and then painted silver.

The University of Toronto dates their example as c. 1953-1969. Nevertheless, Manning’s Moonball Co. Inc. is shown in official Louisiana corporate records as having been incorporated December 26, 1962. This suggests a manufacturing date of the globe no earlier than this time. The flier that comes with the globe writes of the day “until actual landings are made” indicated a date before 1969.  It may be posited that the globe as manufactured in connection with interest in the moon generated by the initial space race which began in earnest in 1957 with the launch of the soviet unmanned satellite Sputnik.


Product description continues below.


The following text appears in upper case raised lettering on the moon (capitalization and punctuation have been added here for readability):

©7643 Manning’s Moonball. Actual relief of moon’s surface. Diameter 2,160 miles. Reason man has seen only one side of Moon: It rotates on its axis in 27 days and takes 27 days to circle the earth. Surface temp on side we see 212°. Side away from Sun 300° below. It’s 239,000 miles from Earth. Highest mts. over 6 miles. Deepest crater Newton 29,000 ft. Greatest distance from Earth 252,000 miles. Escape on Moon 1.5 to Earth 7.

Frank Manning was a colorful character with wide-ranging interests and experiences. He was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, but spent most of his adult life in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a sideline to his main career as a financial investigator, he was a scientist and inventor. Manning served in the U.S. Navy and later joined the merchant marines, where he learned about astronomy and lens grinding. As an inventor, he assembled two of the world’s largest mobile telescopes and manufactured the Manning Moonball, which mapped the topography of the moon on a sphere. He also patented and manufactured the Manning Tasty Shrimp Fish Lure. After leaving the merchant marines, he served as a financial investigator, eventually serving as Chief Investigator for the Department of Revenue for the State of Louisiana and then Chief Investigator for the Louisiana Department of Justice before retiring. He and his wife also collected art and antiques.

Condition: Generally very good the apparently original silver paint a bit worn with blue, orange and yellow underpainting showing through. The ball is rubber so indents upon pressure as one that is slightly deflated.


“Manning’s Moonball.” University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection. 2019. (29 September 2022).

Mitchell, Patricia B. “Frank W. Manning.” New Orleans Community Standard. January 1975. Online at: (29 September 2022).

Additional information

Maker Location


Globe Type

Lunar, Moon