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Globe, American, Wilson, Celestial, 13-Inch Table Globe, 4-Leg Stand, Antique, Albany, NY, 1826 (Reserved)

James Wilson
13-inch Celestial Table Globe
J[ames] Wilson & Sons, Albany, New York: 1826
Turned maple stand
18 inches high, 18 inches in diameter

• 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 American Globe Guide as a service for researchers and collectors.
• Visit our Globes and Planetaria section to see globes offered for individual purchase.

A rare example of an early American celestial globe by James Wilson, known as America’s first globe maker.

The celestial globe is in a calibrated full brass meridian, surmounted by a brass hour pointer, the horizon band with engraved paper calendar and zodiac, raised on a turned maple stand with four legs joined by an x-form cross stretcher, ending in top-form feet.

The constellations, including zodiac signs, are well delineated and elegantly depicted as figures from Greek mythology, animals, and scientific instruments. The stars are shown to seven orders of magnitude, along with nebulae and star clusters, according to a key within a small octagonal box between the constellations Bootes and Virgo. Many individual stars are labeled with Greek letters, and in the case of brighter ones like Sirius, with their names. Some of the constellations are hand-colored in shades of gold, green, orange, pink and gray. The zodiac belt is within a graph-form grid. The ecliptic, equatorial line, and equinoctial and solstitial colures are graduated; the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are dotted lines.

Product description continues below.


A James Wilson globe, the father of American globe making, should be the cornerstone of any major collection. James Wilson (1763-1855), a Bradford, Vermont, farmer and blacksmith by trade, is the father of American globe making. Wilson was the first American to manufacture globes, having been inspired by European globes he saw at nearby Dartmouth College. A self-taught geographer and engraver, he not only made the globe spheres but designed, engraved and printed the cartographic gores for them. Wilson began his business in Bradford in about 1810. and in 1815 moved to New York State, opening a larger and better-equipped globe manufacturing facility at 110 Washington Street in Albany. In 1817, his eldest son Samuel joined the business and the following year, his son John became a primary partner with his father. Another son, David Wilson worked briefly in the family business, designing a three-inch globe. The firm of J. Wilson & Sons quickly became known as a globe making family enterprise. Cyrus Lancaster, a graduate of Dartmouth College and a school instructor, joined the firm in 1827. Following the deaths of Samuel and John Wilson, Lancaster continued as business manager, and two years later became a member of the family, marrying Samuel’s widow, Rebecca. Lancaster produced a number of globes in Albany under the Wilson name, the last dated one in 1845.

By 1810 Wilson noted sales of his hand-made globes in his account books (Tucker, 273; Haskins, 324; Dartmouth 3). An undated Wilson terrestrial globe in the Vermont Historical Society and another at Harvard University are thought to be examples of the 1810 Wilson terrestrial globes. In 1811, Wilson made the first known published and dated American terrestrial globe. In 1812 he issued the first published and dated American celestial globe.

Read more about the firm on our Guide to Globe Makers.

Oval cartouche: A NEW/ AMERICAN/ CELESTIAL GLOBE/ Containing the positions of nearly 5000/ Stars, Clusters, Nebulae, &c. Carefully compil’d/& laid down from the latest & most approv’d/ astronomical tables reduced to the present/ time./ By J. WILSON & SONS,/ 1826./ ALBANY — ST N.Y.

Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally restored and revarnished, with the usual remaining expected light toning, wear and restorations to minor scattered cracks and abrasions. Overall retains a golden antique tone with brightly colored constellations. Stand generally very good with the usual wear and shrinkage.


Dekker, Elly and van der Krogt, Peter. Globes from the Western World. London: Zwemmer, 1993. pp. 125, 130-33, 139. (illustrating Wilson globe in National Museum of American History)

Fowle, Richard J. “James Wilson’s Globes.” Vermont History, XXVIII. 1960. pp. 245-49.

Haskins, Harold Web. “James Wilson — Globe Maker.” Vermont History, XXVII. 1959. pp. 319-330.

Kimball, LeRoy E. “James Wilson of Vermont, America’s First Globe Maker.” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Massachusetts: 1938. pp. 29-48.

The Dartmouth Compass. Vol. 1, No. 4, Autumn 1982.

Tyner, Judith. “A World of Their Own, James Wilson and the First American Globe.” Mercator’s World. January/February 1999.

Yonge, Ena L. A Catalogue of Early Globes, Library Series No. 6. American Geographical Society, 1968. p. 69 -70.

Additional information

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Globe Type



Wood, Maple