A James Wilson globe 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 his sons expanded it during the following decades, setting up a manufacturing facility as James Wilson & Sons in Albany, New York.
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 of which this offered celestial globe is a rare example.
Read more about the firm on our Guide to Globe Makers.
Oval Celestial Cartouche: A NEW/ AMERICAN/ CELESTIAL GLOBE/ Containing the Position of nearly/ 5000 Stars, Clusters, Nebulae, Planetary/ Nebulae &c. Correctly computed & laid down/ from the latest observations and dis-/ coveries by Dr. Maskelyne Dr. Herschel/ the Rev. Mr. Wollaston &c. &c./ By James Wilson/ 1812
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.