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Astronomy, Diagram, Globes and Armillary Spheres, Delamarche, Paris, Antique Print, late 18th Century


Sphere de Copernic, Sphere de Ptolemée, Globe Terrestre, Globe Celeste (Plate a)
from Atlas Moderne ou Collection De Cartes Sur Toutes Les Parties du Globe Terrestre Par Plusieurs Auteurs
Delamarche, Paris: c. 1787
or Jean Lattré, Paris: c. 1762-91
Hand-colored engraving
13.5 x 18.5 inches, ruled border
15 x 20 inches, overall

Study of four astronomical and geographic demonstration devices, arranged in a row: a Copernican and a Ptolemaic armillary sphere, and a terrestrial and a celestial globe. The instruments are shown in full meridians, with a horizon and/or zodiac bands, on elaborate Louis XVI stands. Each stand, en suite, has a ram’s head over festooned central standard, on a festooned base with acanthus legs ending in block feet decorated with Greek key, on a plinth.

Product description continues below.


Armillary spheres are astronomical demonstration devices in which several concentric rings surround a central sphere, representing either the earth (Ptolemaic) or the sun (Copernican). Generally the rings are within a zodiac band, meridian, and/or horizon. A Ptolemaic armillary sphere demonstrates the geocentric theory of the universe developed by Ptolemy and others in ancient Greece and Rome, with a central earth globe surrounded by equatorial, tropical and polar rings, within a flat zodiac band. Some Ptolemaic armillary spheres also incorporate a moon and/or sun disk. Even though it has long been known that the sun is the center of the solar system and that the earth revolves around it, Ptolemaic armillary spheres remained useful to show the tropical rings superimposed over the globe in relation to the ecliptic (i.e. zodiac band), in order to demonstrate the apparent path of the sun, and other astronomical phenomena such as hours of the day, seasons, etc. A Copernican armillary sphere demonstrates the modern theory of the solar system that the planets revolve around the sun, first popularized by Nicolaus Copernicus during the Renaissance. The concentric rings surrounding the spherical sun at the center represent the rotation of the planets, and are enclosed by a zodiac band. Copernican armillary spheres often have the earth represented as a sphere with a rotating moon ball or disk.

Atlas Moderne, as its title suggests, was an atlas of various maps of places around the world, by various cartographers. It was first published in 1762 by Jean Lattré in collaboration with the mapmaker Jean Janvier (1746-76), and was published in a number of later editions by Lattré, Charles-François Delamarche and Chez Remondini. Lattré also published a pair of globes: a terrestrial globe designed by Rigobert Bonne (1727-95), a hydrographer, and a celestial globe designed by the astronomer and director of the Paris Observatory Joseph-Jérôme de Lalande (1732-1807), both of whom were renowned scholars at the time. Cooperative arrangements between map and globe publishers were common in the 18th century; Delamarche incorporated some of Lattré’s stock of maps and globes, and both firms issued versions of the print shown above. They also both published Petit Atlas Moderne, an atlas for schoolchildren.

The Delamarche family of cartographers was among the most renowned and prolific producers of maps, atlases, globes and armillary spheres in France in the late 18th century, and through much of the 19th century. The firm was founded by Charles-François Delamarche (1740-1817), as successor to the workshop of Robert de Vaugondy, map and globe makers to King Louis XVI. He republished many Robert de Vaugondy maps and globes, and later also incorporated the stock of Jean Lattré, a map and globe maker active in the second half of the 18th century. After his death, his son Felix Delamarche succeeded him, and had a cooperative relationship with Charles Dien, Sr. Later, the Delamarche firm was taken over by Gosselin, who had been serving as its manager since 1848.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases.


Dekker, Elly and van der Krogt, Peter. Globes from the Western World. London: Zwemmer, 1993. pp. 78-80.

“Spheres et globes.” David Rumsey Map Collection. 2003. (19 June 2007).

Additional information


18th Century