TITLE: Lenox Globe
DESCRIPTION: The Lenox Globe is often referred to as the oldest extant
post-Columbian globe. The globe itself, measuring 12.7 cm in diameter, is
an engraved copper ball of excellent workmanship. It was found in Paris
in 1850 by the architect, Richard M. Hunt, and was presented by him to James
Lenox the founder of the Lenox Library. It is now a prized possession of
the New York Public Library, of which the Lenox Library now forms a part.
The small globe is composed of two engraved hemispheric sections closely
fitted along the equator, as in the case of the Ulpius Globe (Slide
#340), and pierced for an axis. Whatever mountings it may have had are
lost. It may once have even formed a part of an astronomical clock. A very
similar globe, belonging to an astronomical clock and apparently of about
the same age as the Lenox Globe, is in the library of the Jagellon University
at Cracow in Poland.
The globe bears neither the date nor the name of the maker. Neither parallels
nor meridians are indicated, and though a striking error appears in giving
to the eastern hemisphere, or the Old World from Europe to Asia, too great
an extension in longitude, leaving little space for the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans; the principle latitudes, however, are well given. Europe is rather
summarily delineated as is evidenced by the shape of Portugal, France and
the British Isles. The proportions of Africa are not very accurate either,
but it does display a "modern" (i.e., as oppossed to Ptolemaic)
southern tip of Africa being clearly identified and separated from Asia.
It is evident that the Lenox Globe must have been constructed subsequent
to the discovery of the coast of South America, in 1500, by Cabral, who
gave it the name Vera Cruz, which was soon changed to Terra Sanctæ
Crucis, as on this globe. It seems probable that it was made after the
publication, in 1503, of Vespucius's letter to Lorenzo de Medici, in which
he gave an account of his third voyage, when he followed the Brazilian coast
34° south latitude. On the other hand, the almost complete lack of
information betrayed by the maker of the globe concerning the east coast
of North America, and the absence of the name America on South America
would indicate that it antedates the map of Waldseemüller of I 507
(Slide #312 ).
The historians De Costa and Winsor, neither of whom had seen the Waldseemüller
map, which was only discovered in 1901, fixed the date at 1511 and 1510-12,
respectively. The most probable date is 1503 to 1507 . The southern coast
line of Asia is copied from Ptolemy. The numerous islands in the Indian
Ocean are difficult to identify. De Costa suggests that the large unnamed
island was meant for Australia, and Madagascar and Cirtena for
Sumatra and Java misplaced. As Madagascar was not explored until 1508, it
might be argued that its appearance here would inditate that the globe was
made after that date, were it not for the nameless island off the coast
of Africa more nearly on the site of Madagascar. Moreover, a comparison
with the Ruysch map of I508 (Slide #313) shows at a glance the ignorance
of the maker of this globe in regard to the Indian Ocean and furnishes additional
evidence that it must have been made prior to 1507.
The Simarum Situs east of the Ganges River corresponds to the Sinarum
Situs of Ruysch. Sinarum, says De Costa, like Serica,
was a name for China. The Loac Provincia is the Locac of Marco
Polo. In northern Asia is Sacharuum Regno or Sugar Country. On the
eastern coast, Hc sunt Dracones must refer to the Dagroians
of Marco Polo. A few of the many islands in the eastern seas are designated
by name: Taprobaba, Madagascar and Seilan.
In the New World representation, South America appears as a large island
having three regional names: Mundus Novus, Terra Sanctæ Crucis,
and Terra de Brazil. Isabel [Cuba], Spagnolla [Haiti]
and a few unnamed islands belonging to the West Indies have been outlined.
According to Harrisse, the American configurations seem to be derived from
the same prototype as the gores "erroneously" attributed to Leonardo
da Vinci (Slide # 328). The legend: c.de bone speranza may indicate
a French cartographer copying an Italian model. The size of South America
also attracts attention. Waldseemüller extends the coast of that continent
southward to about 50° south latitude, Ruysch to about 40° south
latitude or slightly farther south than the Cape of Good Hope but, in an
inscription, states that the coast had been explored to 50° south latitude.
The Lenox Globe, though giving no lines of latitude, represents the
coast as far south as about 55° south latitude, the correct latitude
of Cape Horn. Moreover, it places open water to the south of this new continent
and thus suggests that the water-route around South America was known before
Magellan set out in1519. The Schöner globes of 1515 and 1520 (Slide
#323 ), on which South America is separated from an antarctic continent
by a strait connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, give further evidence
of this fact.
In the place of North America there are scattered islands, one of which,
located near the northwest extremity of Terra de Brazil, bears the
name Zipangri [Japan], and one in the far north, but unnamed, clearly
resembles the Cortereal region, as it appears on the Cantino and Caveri
maps (Slides #309, 310). According to Harrisse, in the "alleged"
da Vinci map, the large island west of the Terra de Brazil may have
been originally Zipangri, while Zinpangri on the Lenox Globe
may have become the Terra Frlorida of the da Vinci map.
Most of the inscriptions on the globe reference back to the medieval picture
of Asia, combining antique sources, travel accounts, and fabulous legends.
The anonymous engraver filled the ocean with ships and sea monsters and
stressed the dangers of navidation by illustrating a shipwreck off the coast
of China. The enormous size of the grotesque monsters on the map undoubtedly
added to the terrors of the deep. "It sometimes falleth out,"
wrote Sebastian Munster in his Cosmography, "that Mariners thinking
the Whales to be Islands, and casting out ankers upon their backs, are often
in danger of drowning."
LOCATION: New York Public Library
*Circa 1492, p. 235, #134 (color)
*DeCosta, B.F., "The Lenox Globe", Magazine of American History,
1879, III, pp. 529-540.
Fisk, J., The Discovery of America
*Fite, E. & Freeman, A., A Book of Old Maps, p. 23
Harrisse, H., The Discovery of North America, pp. 470-471, #87
*Nordenskiöld, A.E., Facsimile Atlas, p. 75a, Figure 43
*Stevenson, E.L., Terrestrial and Celestrial Globes, pp. 73-74, Figures
*Winsor, J., Narrative and Critical History of America, Vol. III, pp. 123,
TITLE: Lenox Globe
DESCRIPTION: This modern sketch of the oldest known post-Columbian globe,
reduced to a plain surface and therefore distorted at the poles, accompanies
an article on "The Lenox Globe" by B. F. De Costa.