Copley 16-Inch Terrestrial Globe

There is no cartouche on this globe, but the texts on the horizon circle read: “IMPROVED GLOBE BOSTON” and “REFERENCES / Flamstead 46. Hevelius 24. Piazzi 180. LaCaille 1661. Nebulae. W. Herschell, J. Herschell, & J. Dunlop.” and “MANUFACTURED FOR H. B. NIMS & CO. / TROY N.Y.” and “THE EQUATION OF TIME” and “Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852 by Charles Copley, in / the Clerks office, of the District Court, of the Southern District, of New York” and “MAGNITUDES / First Magnitude. . . Ninth Nebulae” and “EXPLANATION. / Ancient Constellations . . . Modern . . .”
This globe has a short 4-leg wooden base, a wooden horizon circle and a brass meridian. The astronomical information on the horizon circle suggests that this element could be used for celestial as well as terrestrial globes.
Charles Copley (b. 1800) was a cartographer and engraver from England who became an American citizen in 1844 and lived in Brooklyn. He is best known for the pair of 16-inch globes that he introduced in 1852. Despite being extremely detailed, even to the point of obscurity, these globes won a gold medal at the 1852 fair of the American Institute in New York, and a first premium at the 1853 fair of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Copley’s globes would be revised from time to time, and marketed by other firms.
This example of Copley’s terrestrial globe contains revisions that would have been of particular interest to Americans: Alaska (1867) is shown, but Lake Victoria (1858) and Mt. Kilimanjaro (1848) are not. Other additions include isothermal lines, the Atlantic Cable, and various deep sea soundings which, as advertised, “are not laid down on any other globe.”
H. B. Nims & Co., the firm that marketed this example, was in business in Troy, N.Y., from 1869 to 1885 and again from 1890 to 1896, publishing and selling books and other school supplies. The globe was probably made by Gilman Joslin in Boston.
Ref: D. J. Warner, “The Geography of Heaven and Earth,” Rittenhouse 2 (1999): 54-55, 63-64, and 88-89.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1870
Copley, Charles
Joslin, Gilman
H. B. Nims & Co.
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
maple (overall material)
mahogany (overall material)
average spatial: 40.6 cm; 15 31/32 in
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
associated place
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Mrs. Seward H. Rathbun
Additional Media

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