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Cornell 9-Inch Terrestrial Globe

Cornell 9-Inch Terrestrial Globe

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The cartouche, pasted onto the globe in the North Pacific, reads “SILAS CORNELL’S / PATENT/ Terrestrial Globe / Made and sold by / S. CORNELL AND / E. DARROW & BROTHER / ROCHESTER / N.Y. / G. JOSLIN BOSTON.”
Silas Cornell (1789-1864) was a Quaker from Long Island who studied at the New York Academy of Fine Arts, and then worked as a surveyor, civil engineer and educator. He began producing globes in the early 1840s. In 1845 he received a patent (#4,098) for a globe mount designed to illustrate “several geographical and astronomical phenomena connected with the motions of the earth.” Globes with this patented mount were advertised as Cornell’s “Improved Terrestrial Globe,” and available in two sizes. The 5-inch sold for $3.50. The 9-inch sold for $10.
The most unusual feature of this example is a set of irregular contour lines indicating the northern and southern limits of wood, grain, the vine, and bananas. These lines are essentially isothermals, and represent the first use of such geophysical information on an American globe.
The globe has a three-footed metal bases and a metal meridian circle.
This example is not dated, but internal evidence suggests that the map gores were engraved at the time Cornell obtained his patent. As Texas is shown as a republic, the engraving must have been begun before Texas was admitted as a state in the Union (1845). The northwest corner of the United States extends as far north as 54° 40’, indicating that the engraving predates the Oregon Treaty (1846) which established the northwest boundary of the U.S. at 49°. Mexico extends up into what is now Colorado, as it did before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848). The map is engraved in black on white, and hand colored. In this example, the colors were added after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) but before the Gadsden Purchase (1853). The cartouche dates from the period 1855-1866 when Erasmus Darrow & Brother were in business as booksellers and publishers, and advertising as “Manufacturers of Cornell’s Improved Globes.”
Ref: D. J. Warner, “The Geography of Heaven and Earth,” Rittenhouse 2 (1988): 55-57.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
mid 19th century
Cornell, Silas
Erastus Darrow & Brother
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
United States: New York, Rochester
associated place
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
average spatial: 24.2 cm; 9 17/32 in
overall: 16 1/8 in x 11 1/2 in; 40.9575 cm x 29.21 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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The patent model for this globe is at Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware

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