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Desktop Globe Stuns Seller

December 23, 2021
small antique globe

A very lucky lady will have a very happy holiday and most likely go on a bit of a spending spree, all thanks to a rare desktop globe she purchased for a mere £150.  The seller watched the online auction of her globe, sipping a glass of wine, excitedly waiting for the hammer to fall.

She had recently purchased the pint-size globe (just 3 1/2 inches in diameter) at an antiques fair and decided to bring it along with several other items to an auction house for a valuation. Initially, the auction house thought it might be a reproduction, but after some research, they realized the globe dated to sometime around 1550 to 1560 and was quite a rare find. It was one of the oldest terrestrial globes and likely the oldest to sell at auction.

So many places had yet to be discovered when this globe was created; Australia wasn’t discovered until 1606, Japan appears as Sipannge, and North America is notated as Devicta ann 1530 (or conquered in the year 1530). In addition, there are depictions of sea monsters, as people believed that creatures lived under the sea.

The auction house traced the provenance to Major Edward ‘Teddy” Croft-Murray (1907-1980), one of the Monuments Men. He was an expert on British art, working at the British Museum as Keeper of Prints and Drawings. No one knows how Croft-Murray acquired the globe or how it made its way to the antiques fair, but the historical importance of the globe enticed the auction house to estimate the value at £20-30k.

An intense bidding war broke out as the lot came up for sale. Five phone bidders were competing against numerous online bidders, and when the battle was over, a New York buyer added an exceptional terrestrial globe to their collection. In the end, the seller must have been absolutely stunned as the hammer came down at £116k!