Homann's rare pocket armillary
By HOMANN, Johann Baptist , 1702

Globus terrestris. juxta observationes Parisienses Regia Academia Scientiarum constructus.

  • Author: HOMANN, Johann Baptist
  • Publication place: Nuremberg
  • Publisher: Opera loh. Bapt. Homanni Geographi
  • Publication date: c1702-1715
  • Physical description: Globe, 12 hand-coloured engraved paper gores, over two wooden concave hemispheres, paste-board armillary sphere inside, housed within original black morocco over paste-board clamshell case, decorated with fine gilt daisy flower tools and fillets, with hook and eye, lined with two sets of 12 hand-coloured engraved celestial gores. Short split to globe in the northern hemisphere with early repair. In addition to the terrestrial and celestial globe, this pocket globe features a rare armillary sphere, which is revealed by opening the hollow wooden terrestrial globe.
  • Dimensions: Diameter: 64mm (2.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 15651


The earliest state, previously unrecorded, of Homann’s only known pocket globe, here with rare ‘nesting’ armillary.

Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) was a German geographer and cartographer. He was educated as a Jesuit and destined for an ecclesiastical career, but converted to Protestantism and then worked as a notary in Nuremberg. He founded a publishing business there in 1702, and published his first atlas in 1707, becoming a member of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin in the same year. He collaborated with Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr on his book ‘Kosmotheoros’, which represented the solar system based on the Copernican system laid down by Christiaan Huygesn.

Homann was appointed Imperial Geographer to Charles VI in 1715, and produced his great work the following year, ‘Grosser Atlas uber die ganze Welt’. Homann was well placed to take advantage of the decline of Dutch supremacy in cartographic publishing, and he became the most important map and atlas producer in Germany. After his death, the company was continued by his son Johann Christoph. When Johann Christoph died in 1730, the company continued under the name of Homann Heirs until 1848.

Homann is only known to have produced one pocket globe. Although the present example reflects an earlier issue than previously identified, it does not include Homann’s title as Imperial Geographer, which he received in 1715. The globe features cartography plotted from recent observations of the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris. In addition to his collaboration with Doppelmayr, Homman published the gores of George Christoph Eimmart’s globes in his atlases, which would have provided additional cartographic information. The equator is graduated and shows ecliptic and prime meridian. None of the Antarctic continent appears, nor is there a coast to northwestern Canada, or eastern Australia. “New Zeeland” and “Diemans Land” are shown only in part, and California is shown as an island.

The celestial cartography appears on the inside of the clamshell case is graduated in degrees, the ecliptic is graduated in days of the houses of the Zodiac with sigils and the constellations are brightly coloured and depicted by mythical beasts and figures and some objects, with names in Latin. A cartouche gives the stars and nebulae to six orders of magnitude.

Armillary sphere
The miniature armillary sphere, with graduated meridian and three latitudinal bands, contains a miniature sun at its centre.
Rare. Only one institutional example is known: that in British Library, although the BL example exhibits different form of the armillary sphere.


  1. Sumira 22
  2. Dekker and van der Krogt, pl.20.