Newton's smallest globe
By NEWTON, [John] , 1818

Newton's New Terrestrial Globe.

  • Author: NEWTON, [John]
  • Publication place: [London
  • Publisher: J. & W. Newton, 66 Chancery Lane]
  • Publication date: 1818.
  • Physical description: Globe, 12 hand-coloured engraved paper gores, over a papier mâché and plaster sphere, with metal pivots, housed in shagreen over paste-board clamshell case, rim painted red, with hooks and eyes, lined with two sets of 12 hand-coloured engraved celestial half-gores. A few areas on the globe with varnish chipped.
  • Dimensions: Diameter: 51mm (2 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 15735


A fine example of Newton’s tiny 51mm (2 inch) pocket globe.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the firm of Newton, together with Bardin and Cary, occupied a leading position in the manufacture of globes in London. The firm was established by John Newton in 1783 and operated originally from the Globe & Sun 128 Chancery Lane, moving to 97 Chancery Lane in 1803, before settling at 66 Chancery Lane in 1817.

John Newton (1759-1844) was trained by Thomas Bateman (fl1754-81), who had previously been apprenticed to Nathaniel Hill (fl1746-1768). Newton’s first globe was a revised edition of Hill’s 1754 pocket globe, which he published in 1783 in association with William Palmer. The partnership dissolved shortly after, and Newton continued to publish the pocket globe under his own name. John’s second son William Newton (1786-1861) joined the firm between 1814-1816, which traded under the name J. & W. Newton. In the same year the firm produced a new series of globes, including a new pocket globe.

By the 1830s the firm was also active as a patent agent and was joined by Miles Berry, a civil engineer and patent agent, after which the firm was known as Newton, Berry & Son. In 1842, William’s eldest son, William Edward Newton (1818-1879), joined the business, followed by his brother Alfred Vincent Newton (1821-1900). The firm became known as W. Newton & Son, or once again, on the death of William, as simply Newton & Son from 1861 until about 1883.

Perhaps the greatest triumph for the Newton family was the Great Exhibition of 1851, where, aside from the globes they exhibited from 150 to 635mm (1 to 25 inches) in diameter, they were awarded a prize medal for a manuscript terrestrial globe of six feet in diameter.

This globe is one of the smallest produced by the Newton firm measuring just 51mm (2 inches) – this particular example does not include his Chancery Lane address. The ecliptic is graduated in days and shows the symbols of the houses of the zodiac. The meridian is labelled “Meridian of London”, and the oceans show the tracks of Captain Cook’s three voyages. The discoveries of Matthew Flinders, before he was captured by the French in 1806, are apparent in the coastline of Australia. Van Diemen’s Land is separate from New Holland, and “Port Jackson” and “Botany Bay” are both marked, along with “French Dis.” along the South Australian coastline.

The sphere lines the inside of the case and shows the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon, as well as the position of the earth relative to the sun at each season.