Robb Design Portfolio: Sphere of Influence

In 1827, while exhibiting his products in Washington, D.C., globe maker James Wilson declared himself the preeminent American practitioner of his craft. Wilson went on to claim that he had achieved "such a degree of perfection" in his work that importation of globes from London, the trade’s epicenter at that time, was no longer necessary. The craftsman’s high opinion of his work—and of himself—has proven justified over time. "If a globe collection means anything," says George Glazer, a Manhattan-based dealer of antiquarian globes and maps, "it includes a Wilson."

Wilson favored American materials for his globes, the cores and gores of which were shaped, colored, and engraved by hand. His company built this 13-inch-diameter terrestrial version—which is available from George Glazer Gallery (212.535.5706, www.georgeglazer.com) for $30,000—in 1822. The globe charts the then-developing American West with now-antiquated names such as Arkansaw Tery and Missouri Tery, details left off of English models from the era.

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