Global Domination

The style elements encompassed in “The Thomas Crown Affair” run through the character’s wardrobe, garage, and his study (which is dominated by a magnificent globe).

 

Steve McQueen looking on top of the world as "Thomas Crown" (1968).

Globes have long been the quintessential symbol of planetary exploration and understanding, representing our shared world in all its intricacies. As globalisation continues to shape our interconnected planet, one company stands out as a beacon of craftsmanship in the swirling sea of mass production - the celebrated London globemakers, Bellerby & Co.

 

 

Ptolemy's World Map: created from Ptolemy's book "Geography" (c.150).

Globe making traces its roots to ancient civilisations like the Greeks and Romans, who crafted rudimentary representations of our planet. As civilisations flourished, so too did the art of cartography. During the Islamic Golden Age and the Renaissance, scholars honed their craft, refining the accuracy of globes to mirror the Earth's complexities.

 

 

The "Erdapfel": the world's oldest surviving terrestrial globe (c.1490).

Throughout history, two main types of globes emerged: celestial and terrestrial. Celestial globes depict the stars, constellations, and celestial bodies as seen from Earth's perspective, aiding astronomers in their celestial studies. Meanwhile, terrestrial globes focus on mapping the Earth's surface, showcasing continents, oceans, and geographical features, serving as invaluable tools for explorers and navigators during the Age of Exploration.

 

 

Factory worker at Repogle Globes Inc. Chicago (1955).

By the mid-20th century, companies such as Rand McNally and Replogle were producing globes on an industrial scale for the masses, but the digital age of the 21st century rendered them almost obsolete. However, the allure of physical globes persisted, and those crafted by hand are highly prized. 

 

 

A fine example of a Bellerby & Co globe.

In the modern landscape, Bellerby & Co. Globemakers reigns as a premier authority. Established by Peter Bellerby in 2008, the inspiration stemmed from his quest to find a distinguished globe for his father's 80th birthday. Driven by dissatisfaction with existing options, Bellerby embarked on an ambitious journey to craft his own, igniting a passion for the intricate artistry of globe making.

 

 

Peter Bellerby crafting the perfect sphere.

Bellerby & Co. employs a painstaking process in their craft. Firstly, they meticulously fashion a perfect sphere, a task that sounds simple but proves to be incredibly challenging. Next comes the editing of the map, a step that involves regular updates to cater to each customer's specific preferences. The team works closely with customers, offering personalised design consultations to ensure every detail is captured to perfection.

 

 

Bellerby & Co employees at their Stoke Newington workshop (Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell)

Once the map design is finalised, it is printed and meticulously cut into precise shapes known as gores. These gores are then hand-painted using watercolours, employing a unique technique developed by Bellerby & Co. that imbues the oceans with texture and complexity.

 

 

Preparing the gores (Photo: Guido Bollino).

Attaching the gores to the globe, known as "goring the globe," requires extreme precision and delicacy. Wetting the paper to stretch it onto the spherical surface is a delicate process, as the paper is prone to tearing or rippling. After the gores are securely applied, additional layers of watercolour are meticulously added to enhance the details, followed by a sealing finish of either gloss or matte resin or varnish.

 

 

Goring the globe (Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell).

Once the globe is complete, it is carefully placed into its base. Bellerby & Co. offers a variety of traditional and modern base designs, all meticulously handcrafted in their London workshop. Whether it's a floor-standing pedestal or a sleek desktop base, each piece is crafted with the same level of care and attention to detail, ensuring that every Bellerby & Co. globe is a true masterpiece.

 

 

Preparing the base (Photo: Toby Essex). 

A notable recognition of their excellence occurred when esteemed actor Morgan Freeman visited the company, and was captivated by the craftsmanship and artistry of their globes. His presence underscored the international acclaim that the company has garnered for revitalising the globe-making art form.

 

Morgan Freeman visits Bellerby & Co. (Photo: National Geographic).

With an unwavering commitment to quality and innovation, the company continues to produce globes cherished by collectors, enthusiasts, and institutions worldwide. There is no doubt that if Thomas Crown was refurbishing his office today, he’d be navigating his way to Bellerby & Co.

 

 

Thomas Crown with bespoke handcrafted suit... and globe.

Click here to visit the Bellerby & Co website. 

 

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