The history of globes is a very long one.

Coronelli and the History of Globes
Coronelli and the History of Globes

Globes were originally used for scientific and educational purposes and for the European courts to learn about unknown lands, worlds distant and unimaginable.

The first globes were created by Arab astronomers and cartographers.

Not long ago, I was at the François Mitterand Library in Paris and had a chance to admire two huge globes, dated 1683.

One was terrestrial and the other celestial.

They were by the Italian artist Vincenzo Coronelli. Extraordinary!

I did a little research and learned that Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) was a Franciscan and cartographer. In 1678 he created two enormous globes for Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma.

These globes had a diameter of 175 cm (68.89 in) one terrestrial, one celestial.

A few years later, he moved to Paris where he was recognized as a “master” globe maker in Europe.

Here in Paris, he received an order from the Cardinal de Lestrées, French ambassador to the Holy See, to make two globes like those of the Duke of Parma, but larger.

These globes were for Louis XIV, the Sun King, to embellish the Royal Library of the Palace of Versailles.

Coronelli did his bidding and made two enormous globes. They had a diameter of about 4 meters (157 in) and weighed two tons each, one celestial, one terrestrial.

These globes were so large that they had to build special rooms large enough to display them.

These very globes are the ones I admired at the François Mitterand Library in Paris.

They are now in the Bibliotèque Nationale de France.