“The vendor brought along a number of objects and was unsure if her recent purchase was anything of significance. I expected to pick up a modern reproduction but I was instantly struck by the engraved gores, which indicated it might be authentic.”
Bringing the year to a spectacular close, it took £116,000 (plus premium) at auction on December 16.
Spencer’s research revealed that the papers to this diminutive terrestrial globe followed those by François Demongenet (fl.1550-60), a contemporary of Gerard Mercator.
Demongenet, who lived in Vesoul in eastern France, is not well known as a globe maker, but his printed gores were widely disseminated and became the source for many of the engraved silver and gilt metal globes made in Augsburg and Nuremberg in the later 16th century.
In 1552, Demongenet published a set of woodcut terrestrial and celestial gores that could be used to make small globes with a diameter of around 3½in (9cm), followed with a revised set engraved on copper plates issued c.1660. In the 2001 edition of Mapping of the World, Rodney Shirley records six different states.
The 12 gores on this 3½in (9cm) globe appear to follow Demongenet’s fourth state. Japan is called Sipannge; islands near Java are termed Gryforum Insule; North America is marked Devicta ann 1530 and South America as Nova Terra Inventa anno 1492 and Canibales Tropophagi.
It depicts a world before Australia had been discovered by Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon in 1606. The country appears as part of a southern land mass called Terra Incognita.
The globe had several areas of old restoration (the cartouche that may have revealed a signature is lost) but it was largely original with the turned wood cradle and horizon ring deemed right for the period.
It emerged the globe had been acquired privately this year by the vendor for just £150 as part of the estate of Jill Croft Murray, widow of Major Edward Croft-Murray (1907-80).
‘Teddy’ Croft-Murray, a former Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, had served among the ‘Monuments Men’ during the Second World War and published many articles and reference books during his long career, including the catalogue of Venetian drawings at Windsor Castle compiled with Anthony Blunt.
Croft Murray was survived by his second wife for over 40 years and she kept the collection intact at the couple’s home in Richmond, London, until her death last year. Tribal art and pictures from the collection were sold by Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury in June and August 2021.
The globe (its earlier history unknown) prompted plenty of interest at its £20,000-30,000 estimate and ultimately a number of bidders who hoped to buy it for under £100,000.
The hammer eventually fell at £116,000 (over £145,000 including 25% buyer’s premium) to a private buyer in New York bidding online against another US bidder on the phone.
A gilt brass terrestrial globe based on Demongenet’s gores sold for £150,000 at Christie’s in 2017.