Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going Globe-l - Architectural Artifacts, Post 6

I spent an inordinate amount of time tinkering with this old globe.

When I started shooting it, it was up on a shelf in the window.  Obviously the problem with that is that it leaves the globe backlit.  So I moved it to the floor.  Which had the incredibly odd problem of the floor being the same shade of aqua as the water on the globe.  Also, weirdly, apparently globes are shinier than you'd think.  As matte as they look when you're looking at them, they have a nasty glare when you try to use the flash.

Anyway, if you look at this globe, you can see that it's more than just a few decades old.  Even with the current changes in certain political regions, it's been quite a while since most of northern Africa was one large political body called "French West Africa".  I loved to look at maps and globes as a kid.  I remember being ridiculously excited when I got a political map of the world for my wall when I was in about third grade.  And while a fair number of the African nations I learned from that map are no longer either in existence or going by the name they had in the late 70's, I don't remember "French West Africa."

You can also see at the top that most of eastern Europe is bright orange.  It's labeled USSR.  Now *that* was on my map in third grade.

So I got on a bit of History Hunt.  When was this globe made? 

I couldn't find *anywhere* that listed a copyright date.  I found the map maker and where it was made (go, Chicago), but I couldn't find anywhere what year this globe was made.

So I started shooting regions I knew went through changes between the time the USSR was formed and dissolved.

One clue was that Vietnam is still two countries.  It's the purple and green countries on the left hand side of the shot, under China (the big yellow one).  So that means we're sometime after 1955 and before the two were reunified after the Vietnam War ended in 1976.
Also of note, East and West Germany.  Though they were separated from 1950 until 1990, so that actually widens our time frame.

So I went back to map of Africa, knowing that there was a lot of change over a short time there.  The smallest detail caught my attention first.

 The little yellow country I've drawn an arrow to is listed as Río Muni.  I wasn't able to find a lot about this region other than the Wikipedia article that said: Río Muni became a province of Spanish Guinea along with Bioko in 1959.  I couldn't find *anything* that listed it as ever being an independent country, the way it's shown here.

What I did find in this same region was that if you find Gambia, there was a city-name change in 1973.  Bathurst is renamed Banjul.  On this map it's still Bathurst.  Which lets me know, at the very least, this map is older than I am. :p

In further poking I find that The Ivory Coast was liberated from French control in 1960.  So now we're somewhere between 1955 and 1960.

Ghana was made an independent country in 1957 and it's already here as its own country.  So we're between 1957 and 1960.

Also in 1960, the area to the west and at the top of the map, is marked as Senegal, but still shown as part of French West Africa.  In 1960 Senegal and Mali form a union and become independent, but the union collapses before the end of the year, leaving Senegal as a new country.

So... after all this, I'm guessing this globe was made to reflect the best information the mapmaker had in 1960.

I'm not sure if they moved fast enough that the new cartography could be done and the globes printed and assembled within the year.  It's possible this is the political distribution of 1960, but the globe may not have been actually produced until 1961 or '62 or whatever.  It's also possible that for something like this - clearly a school globe of general information - that they may not reprint or reformat every single year.  It might have been made in 1963 because there wasn't any 'significant' - and I mean 'significant' to the American mentality of the time - changes that needed to be reflected yet.

So... yeah, this is what I do on a Saturday afternoon.  I troll through history trying to figure out inconsequential things like, "When was this globe made?"  :)  It keeps me off the streets.  (Especially when the streets are covered with snow this morning and are only about 10 degrees F. )


  1. hey this is pretty clever detective work on your part! Neat! i would have probably done the same thing, but might have given up long before you did. :-)

  2. Thanks! Glad to know someone was interested. :) I love history and maps, so this was fun for me. :)