The world at your fingertips: Bellerby and Co. globes

Philip Barker
Kettering 52° 23' 55.752" N, -0° 43' 32.988" E

Digital and online mapping may have changed the world, but traditional methods have also had a renaissance, with Bellerby and Co. a fantastic example. We’ve been talking to Peter Bellerby, the man behind London’s premium globe maker, to find what goes on behind the scenes.

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Bellerby and Co. is the company responsible for some of the best, if not the best globes you can currently buy. The handcrafted globes are painstaking put together with a staggering attention to detail, and all the cartography is done in-house.

Customers are often encouraged to add information that can help make their globes unique. Peter explains: “Since each globe is made to order, we encourage customers to communicate to us any special places like their hometowns that might be too small to be on our maps, and we edit the cartography especially for their globe.”

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That attention to detail reaches through to the quality of each and every globe, and Peter adds:

“We constantly research and develop all of our products; we’re always trying to develop new techniques and methods to make sure what we do is the best. We will always try out new systems to see if they are as good as the current ones we employ.”

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The globes are made to the best of the company's abilities, with staff withholding any products that don’t make the grade.

“We don't make compromises,” says Peter. “If a globe is not up to scratch, it won't be sent out. It has happened a few times and can be frustrating when things don't turn out as you hoped, but the rule we have is that we won't send a globe out until we are happy. It means there is a long lead-time but all good things come to those who wait… We want our globes to stand the test of time and be passed down in families as future heirlooms.”

And it’s that handcrafted nature that really helps Bellerby and Co. products to stand out. Peter adds: “I would say we don’t have rivals. The reason I got into this whole project is because there was nobody else making contemporary globes where the entire process was done by hand.”

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“When I was looking to buy my father a globe, I didn’t want to buy him a reproduction of an antique; I wanted to find him something handcrafted and original.”

It was that very present that led to Bellerby and Co. being founded, with a lack of such globes resulting in Peter making one himself. You can read the full story on Bellerby and Co.’s blog.

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Staying up to date

Globes may not be able to offer the same real-time information or detail as online mapping like HERE, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be up-to-date.

Peter explains: “We regularly update the map to take into account things like disputed borders, new countries, new states. We keep up to date with other cartographers and societies.”

“Keep in mind that even on our largest globe most of the place names are the ones that are more fixed in stone (capitols and major city names, for example) and most people would hear about any changes to those in their day to day lives. But we are currently and always re-editing the map.”

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The levels of detail mean there’s also a big difference between making maps and making globes, and Peter adds:

“Whilst our globes have thousands of pieces of information on, our largest globe, the Churchill, has a scale of 10 million to 1, so the level of keeping up to date with the cartography is different from a map maker who might be taking into account every new road.”

Making the world

Watch the globes at Bellerby and Co. being lovingly put together below:

So what next for Bellerby and Co.? Peter points out that the company is aiming to open premises in New York in the coming year or two, along with developing more products:

“Our aim is to solely focus on developing a fuller range of globe sizes and designs,” he concludes, “but in time it may be fun to diversify!”

Image credit: Bellerby and Co. Globemakers

 

 

Topics: Features, Fun maps

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