Over the Fall I won three dozen terrestrial mini-globes on eBay, purchases I justify as 'corporate gifts.' To be honest, they just made me giggle every time I saw them and I get a kick out of giving them away. At one inch in diameter, these are the smallest two-piece, hollow globes I've ever seen. They're pretty hard to date with any accuracy, but labels for Zambia (1964), Malawi (1964), and Rhodesia (1965), imply the last half of the 1960s. These are my favourites because they're so tiny. I can keep one in my pocket in case I have a geographical emergency.

Recently, I won another lot of mini-globes (18 globes in 3 styles) and this batch is much more interesting. The six modern terrestrial globes are larger than the previous ones (1½"), with plenty of room for labels and much better colour. Algeria, which declared independence in 1962, and Ceylon, renamed Sri Lanka in 1972, again indicate a late sixties production.

The 'antique' globes have me somewhat stumped. The geography is early 1500s, with an elongated Western Africa, a huge Antarctic continent, and North America firmly affixed to Asia. The text looks like a combination of Latin and Portuguese (?), but some of the text in the cartouches is definitely gibberish. Still, these antique-style globes demonstrate several of the problems faced by early-modern cartographers, along with some of the stylistic conventions of the period. Various ships dot the oceans, there are nine compass roses with radiating rhumb lines, and a couple of sea monsters threaten Pacific travellers.  I've also just noticed several mythical creatures on the southern continent (a winged horse, a unicorn), examples of monsters and myths being pushed to the periphery. 

The six lunar globes are the largest (1⅞") and probably the most collectable of the lot. There are only about a dozen features named on the Far Side, however there is a scale. (1: 29,000,000) The Near Side is crowded with named features and a tiny, red lunar-lander marks the approximate landing site of Apollo 11.

I don't think any of these globes are very rare, since both sellers seem to have more of the same on offer. For all I know, someone in Asia is cranking them out by the thousands as I write. Regardless, they are good, clean fun on so many levels: inspirational, pedagogical, recreational, vocational, and social.