The Hunt-Lenox Globe

One of the greatest rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, the Hunt-Lenox globe was prepared around 1510 by an unknown artist. This small globe (about five inches in diameter) is the earliest surviving engraved copper sphere from the period immediately following the discovery of the New World. It is among the first cartographic representations of the Americas known to geographers. Of the two continents in the Western hemisphere, only South America is actually represented, appearing as a large island with the regional names Mundus Novus (the New World), Terra Sanctae Crucis (the Land of the Holy Cross), and Terra de Brazil (the Land of Brazil). Cuba appears as "œIsabel," and the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti (Hispaniola) appears as "œSpagnolla." North America is represented as a group of scattered islands.

Holes at its polar points suggest that it was originally fixed to a rod, possibly as part of an astronomical clock. The globe is named for the architect Richard Morris Hunt (architect of the Lenox Library) and for the collector and bibliophile James Lenox. Hunt discovered the globe in France (purchasing it for the proverbial "song"), brought it to America in 1855, and later presented it to his patron, James Lenox. In 1937, the globe was mounted by the Library in a bronze armillary sphere.

Terrestrial globe (Hunt-Lenox Globe). Copper, engraved. Western Europe, ca. 1510.
The New York Public Library, Rare Book Division, from the Lenox Library.

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