[Set of Terrestrial and Celestial Globe Gores]. François DEMONGENET.
[Set of Terrestrial and Celestial Globe Gores]
The Transmission and Legacy
Of New World Discovery for Over a Century
The 1552 Woodcut Terrestrial and Celestial Globe Gores
Of François Demongenet
Among the Earliest Dated Globe Gores to Depict America
France (?), Demongenet, 1552

[Set of Terrestrial and Celestial Globe Gores].

Two leaves of woodcuts [29.6 x 18.8 cm the terrestrial, 29.0 x 15.1 cm the celestial], (12) celestial and (12) terrestrial gores with a zodiacal ring and black borders. Contemporary annotation in margin of terrestrial gores, faint evidence of folds visible on verso with some evidence of support at a later time, woodcuts in fine, dark strikes.

Extremely rare first and only edition of the French physician and mathematician François Demongenet’s important 1552 set of woodcut celestial and terrestrial globe gores, the starting point for what Dekker termed, “the Demongenet tradition in globe making” (p. 69) which would prevail for more than a century. These woodcut gores (for globes measuring 8.75 cm in diameter) quickly inspired several versions printed from copperplates, which in turn spread Demongenet’s influence across Europe. Separately issued gores of this sort were ephemeral both by their physical nature (loose paper leaves meant to be cut up) and because rapid advances in geographical knowledge during the Age of Exploration typically meant that ‘new models’ quickly eclipsed older globes, making the survival today of these Demongenet gores all the more remarkable. Only a handful of globe gores were printed between the famous Waldseemüller gores of c. 1507 – the first to depict America – and Demongenet’s woodcut of 1552, a set which is unusual for being precisely dated in the block.

A contemporary Latin annotation on the leaf of Demongenet’s terrestrial gores provides a ruled ‘scale’ (accurate to the millimeter) showing the radius (‘semidiameter’) of a sphere needed to construct these globes, suggesting that the sheet’s original owner contemplated cutting out the gores for mounting.

The little known of Demongenet’s life comes from the article of M. G. Marcel published in 1889. Demongenet was born in Vesoul, France, and at the university there he studied medicine, mathematics, geography and cosmography. While working in Besançon, Demongenet likely made the acquaintance of consellier Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle (1486-1550), a man who provides “a connecting link between De Mongenet and Mercator, remembering that the latter dedicated his globe of 1541 to [Granvelle]. The suggestion of Mercator’s influence on De Mongenet appears quite evident on a comparison of the outlines of their globe maps … The draughtsmanship which the terrestrial map exhibits in all parts, as well as that exhibited by the celestial, displays skill of very considerable merit. The general outline of the New World’s coasts is quite as well done as any of the maps of the day, the Pacific coast line of North America sweeping in a great curve northward and northeastward, while a great broad stretch of ocean separates the continent from Asia” (Stevenson, pp. 147-48), features notably associated with the 1541 Mercator gores.

In 1552 Demongenet’s geography (and celestial cartography) were current. He labels North America “baccalea” and “Hispania mayor,” labels South America “America,” and provides a note off the Pacific coast of Central America referring to the 1530 return of Cortez (‘F: Cortesio”). In about 1560 Demongenet published an engraved version of his globe gores (with the names of different dedicatees), perhaps in Venice and perhaps executed by the noted engraver Enea Vico (see Marcel, pp. 36-7). The c. 1560 engraved gores labeled more features but retained the geography of the 1552 woodcut gores. Already by 1561 Demongenet’s name was well known, when Girolamo Ruscelli in his La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino praised the “piccol globo” of “Francesco di Mongenetto Borgognone” (p. 32). Several further engraved copies appeared in Italy in the subsequent years, spreading Demongenet’s reputation (see S. Bifolco and F. Ronca, pp. 306-17).

Although their geography was originally derived from Mercator, these engraved iterations of Demongenet branched off into a cartographic lineage responsible for “an important non-Mercator tradition” (Dekker, p. 69) of early globe making. The “copper engraved celestial gores of Demongenet were adopted as a model for the globes made by Georg Roll in co-operation with Johann Reinhold, by Giovanni Antonio Vanosino, Petrus Aspheris, and Nicolas Spirinx. Also makers of printed globes, such as Johannes Oterschaden and Guilielmus Nicolai, copied Demongenet … In turn, the mapping of their gores served as models for the globes of Hans Christoph Schissler Junior and Isaac Habrecht III. New editions of the Oterschaden gores were published around 1650 by Paulus Fürst in Nuremberg and, some time after 1637, new copper plates were engraved for a celestial globe by an anonymous maker for which the Oterschaden served as the example … The existing manuscript [i.e., hand-engraved metal] globes indicate that the use of the Demongenet tradition was widespread. Vanosino and Aspheris practised in Italy; Nicolai and Spirinx in the south of France; Isaac Habrecht III in Strasbourg (where Oterschaden may also have worked); and Roll Reinhold, and Schissler worked in Augsburg. When looking at the dates involved, one finds that they extended roughly from the middle of the sixteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century. By 1600, however, the cartographic imagery had become completely outdated” (Dekker, p. 72). Dekker further notes that such anachronistic imagery on undated “Demongenet-tradition” globes has often caused scholars to erroneously date them far earlier than their likely date of manufacture. This surprising longevity of the Demongenet tradition is intriguing, suggesting that the Demongenet form retained a certain nostalgia reflecting a first flush of exploration which later makers/buyers of globes preferred to the most up-to-date information of the 17th century.

Only a handful of globe gores were printed between the c. 1507 Waldseemüller and the 1552 Demongenet woodcut – e.g., Louis Boulengier, c. 1514 (Lyon?), Anonymous, c. 1518 (Ingolstadt?), Anonymous, c. 1530 (Nuremberg?), Anonymous, c. 1535 (Nuremberg?), Georg Hartmann, c. 1530 (Nuremberg?), Gemma Frisius, 1536 , Caspar Vopell, 1536, Cologne, Mercator, 1541, Louvain (see Shirley) – and only the Frisius, Vopell and Mercator are earlier examples carrying a precise date in the block/plate.

Modern scholars knew Demongenet globes only through the engraved versions (produced from 1560 on) until 1887, when the Munich map/globe dealer Ludwig Rosenthal discovered a sheet of the woodcut gores dated 1552 (now in the New York Public Library). Rosenthal published a photographic facsimile of these Demongenet woodcuts, which spread their fame and encouraged further research. Twenty-five years later Stevenson recorded the 1552 Demongenet woodcuts at the New York Public Library, British Library, in the Library of Count Pilloni in Bellino (Biblioteca Civica di Belluno) (terrestrial only) and at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg (terrestrial only). Subsequently an example of the woodcut gores has been found at the Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg. The Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments (inv. no. 1997-1-2060a) records a set of built globes using the 1552 Demongenet design, but the globes seem not to be of early manufacture and thus warrant closer inspection: “It is probable that at a later date (perhaps during the nineteenth century?) the gores were cut out of a book and assembled in their present form” (waywiser.fas.harvard.edu/objects/12019).

We find no market record for these 1552 woodcut globe gores since the Rosenthal discovery of their existence.


Note that Nordenskiöld published an edited image of the 1552 Demongenet gores stripped of their black woodcut borders, a photo reproduced in Shirley which has led to the erroneous assumption that a borderless version exists.

* Shirley no., 93, p. 106; E. Dekker, “The Demongenet Tradition in Globe Making,” in Globes at Greenwich, pp. 69-74; M. G. Marcel, “François De Mongenet, Géographe Franc-Comtois,” Bulletin de géographie historique et descriptive / Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques,” no. 2 (1889), pp. 31-9; L. Stevenson, Terrestrial & Celestial Globes, pp. 147-50; S. Bifolco and F. Ronca, Cartografico e topografia italiana del XVI secolo, vol. 1, pp. 306-17 (engraved); M. Fiorini, Sfere terrestri e celesti di autore italiano, oppure fatte o conservate in Italia, (Rome, 1899), 153ff.


Price: $45,000.00

See all items by