The infamous Maxwell Moon Globe strikes again!

In November 2002 I acquired, through private transaction since the reserve price wasn't met, a moon globe offered on e-bay by a German globe reseller, [email protected] . Here are the relevant screen captures (click on the images for the full screen captures).


This seller does seem to offer similar globes from time to time on e-bay. Some times, these globes do sell for respectable sums. Here is, for example, the screen capture of a december auction by the same reseller: the globe sold for $515. (click on the images for the full screen captures).

These globes are usually in stellar condition and are undoubtly a valuable piece of the history of space conquest. There is a catch though: they are intentional fakes. Bear with me for a moment.

When I bought my globes - yes, I bought another globe from the same reseller - I decided to pay a visit to the reseller (I live in Belgium, he lives in Germany, about 400 miles from me). There, the moon globe's perfect condition, constrasting with its mount, struck me. I decided to go ahead anyway, promising myself to investigate this fully as soon as possible.

Here's a detail of the globe I bought. Note the latitude graduation on the plastic holder, slightly unusual for a moon globe... Note that the globe is virtually spotless.

And another detail of its suitably weathered bakelite base.

I was aware that a company called Greaves and Thomas was offering high quality fac-simile of historic globes and decided to continue my investigation by buying their moon globe fac-simile. Here are both globes, side by side. In both cases, the Greaves and Thomas globe is on the left, the supposed Raeth Globen one on the right.

As you can see, the similarities are striking. Both globes, side by side, are almost identical (there is some variation in the way the gores are glued, that is understandable since this type of globe production remains a manual process). Since Greaves and Thomas has bought the rights to the Raeth Globe and they're expert globe makers, one could think they managed the perfect replica... But wait, see that yellowihs spot on the supposed Raeth Globen globe? Let's take a closer look

Bingo! This discoloration mark is precisely where the Greaves and Thomas "Fac Simile" warning is normally glued... hence the Raeth Globe is just a Greaves and Thomas in disguise... It's possible that the seller, [email protected] was himself misled by some other unscrupulous seller. One never knows... somewhat unsurprisingly, his reserve prices are significantly higher than Greaves and Thomas retail prices.

[email protected] has some interesting sense of humour though: in his descriptions, he systematically mentions that "similar pieces have been sold at Christies London and Amsterdam during the past years" and that they make perfect Christmas Gift. Guess what? He is right! Greaves and Thomas fac-similes are of such a high quality that they have actually been sold at Christies, far above their retail value.

Actually, I have to say that I am not unhappy about my purchase. I knew I was threading on thin ice when I met the reseller, I physically saw the globe before shelling the money out and the price wasn't too high above Greaves and Thomas's.

Still, I strongly advise anyone shopping for quality fac-simile globes to contact Greaves and Thomas directly: just as nauti91probaby is, I am now their satisfied customer.

Pierre - December 25, 2002{*).

(*) Why this publication date? I too have some sense of humour and thought it would be a perfect Christmas gift ;-)