One of the hardest geographic artifacts to get a hold of are products designed for children. Why? Because kids are really good at destroying things!
Luckily, old globes are well designed and pretty rugged, so it's possible to discover pieces that have survived generations of abuse.
All globes to a degree are designed for children. They visualize the abstract world we live in, and try to make complex ideas approachable.I have three pieces in my collection that are specifically geared towards children, all produced by the same company but with incredibly different looks from a stylistic and functional perspective. Each of them tells a different and unique story of the world at the time of production.
The Secret of Treasure Island globe produced by Replogle in 1938 represents a promotional effort by an early Hollywood blockbuster. It has fantastic art-deco forms and a hinged treasure chest base, which opens and closes smoothly. The globe originally came with a chest key world treasure globe book, allowing children to identify specific treasure points on the globe.
This fantastic children's 'Wonder World' globe measures 10 inches in diameter and was produced by Replogle in 1947. The globe is colorful and bright, and is full of cartoons and caricatures of seaplanes, penguins, steamships, marlins, sea stars, seagulls and more.
This gem is my personal favorite, a Whirling Derby Jet Race Game produced by Replogle in in 1965. The game allows players to become a member of the Jet Set in a race against each other around the world, using miniature magnetic jet airplanes on a real world globe. To travel, players use play money and fuel tokens supplied by the bank. This is a really fun period piece, and best of all it's fully playable!
These pieces illustrate an evolving globe market and changing attitude towards child development. The 1938 globe is childlike in form, but the heavy metal base, geographic complexity, and classic globe colors provide a sense of seriousness. Interestingly, in a time where many countries were preaching isolationism, this piece advocates for the adventure of travel and exploration.
The Wonder World Globe depicts a much lighter look at the world, with fun cartoon characters and easy to understand descriptions of geographic elements. The piece also depicts a more modernized society in regards to transportation, highlighting various planes and boats used to travel around the world,
The whirling derby piece seems to foreshadow the decline in the globe industry. Children were no longer entertained by stationary learning objects, they needed to interactive, exciting, and in the case of this whirling globe - in motion! By turning a geographic teaching tool into a game, the hope was that children might actually pay attention.
In the coming weeks I'll be updating this site with a couple more children globes. Stay tuned...