Catalog Archive
Auction 187, Lot 54

Superb Model Demonstrating the Movements of the Earth and Moon

"[Orrery with 3-inch Terrestrial Globe]", Philip, George

Subject: Orrery, Globe

Period: 1900 (circa)


Color: Printed Color

14.5 x 8.8 inches
36.8 x 22.4 cm
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This is a superb example of an orrery, a mechanical model that demonstrates astronomical motions. This orrery, also known more specifically as a tellurian, includes a 3-inch globe and a tiny white moon that are attached to brass gears that can be turned using a hand crank to simulate the rotation of the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun. The sun is meant to be represented by a candle that can be inserted into a small hole at the center of the base, with a small mirror to help project the light of the flame. Both the mirror and candle holder are removable from the base. The base is constructed of cast iron, with the stand lacquered in black with gold decorations, and a 9.5-inch round platform with a geared perimeter that features rings with raised lettering indicating the months of the year and the seasons, with a compass rose at center. Surrounding the compass rose is a ring stating "Parkes and Hadley's Patent Orrery." The stand also includes a small brass plate for George Philip & Son London & Liverpool.

The 3-inch globe has 12 gores and includes a tiny cartouche in the south Indian Ocean: Terrestrial Globe Carefully Compiled from the Best Authorities. George Philip & Son, Ltd. London. Made in Germany. Although details are sparse on this small globe, major rivers and cities are named, and ocean currents are shown. In North America, big cities are named, including New York, Boston, Washington, Quebec, St. Louis, Chicago, New Orleans, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Interestingly, only the state of Texas is named.

William Parkes and Thomas Hadley advertised their patented orrery to educators in England as a hand-held device that could be used for teaching the "diurnal and annual motions of the earth, motions and phases of the moon, tides, eclipses, cardinal points, &c." to fulfill the code of regulations of the Education Department. Their orrery was touted as the "cheapest, strongest and most perfect machine in the market." On 1 March 1892 Parkes and Hadley also secured a patent (#470,074) for their tellurian in the United States.


Condition: B+

The globe is lightly soiled and has some rubbing. It appears that a piece that screws on top of the globe to secure it is missing. The moon has some tiny chips to the white paint. The brass gears show age wear and are a little stiff but still fully functional. The tip of the mirror that sits on the base has been cleaned to remove old glue residue. The paint on the cast iron stand is rubbed in a few spots and the platform shows wear consistent with age.

Estimate: $2,000 - $2,500

Sold for: $3,000

Closed on 4/27/2022