|Frederik Akrel & Anders Akerman — Untitled (“Celestial Globe”) and Globus Terraquerus|
|Untitled (“Celestial Globe”) and Globus Terraquerus
Published: Stockholm 1780
Dimensions: Height (in stand) 37 in.; diameter 30 in.
Groundbreaking Swedish Globe Pair
These globes, produced under the protection of the Swedish Academy by Anders Akerman, are monuments in eighteenth-century globe making. The Cosmographical Society founded in 1758 laid the foundations for the start of Swedish globe and map production. Akerman, an engraver by trade and one of the Society’s members, was almost single-handedly responsible for this development. The globes he produced were not merely copies of existing globes, but were drawn on the basis of new observations.
Akerman was influenced by the scientific accomplishments of members of the French Academy, and like that learned society, the Swedish Academy actively supported the geographic activities of their members. For Akerman and his globes, the most influential of these projects was the comprehensive work on cosmography published in Uppsala in a collaborative effort by S. Insulin, the astronomer Friedrich M. Mallet, and the geophysicist and mineralogist Torbern Olaf Bergman. These
academicians sought to promote map and globe making in Sweden through the Cosmographical Society, “Kosmografiska Sallskapet,” founded in 1758. As luck would have it, Akerman - an accomplished engraver with an interest in the mathematical sciences - was one of the Society’s members. With the financial backing of the Society, Akerman set up a workshop for the production of globes. His first globes, a terrestrial and a celestial one, were published in 1759. The scientific information for the terrestrial globe was provided by publications of the Academy members and others, whereas the celestial globe
incorporated the latest available star catalogs of the English astronomer John Flamsteed and the French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille. Flamsteed’s Catalogus Britannicus, published in 1725, was the first star catalog to be based on observations made with the aid of a telescope, and Akerman supplemented the information he gleaned from that work with data from Lacaille’s highly accurate catalog of 1756.
Akerman’s first pair of globes received the approval of the cosmographical society and was offered for sale at a price considerably less than that for foreign globes. With further funding from the society enabling him to take on two apprentices, Akerman continued the production of his globes. In 1762 he designed a pair with a diameter of 41/2 inches; four years later he produced a pair of globes with a nearly two-foot diameter. With the production of these globes, Akerman's workshop was under financial pressure despite several more subsidies. Commercially he was not doing well, probably because to serve the local Swedish market his globes had to be too inexpensive to allow financial solvency to their maker.
Akerman died in poverty in 1778. His workshop became the property of the Swedish state and Frederik Akrel, engraver and long-time assistant of Akerman, was appointed its head. When Akrel took over the workshop, its financial sponsorship also shifted, from the Cosmographical Society to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. In 1779 Akrel published a new, revised version of the one-foot globes, incorporating the latest discoveries, including those of Captain James Cook, and in the ensuing years improved versions of the other pair of two-foot globes followed. The present pair represents an early improved version, published in 1780, of Akerman's largest and most impressive globes. The terrestrial globe in interesting from a cartographical point of view because it is one of the first modern maps to show the Torres Strait (between Australia and New Guinea). After its discovery in 1606, this strait had fallen into complete oblivion. Under the influence of the geographer Torbern Olaf Bergman, one of the founders of the Cosmographical Society, various thematic elements from physical geography were added to the map, such as the
vegetation (woods), the direction of trade winds and
monsoons, and the ocean currents.