October 29, 2015 / Luxury Lifestyle

The Globemakers: Bellerby & Co.

Patience is a virtue in the business of globe-making. But for Peter Bellerby, the craft's finest custodian, it's worth the time to create a lasting heirloom

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If you've always dreamed of spinning a globe, placing a finger upon it to stop it, and declaring: "That's where we're going on vacation," you need to meet Peter Bellerby. A lifelong fan of maps, Bellerby handcrafted his first globe as a present for his father on his 80th birthday. Today, his company Bellerby & Co. creates limited-edition globes, as well as bespoke versions, and will happily make whatever kind of globe you desire. 

There's no room for error, however small, when it comes to crafting a geographically accurate globe. Photograph: Ian Nolan. Stylist: Sophie Martell. Fabric: Molano velvet in teal, Designers GuildBellerby’s entrance into the world of globes was, in his own words, “Hatched in a pub in [London’s] King’s Cross,” when he decided to make his father’s gift, and to make one for himself at the same time. “It would probably take three, maybe four, months and cost a few thousand pounds,” he remembers thinking at the time.

Reviving something that was becoming a lost art, Bellerby eventually spent 18 months painstakingly researching and rediscovering the techniques of globe-making for himself. During that time, he designed his own world map in Adobe Illustrator, commissioned a Formula One fabricator to make a perfectly spherical mold, and “bribed” a friend [with a globe] to write the program to morph his rectangular map into “gores” – the triangular shapes that fit on to a sphere – before spending over a year applying and aligning the maps by hand.

It is this final element that ignites a particular passion in Bellerby: “There are map-makers who overlap gores to the extent that they wipe out entire countries. Some makers even have latitude lines that look like they have been drawn with a ruler after the map has been pasted on they are so straight. There just seemed little point in spending ages researching a project only to produce a poor-quality finish.

What had initially started as a labor of love soon became Bellerby's next business venture. In 2012 the company staged the first ever globe exhibition at London’s Royal Geographical Society.

Bellerby & Co.'s Galileo globe is based on the famous Blaeu globe, with an updated map. Photograph: Ian Nolan. Stylist: Sophie Martell. Fabric: Molano velvet in teal, Designers GuildAmong the one-off globes Bellerby & Co. has created are a “globe head” for a sculpture of a ballerina by acclaimed artist Yinka Shonibare, which adorns London’s Royal Opera House, and a globe that appeared in Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo. While such unique creations are a specialty of Bellerby & Co., other models, made bespoke and personalized for each customer, include The Galileo (pictured, which is based on the famous Blaeu globe but with a modern map), and the imposing five-foot-high Churchill. Or for something a little more subtle, mini desk globes start at £999 ($1,535). 

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  • Interiors & Design
  • Art & the Artist

Steven Short
is Editor of Christie's International Real Estate magazine

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