A most unusual and original educational terrestrial sphere c. 1924 – Betts’s portable Globe

A most unusual and original educational terrestrial sphere c. 1924 – Betts’s portable Globe


One of the most unusual terrestrial spheres produced, this artifact demonstrates ingenuity at its best. As standard spheres required a certain amount of space, this globe was promoted with its space saving ability, collapsible, utilizing the principle of an umbrella. This unique feature was especially desirable to single room educational facilities.

Due to its fragility, few and far in between models have remained. Those who have are mostly preserved in museums, including the Smithsonian National American History Museum and the Globe Museum of the National Library.

A true artifact for the discerning collector.

SKU: 1115BETT24 

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In spite of being imperfect, we are thrilled to offer this rare artifact, a true museum piece worthy the restoration.

Extremely scarce and very unusual, Betts’s portable Globes are so desirable that replicas have been produced and sold to be original. We, being experienced in the industry can confidently authenticate for this model to be original.

The most recent sale of an original Betts’s in similar condition and age, including pine container (at a reputable auction house in London in 2013) achieved a price of 625 British Pounds, roughly $1000.


History of the Globe maker:

Description by the Smithsonian national American history museum:

John Betts (fl. 1844-1875) was a London publisher who specialized in inexpensive educational goods. He obtained a British patent (GB 1338) for “Collapsible Geographical Spheres” in 1856, and began advertising his patent portable globe soon thereafter. This example was produced by George Philip & Son, a publishing firm that was established in London in 1834, and that was still offering Betts’s globes in the 1920s.

With this particular artifact identifying St. Petersburg, Russia, as Petrograd but also as Leningrad (which it changed to in 1924), it is clearly made in 1924/25. More likely one of the last pieces produced.



John Betts, A Companion to Betts’s portable globe and diagrams (about 1850).John Lanman, “Folding or Collapsible Terrestrial Globes,” Der Globusfreund 35-37 (1987): 39-44.Elly Dekker, Globes at Greenwich (Oxford, 1999), pp. 276-278, and 444-447. Smithsonian American History Museum.



A 16-inch diameter terrestrial collapsible globe, marked Betts’s Patent Portable Globe. The sphere is made of silk cloth, with a 8 color screen-printed map and is mounted on a black enameled brass umbrella-type frame with suspension loop.



While the mechanics are fully functional and colors extremely well preserved, the cloth has aged, become brittle in some sections and therefore is torn. Stitching restoration is needed.


$239    SKU #1115BETT24