February 22nd, 2019


dating globes

There's this bizarre thing where the makers of globes don't date them. They'll put a copyright notice on, I'm looking at "Copyright by Rand McNally" right now, but not the date of the copyright or when the globe was made. Not. A. Single. One.

Which is annoying in terms of data transparency, but does provide a fun game of "can I figure out the period this globe describes?" from looking at the countries. S had an old globe with steamship routes still marked on it; the Central African Empire alone pinned it to a three year period, and the independence of Dominica (not the DR) helped give a Dec 1976-Nov 1978 range.

The place I'm staying right now has an even older globe, with FRENCH WEST AFRICA sprawling over it. It's very detailed, with all sorts of obscure towns, and plane routes, maybe steamship ones. Occasional "highest waterfall" notes, an explanation of the International Date Line, and the solar analemma.

But when is it from? That's actually a bit ambiguous; with the help of an online acquaintance making suggestions, I have it down to Feb-Dec 1958 *or* June-Dec 1959. There are lots of constraints giving a 1958-1960 range, but a couple of conflicting points.

Singapore lacks any (Br.) and has a national capital symbol, but is "Singapore", whereas countries are usually all-caps like "MALAYA". Even states and colonies are usually all-caps... then again, Singapore is a city. Anyway, Singapore gained full internal self-government in 3 June 1959. Meanwhile "CAMEROONS [sic] (Fr. Trust)" puts the globe before 1 Jan 1960.

But over in "FRENCH EQUATORIAL AFRICA" we have subdivisions like "CHAD" (sure) and "UBANGI-SHARI", which was renamed to "CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC" on 1 Dec 1958 (while not being independent yet.) "UNITED ARAB REPUBLIC" spans Egypt and Syria, so it has to be after Feb 1958.

We seem to have a conflict: independent-ish Singapore in 1959, but Ubangi-Shari in 1958.

OTOH, I might be mis-interpreting what it's trying to say about Singapore, or they might have been lazy about keeping up with changes in French Africa.

Oh, Guinea being independent puts it after 2 Oct 1958. So if we ignore Singapore we're down to a two month period in 1958. Pretty good!

There's "DAHOMEY" within "FRENCH WEST AFRICA" but not the (non-independent) "REPUBLIC OF DAHOMEY" which suggests being before 11 Dec 1958.

Separately, there's just "GERMANY", no FDR and GDR. I'd briefly thought it might be a pre-WWII globe, but then I saw North and South Vietnam and Korea. Also Israel. So, no. Both Germanies at the time insisted they were the one true Germany but I would assume that was true of Korea and Vietnam too.

Edit: I also learned some things. Like HADHRAMAUT where eastern Yemen is now, but part of Saudi Arabia. TRUCIAL OMAN, MUSCAT AND OMAN...

Edit 2: The globe has FR SOM, BR SOM, and SOMALIA. Somalia was a UN Trust Territory between 1950 and 1 July 1960, at which point it joined with British Somalia. No indication of trust status on the globe. BR SOM and SOMALIA seem to have a border but are also the same shade of yellow. But it can't be 1960, because Cameroon...

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