Peter Bellerby is a throwback to the days before Google Maps

Before mass produced globes and Google Maps, handmade globes held the monopoly on the navigation market. Now, Peter Bellerby is reviving the dying art.

London-based Peter Bellerby is one of two artisan globe makers in the world and the founder of Bellerby and Co. Globemakers. Bellerby started the company by complete fluke: “I did this as a direct result of looking, searching for a globe for my father for his eightieth birthday and I couldn’t find anything.”

So he decided to make his own globe. The initial plan was to make two globes, one for himself and one for his dad but after spending more money than he had originally predicted (“tens of thousands more”) on the process, he decided to use what he’d learned to set up a company.

With no prior training in the art of globe making, he began making the globes in his dining room. Bellerby had to teach himself everything and quickly learned that hand making a globe wasn’t as simple as he thought: It requires intensely technical skills that are reliant on a steady hand and perfect math.

“It’s been something that’s been an incredible challenge, ,” he says. “The whole design process of making anything using a sphere as its base is fraught with different problems and issues because you’re multiplying every area by pi.”

With the monopoly of the navigation market held by tools such as Google Maps, handmade globes are a niche product. Bellerby has been commissioned by Martin Scorsese to create globes for Hugo, Yinka Shonibare for performance pieces and the Royal Geographical Society for the first ever exhibition on handmade globes.