Accession No


Brief Description

4-inch (100mm) terrestrial globe, in silver, purportedly by Paulus de Furlanis, c. 1575, but actually a modern fake, c. 1925


Italy; Verona [purported]; England [tentative attribution]


fake, unknown maker Paulus de Furlanis [purported]



Earliest Date

Jan. 1, 1920

Latest Date

Dec. 31, 1927

Inscription Date


metal (silver, with rhodium electroplating)


d 100 mm

Special Collection

Robert Whipple collection


Purchased by Robert Stewart Whipple from Antique Art Galleries, on 03/08/1927. In 1955 Derek de Sola Price, as part of his research into possible fakes in the Whipple collection, wrote to Antique Art Galleries asking them to provide details of this object and others’ provenance. Their reply indicated only that this object had come to them through “A private cash purchase in London” [see OHF for copy of letter].


‘Paulus de
Surlanius Veronensis (?) opus hoc expn Cosmographi
Dno Iacobi gaslaldi Pedemontani
Instauravit et dicavit exti
tur Vr Doctj et aurato AEquiti
uno Paulo michae-li
Vincention’ (cartouche)

Description Notes

4-inch (100mm) terrestrial globe, in silver, purportedly by Paulus de Furlanis, c. 1575, but actually a modern fake, c. 1925 (see work by Jenks and notes on XRF analysis).

2 hemispheres with notch catches. Degree scale around the equator divided 0 - 360˚, numbered by 10˚. Tropics marked as ‘Tropicus Cancri’ and ‘Tropicus Capricorni’.

Condition good; complete.

[NOTE: On 06/12/2013 XRF analysis was conducted on this instrument. Results and analysis are given in the ‘Notes’ field and in the OHF. The very low lead content in the silver and the c. 2.6% Rhodium present indicates that this is a modern silver object that has been Rhodium electroplated. Rhodium was only discovered in 1804 and was prohibitively expensive until the early 1920s, when it began to be used by silversmiths and jewellers to plate silver to give a shiny finish that does not tarnish. Thus the XRF analysis corroborates the contention already made by Rob Jenks that this globe is a modern fake (see ‘Object reading’ field) -- Josh Nall, 18/12/2013.]



In 1927 the founder of this Museum, Robert Whipple, purchased what he believed to be a rare and important 16th century Italian globe made in silver. Whipple paid a considerable sum for the globe, and it was soon announced in the Geographical Journal as a rare and important survival from the very earliest era of terrestrial globe manufacture.

But suspicions arose when recent researchers noticed that the ‘silver’ of the globe had not tarnished over time. Closer inspection suggests that the globe could, in fact, be a late 19th century fake. Latin inscription on the globe reads: ‘Paulus de Furlanis of Verona made this work of the most excellent cosmographer Master Jacobus Gastalus of Piedmont and dedicated it to the excellent Doctor of both Laws and Knight Bachelor Master Paulus Michaelis.’ Both Paolo Forlani (1560–1574) and Giacomo Gastaldi (1500–1565) were well-known Venetian map-makers. While the inscription was copied from a well-documented Forlani map based on Gastaldi’s work, the source of the globe’s cartography is from terrestrial globe gores made by Antonius Florianus (1555–1570). The cartography depicted on the globe does not match the maps or globes produced by the supposed maker of the globe: Forlani. The writing engraved on the globe is in the modern style, which only came into use after 1690. Most intriguingly, the size of the globe does not match the size of the original map gores upon which the cartography is based; however, the globe’s size does match exactly with a smaller reproduction of the gores that was published in 1889.

To confirm their suspicions, curators at the Whipple Museum subjected the globe to scientific tests in 2015, using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis to test its metal composition. The XRF results showed that the globe was made from a pure sterling silver typical of the nineteenth or twentieth century. Even more damning, the globe was found to have been electroplated with rhodium, a jewellers'’ technique first developed in the 1920s to deposit a fine layer of rhodium onto silver to prevent it from tarnishing. It therefore seems likely that the globe was manufactured shortly before Whipple purchased it, as a deliberate forgery intended to deceive an enthusiastic but non-expert collector.

Created by: Joshua Nall on 20/10/2016


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