Annoyed not to find a globe of the earth, worthy of the name to offer, the British Peter Bellerby decided to make one, without suspecting that he had a vocation and was going to meet fans all over the world. In the space of ten years, his company Bellerby and Co, became a manufacturer of globes desired, with products tailor-made that appeal to heads of State, multinational corporations, and individuals. “Nobody builds really globes like ours, in connection with the customer”, explains to the AFP Peter Bellerby, as you discover his workshop of nearly 400 square meters nestled in a quiet street of London.

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The place is overflowing with globes in the course of development by its team of a dozen people, composed of illustrators, painters, cartographers, engravers and other specialists working in wood. All these artisans are busy for that at the top of their head a series of strips of paper drying on the clotheslines. Everything started by chance, in 2008, when he set out in search of a beautiful globe of the earth, for the 80 years of his father. “This is not a career that we think one day,” says Peter Bellerby, before adding: “I’m really proud of what we have accomplished”.

The largest room offered, with a diameter of 127 centimetres, has been inspired by the globes made by the american army during the Second world War for president Franklin Delano Roosevelt . NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP

At its beginnings, the former real estate developer, it produced just a handful of globes each year in a small shop nearby. Now, his company produced 600 balls per year, some for large houses or to be exhibited on board of yachts. The styles and prices vary, but you would have to pay at least 1200 pounds (1300 euros) to acquire one. The most expensive can reach 79.000 pounds (more than 88.000 euros).

Expected to withstand up to 200 years

Peter Bellerby has put more than a year to find the right formula and refine its know-how. As for his apprentices, they need about a year to learn the business before being entrusted with the manufacture of the precious globes. It is a true work of goldsmith, which begins with the supply sphere virgin mary, made of resin or a composite material, with another company. This is the only step that is not performed by the craftsman. Then, the illustrators and cartographers working months or even years with the client to decide on the patterns that appear on the cards, with requests for drawings ranging from animals to ships.

large format printers, which use ink that can withstand 80 to 200 years, are used to refer to the contours on a special paper designed to be immersed in water and stretch. Then the paper is carefully cut, hand painted with watercolours and placed on the globe before being varnished or even with a mat effect.

The globes to the most luxurious ones are mounted like real furniture with a tablet that has a rule of degrees and calendar indications. NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP

“The real difficulty is to stretch it around a sphere a piece of paper that has all the chances of tearing,” says Peter Bellerby. The last step is to assemble the globe on its base, which is traditionally a wooden axis set on a small table, or, increasingly, have to put it on a pedestal, capable of manipulating it at will in order to see all its faces. The process can take from a few weeks up to 18 months depending on the size. The customer can even follow the step by step process on the account Instagram of the company.

The largest room offered, with a diameter of 127 centimetres, has been inspired by the globes made by the american army during the Second world War for president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and british Prime minister Winston Churchill. “It is probably the largest globe printed ever made”, says Peter Bellerby. He discovered, moreover, that the mapping can be a mine field of geopolitics, not to mention changes of names of countries.

customs officials in India have even briefly confiscated a globe, unhappy with the way in which was traced the border between their countries and Pakistan. Several customers have asked not to include Israel on the map, that politely refused to make Peter Bellerby. “The problem with the mapping is that each country has its own idea of the world”.