The truly wonderful part of being a salvage buyer is that when you come to work in the morning, you really have no idea what might turn up that day. Usually it’s the same old ‘old stuff’ you see all the time: a crusty clawfoot tub, a bucket of grimy door hardware with 100 coats of lead paint on it, a gorgeous slipper shade chandelier sadly missing all of its shades. However, once in a while somebody brings in something that not only have you never seen before, but you would never have even imagined existed. That is the case with this remarkable item, a monumental globe for the blind.
This globe was used in a grade school to assist in teaching geography to blind children. It stands about 4 ½ feet high, and the globe itself is around 2 ½ feet in diameter. The topography of the continents is textured, and the meridian lines are raised, to assist in learning by touch. It stands on a lovely (and heavy) cast-iron base. Fortunately for us, it has a manufacturer’s label that tells us it’s from about 1954, so dating it is easy. A little internet research tells us more about American Printing House for the Blind (APH). They are a non-profit company, founded in 1854. They are the oldest such company in the US, and the largest in the world. APH first started making globes like this one after WWII. Among other impressive accomplishments, they undertook to publish the entire World Book Encyclopedia in Braille! They say that the 145-volume set was the largest Braille project ever undertaken.
Even if you knew nothing about the history or origins of this wonderful globe, you would love it. It’s a special piece, both lovely and gigantic. It would look really great in the center of a 14-foot-long black lacquered conference table in your Headquarters for World Domination.™