Hello Gatherers! Today, we jump back into The ABC’s of Gathering with a brand new alphabetical theme!
What is The ABC’s of Gathering?
The purposed of this series is to give you all kinds of inspiration and encouragement for decorating with “gathered” (vintage, thrifted, found) objects.
Have you ever found something that piqued your interest at a thrift store or flea market, but you weren’t quite sure how to make it fit into your home? Maybe you didn’t buy it and you’ve always kind of regretted it, or maybe you did bring it home, but it’s still tucked away in a closet…
In the past, we’ve covered topics like “A is for Art“, “C is for Chinoiserie“, and my favorite to date, “F is for Furniture.” Each post is packed full of inspiration images from tons of different talented bloggers, decorators, and designers, as well as information and tips – so hopefully you will finish reading with lots of new ideas for incorporating these kinds of finds in your decor!
G is for Geography
I’ll let you in on a little secret… The whole time I was pulling this post together, I was stuck on the name “G is for Globe.” I knew I wanted to incorporate both globes and maps, but hilariously, the word “Geography” eluded me until I sat down to finish writing this post!
In today’s post, you’ll find beautiful inspiration images for decorating with vintage globes and maps, a little backstory on geography in general, as well as resources for figuring out the dates of your vintage globe finds and the best online resource for printing your own FREE vintage maps!
All photos not my own are used by the permission of my gracious friends. You can read more by clicking on each picture or the link in the caption below – if you want to pin one of the images for inspiration, please click through and pin from the original source.
A Quick History of Geography
Did you know… the oldest world maps we know of were made in the 9th century B.C. in ancient Babylon?
Who else remembers learning that everyone thought the world was flat until Christopher Columbus set out to prove it wasn’t by sailing all the way around? Before that, all those silly scholars thought you would just sail over the edge of the world, right?
But did you know… the oldest globe we know about was actually made almost 3,000 years earlier than Chris’s famous journey across the ocean blue?
Granted, the ancient world might not have had a very accurate understanding of all the continents or coast lines, but people have been picturing our planet as a sphere and trying to hold the whole world in their hands for thousands of years!
How to Date a Globe
So now we know that if your globe is round, it was made sometime after the 2nd century B.C… (Okay, okay – a little history humor for you right there!)
Sometimes, you’ll be lucky enough to find an actual date printed on your globe or map, usually beneath the logo of the manufacturer, but sometimes that information is missing and you get to do a little historical sleuthing to determine the approximate (or sometimes exact) date of manufacturing.
Cities are renamed, countries change their boundaries or are absorbed – and you can use the dates that these changes happen to figure out if your globe/map was made before or after these events!
Here are two online resources for you to bookmark, that contain lists of major events that impacted cartography:
For example, I was able to date one of my globes to 1930 or 1931 thanks to these two events:
- In 1930, Constantinople became Istanbul
- The territory of Central Australia only existed on the globe from 1926 to 1931
Because my globe has both Istanbul and Central Australia on it, I know that it was made after Constantinople was renamed, but during the time period when Central Australia still existed as a territory.
It takes a little careful combing and perhaps brushing up on your geography a bit, but it’s also pretty fun to play detective!
20 Ways to Decorate with Vintage Globes and Maps
Are you ready for a positive deluge of inspiration? Not only did I want to show off to you all sorts of fun globe and map possibilities, but as I was pulling this together, I was also really looking for images that showed them in context.
So you found a really cool globe or map… Now what?
This globe with a tall stand adds height to Stephanie’s entryway vignette and emphasizes her global eclectic style. The black background is unusual and attention-grabbing – keep an eye out for globes with different colors!
Stephanie also used a petite globe (also with a beautiful black background) to style her coffee table to perfection:
Jane found this globe at an auction – the top portion opens up to reveal a cocktail bar within! Paired with a black and white hanging map and rich colors, it helps to create a classic study/lounge vibe in this room. (P.S. You absolutely must visit the full home tour of her incredible 17th century farmhouse renovation! You will swoon!)
Globe + flowers + sculptural accessories = a winning combination for any surface. It definitely doesn’t hurt matters at all if that surface is a well-worn card catalog! By Lisa, @curiositieshome on Instagram.
Corinna’s standing globe adds interest to an empty space to the left of her vintage credenza in her layered Boho living room. This is another globe with non-traditional colors – I’m absolutely loving the soft neutrals in here!
And what’s that? Another globe that breaks the blue and green color scheme? Can you spot the red globe in Ariel’s brilliantly colorful living room? It’s the perfect additional dash of whimsy.
Let’s just call this a roundup of globes that aren’t blue, shall we? Julia found this amazing black acrylic globe for $3 at Goodwill. It was practically destined for her stunning black and white living room!
What if you’re lucky enough to amass not one or two, but an entire gathering of globes? I love the way Maggie grouped them in the window in her former living room. They’re a pastel echo of the other colors used throughout the room!
And her current living room has globes sprinkled throughout as well. Groupings of three fill shelves in this built-in bookcase and desk area – a beautiful palette of blue, and aqua, and turquoise.
More can definitely be more when it comes to compiling vintage treasures, as this gorgeous vignette from Kristy shows! She shared that her husband used to teach history and geography, so the vintage globes and maps they gravitate towards in their decor hold added personal meaning.
Globes and maps are a popular choice in children’s rooms – they are beautiful and educational, after all – like this incredible vintage map Charlotte hung in her son Oliver’s bedroom.
Or this boldly colored hanging map that’s a perfect fit for Gretchen found on eBay. It’s the perfect fit for her son’s National Parks-inspired room:
Is there anything more adorable than this globe on a stack of colorful books with a gold giraffe on a mini baby grand? This kiddo is going to be a genius, I just feel it!
Hanging maps are a great way to add a huge piece of art to your room. Dena found two enormous vintage maps rolled up in a tube together for $20! She hung one in her master bedroom and one in the guest bedroom with a DIY frame, hung on a vintage spool of thread.
I thought this would be a fun contrast to share – same room, different decor, and two different globes. The top is vibrant, colorful, and more youthful. The bottom, which is how we staged the room when we listed the house, is more mature and sophisticated.
What do both have in common? A vintage globe on a vintage bentwood chair, a pairing I absolutely adored.
This jewel-toned globe in Claire’s glamorous eclectic bedroom plays off the other saturated colors on her dresser and the brass base echoes the sconces on the wall above. Even though the sconces are the only matching pair in this vignette, it feels very symmetrical because the globe balances the height of the mini peacock chair on the other side.
Vintage map meets vintage window frame in this creative yet super easy display idea from Kristy of Robb Restyle! It gives a new meaning to the phrase, “A window to the world,” doesn’t it?
Sometimes you find vintage globes in less than ideal condition. (For example, I have one that’s splitting down the equator and is missing a chunk of the Atlantic ocean thanks to an errant blob of chewing gum.) Cassie cut this vintage globe into quarters and turned it into succulent wall pocket planters in a stroke of genius.
Beth turned half of a gorgeous vintage globe into a one-of-a-kind piece of art with a message spelled out in bits and bobs and ephemera! This just might be one of my favorite globe upcycles ever, you guys!
Finally, I’d like to wrap up today’s roundup with this shot of Melissa’s stunning industrial glam bedroom. She found the vintage public-domain map of New York online and had it printed on canvas, and her talented husband added the hand-lettered quote from Hamilton on top!
FREE Vintage Map Images
Which leads me to something I promised you at the very beginning of the post… The BEST online resource for FREE vintage map images! I swear, this site is the best kept secret ever – it boasts a dizzying 70,000 (seventy thousand!) historical maps and images, the vast majority of which are licensed for personal use via Creative Commons and can be download at sufficiently large file sizes for printing large-scale art! >> Bookmark for later <<
Are you pumped?!
So many brilliant ways to display, repurpose, and celebrate vintage maps and globes!
I’d like to extend a huge “thank you” to my wonderful friends who allowed me to include share their beautiful photography in today’s post! It’s something I do not take for granted, since I know how much work goes into their content, so I hope you’ll help me spread the love by visiting their posts and finding some wonderful new decorators and designers to follow!
As always, I would love to continue the conversation, so if you’d like to share how you incorporate vintage geography tools into your decor, you can share on Instagram using #ABCsofGathering, #GisforGlobe. That way, all the images will be aggregated in one spot and we can all admire your geography-inspired decor!
P.S. While you’re waiting for the next round of The ABC’s of Gathering, “H is for…”, would you consider sharing this post with your friends on Pinterest?