How to Clean and Maintain Your Antique Wooden Globe or Replica



Photo of a bar globe in a home office
The Italian Supremo bar globe from Zoffoli’s GEA collection look like a vintage replica, but the world globe features a current world map.

Would you park your 1923 Duesenberg on the street instead of in your garage, or take your brand new Aston Martin to an automated car wash? I hope not. Select treasures, both old and new, demand attention – no matter what they are.

Cleaning and maintaining the condition of a wooden globe, whether it is an authentic antique or a vintage replica, requires diligence and know-how. You may think you don’t need to be as careful with a reproduction as with a 16th or 17th century original, but this is not necessarily so. High quality replica wooden globes and bar globes are usually made by skilled craftsmen who have been using many of the same methods and materials for thousands of years, so proper maintenance is

How to Clean Your Antique Wooden Globe

Inspect your globe before cleaning it and proceed only if there is no damage or weak spots.

To remove dust, wipe the surface gently using a soft, dry cloth. Don’t use spray or furniture polish. If you notice areas that are beginning to peel, have it repaired. The cloth can catch one of these areas and make matters worse.

If your antique needs more than a bit of dusting, here’s our 2-step, easy-to-follow instructions on how you should clean it: 1) Don’t 2) Find an experienced, reputable conservator to clean and/or restore it.

The web has many suggestions about how to clean antiques written by people claiming to be specialists. Unfortunately many people ruin their cherished treasures by following their advice. Improper cleaning can destroy the map on an antique globe, so make sure any “specialists” you consult really do know what they’re doing.

Professional conservators can do quite a bit. They can retouch and stabilize it and repair the shell. If the map has missing or damaged pieces, these can often be replaced with printed reproductions that are tinted to match the rest.  Sometimes conservators can even reduce or even reverse discoloration and yellowing.

How to Clean Your Vintage Globe Replica

High quality vintage-style replica globes need to be cleaned just as carefully as authentic antiques, because more than likely the map of your wooden globe will have been made in a similar manner. This consists of using printed pieces of paper called paper gores, adhering them to the shell, and then varnishing them.

Inspect your globe before cleaning. To dust, gently wipe the surface with a soft, dry cloth. If you see peeling or weak spots, have it repaired first – cloth can get caught on one of these areas and increase the damage.

If dusting is insufficient, clean the surface of the globe with a dry, soft cloth. Work in small sections, wiping away (don’t scrub) loose dirt. For excessive stains, try moistening a soft cloth with plain water but be very careful. Read the section below, because sometimes some dirt or stains are preferable to a damaged globe.

Wring the cloth out extremely well or spray water onto the cloth (never onto the globe). The strength of varnish has come a long way over the centuries, but that doesn’t mean your globe is completely sealed and waterproof. Excess moisture left on the surface may be soaked up by the map, so don’t allow any water to sit on the surface. Dry the area immediately with a soft, clean cloth.

If this still isn’t enough, you can risk mixing the water with a bit of mild soap or detergent and repeating the steps above. Cleaning without causing damage depends on how careful you are, what potentially harmful materials are in the detergent, and how well your globe reproduction or bar globe replica has been manufactured. Never use harsh or abrasive materials or solutions containing alcohol or solvents.

The “Old World” in Old World Globes Is Often Nothing More Than Old-School Marketing

by Rita Dapkus-Sproston for


Photo of nautical globe bar
Sixteenth Century Replica Italian-Style Globe Bar, 22″ Nautical Globe

“Old World” has become a term that is often used loosely (too loosely in my opinion) to characterize something that’s old or classic instead of depicting the specific era it’s from. But period details shouldn’t be vague or misleading when given in reference to a world globe – either it’s Old World or it isn’t.

The number of stores and websites that use this term incorrectly in product descriptions of globes, especially for antique-style reproductions and bar globe replicas, amazes me. I sometimes wonder if the retailers don’t actually know what Old World really means, don’t bother to learn about the products they sell, or are just using the phrase for added appeal and counting on you to not know the difference.

Using the word “old” to depict the world during a particular period of time only came into practice after the term “New World” was coined by Pedro Mártir De Anghiera, an Italian-born historian of Spain.

In 1493, Mártir sent a letter to Cardinal Ascanius Sforza in Italy to report on the voyages of Christopher Columbus. The letter, dated November 1, 1492, contained reference to the “New World.” Mártir mentioned the New World again in his second letter to the Cardinal the following year.  

Giovanni da Verrazano also used the term in “The Written Record of the Voyage of 1524 of Giovanni da Verrazano as recorded in a letter to Francis I, King of France, July 8th, 1524,” and Mártir’s accounts on first contacts between Native Americans and Europeans were later published in 1530 in a collection called “On the New World” (De Orbe Novo).

Before Christopher Columbus made his first voyages in the late 15th century, people thought the earth consisted only of Africa, Europe, Asia and the surrounding islands known to medieval geography. This supercontinent, collectively known as Afro-Eurasia, is the Old World.

As far as the New World goes, you might think it includes everything discovered during and after the Age of Exploration that followed the Columbus voyages, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. The New World refers only to the Western Hemisphere, or rather the Americas.

Technically, Oceania (including Australia) and Antarctica are neither New World nor Old World because both terms were already in use by the time the lands were discovered by Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries.

It would be my guess that the majority of original Old World globes which survived to this day are in museums or historical societies. And from what I’ve seen on the market, most globes and bar globes that are accurate replicas have map reproductions from the 16th, 17th and later centuries, especially the nautical models.

In essence, an Old World globe or replica portrays a map of the earth as it was known during the 15th century or prior. So if you happen to see someone selling one with America or Australia on it, don’t hesitate to give them a little lesson on world history.