PETER BELLERBY – HANDMADE GLOBES
One of the themes we hear time and again from our featured guests is their gratitude for the glorious times in which we are living, the boundless opportunities we have on our interconnected globe. In ancient times explorers would courageously set out on the arduous path of discovery, mile-by-mile creating the maps we would one day follow. In sharp contrast, our modern times present no such challenge. Our world has been fully mapped and is accessible at the click of a link. With the entire world at our fingertips, our daily trial is to narrow down such overwhelming prospects and make thoughtful choices regarding our own paths.
One recent Sunday morning, with plenty of other options on my plate, I took the healthy path of visiting the gym. Upon my return, about twenty minutes later, my wife asked me to watch the replay of a feature I’d missed on CBS Sunday Morning. It was about London-based, Bellerby & Co Globemakers, one of the world’s last remaining companies devoted to the artisan craft of hand-made globes.
As travel advocates, we’ve always discussed owning a beautiful globe so I was especially interested in the segment. What I learned is that Peter Bellerby and his small cadre of talented craftspeople are busy creating more than just globes, they are reawakening a nearly-lost talent by fashioning exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces of priceless, spinning artwork.
From the time he was a child, Peter Bellerby was surrounded by the artistic talents of both his mother and grandmother. While he dabbled in the meticulous craft of violin-making, his keen interest in geography remained dormant. Upon leaving college in the mid-nineties, he moved into Central London and engaged in a myriad of vocations including in the television industry, renovating and selling houses, and partnering in a music club, bar, restaurant and bowling alley venture which he described as “unplanned and very cool.” He was succeeding by any measure, yet his creative spark had yet to be stirred.
In 2008, needing a break from the grind, Bellerby set off on a six-month journey around the world. During this time, he began searching for the perfect gift for his father’s upcoming 80thbirthday. He became enamored of the idea that a globe would forever memorialize their times and places traveled together. But he was unable to find anything close to suitable for such a lofty mission. His futile search led him to realize there were two types of globes on the market, either antiques that were wonderful but too fragile for use and much too expensive to own, or, the modern day versions generally made of cringingly poor quality.
Being a hand’s-on, fix-it type of guy, Bellerby decided he would make the globe himself. He would make two globes, in fact, one for his father and one for himself. After all, how hard could it be to make a ball and glue a map to it? He soon found out how hard, discovering that making the perfect sphere and then properly “goring the globe” was essentially a lost art that he would need to rediscover.
Moving forward with the project became an all-consuming drive for perfection which transformed the family home into a studio workplace. It took Bellerby a year-and-a-half to realize that constructing the “perfect” globe would cost substantially more than he could spend, even for so significant a milestone. By now though it was too late to stop the gyration. He just knew his globes would one day exist.
He also had come to understand that to make his globes both superb and affordable, he’d need to scale up production and thereby lower the cost of each finished product. And just like that, he was scaling up and in the business of resurrecting the lost art of fine globemaking. His quest to give his father the perfect gift had cost him a small fortune and two years of his life, but it had also fueled a latent fire never again to be extinguished.
At first, Bellerby’s sold just a handful of its finished pieces. But as small business owners must do, or die, the proprietor quickly schooled himself in sales and marketing skills while judiciously building out his perfect support team. By hiring only “passionate, stubborn and patient people,” he soon completed both the artistry and marketing end of the chain.
An impressive website soon followed and with the serendipitous hand of a nascent ‘global’ social media revolution, news of their superior products traveled the world and their globes soon followed. From nearly shutting down production in 2013, Bellerby & Co Globemakers is now back-ordered and will valiantly ship over 750 globes in 2019. Their treasures are owned and collected by both common folk, like myself, and the rich and famous as well. These uniquely useful artifacts have even made cameo appearances in movie and television productions worldwide.
Bellerby’s globes range in size from mini desktop models with a diameter of roughly 8.5 inches to their ‘Churchill series’ floor model measuring 50 inches in diameter, and everything in between. Pricing ideas can be found on their website (www.bellerbyandco.com), or with a call to their helpful staff.
They boast a wide selection of colors, finishes and bases which can be personalized in virtually any way their customer’s desire. It typically takes from several weeks up to six months from the time of order to when the customer is carefully removing their prize from the appropriately protective travel luggage.
From the library-hushed atmosphere of a warehouse studio in north London, Bellerby & Co Globemakers is reaching back to an earlier time when explorers and mapmakers roamed the earth. By studiously reviving the ancient craft of fine globemaking they are improving our world now and into perpetuity. This makes Peter Bellerby and every member of his revolutionary company Throomers’ Rock Stars.