Geographical Apparatus and Models
Like other fields of scientific investigation, geographical exploration was undertaken on an ever-increasing scale in the last half of the eighteenth century. When the American Philosophical Society was reestablished, Captain Cook had just embarked on the first of his epochal voyages which were to contribute so much to defining more precisely the face of the globe. This redefinition is called to our attention dramatically on a globe (58-40) "containing all the latest discoveries and communications from the most correct and authentic observations and surveys to the year 1799 by Capn Cook and more recent navigators." The globe was presented to the Society by the London instrument-maker, Wm. Jones, in 1800, along with a companion celestial globe.
The geodesist was following closely on the heels of the geographer. In 1764 the Royal Society had resolved to employ Messrs. Mason and Dixon to measure precisely a degree of latitude in America, "in the neighborhood of Pennsylvania." In Europe itself geodetic work was sufficiently commonplace to allow a young man to contemplate making it a career. At the end of the century one of these brought to America his experience in Alpine geodesy, and left with the Society a souvenir of that work, a small plaster model of Mont Blanc (58-41, fig. 10). This visitor of 1805 was Ferdinand Hassler, who was to give an effective foundation to geodetic work in this country.
The interest of the Society in exploration was to be more directly shown in the beginning of the nineteenth century as it undertook to provide a home for specimens collected in the West by Lewis and Clark. These materials, dating 1804-1806, were subsequently lent to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where they may still be found.
18" globes in wooden ring-stands 15 ¼" high. Marked as described below. Received in 1800.