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Astronauts, ecologists, and bands are splashing out up to $100,000 on luxury custom-made globes

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A painter adding details to a globe by Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Euan Myles/Bellerby & Co Globemakers

  • Bellerby is a luxury London globemaker that counts astronauts, YouTubers, and artists among its customers.
  • Its most expensive globe costs nearly $100,000. It’s 50 inches across and takes up to six months to make.
  • One customer even asked for a globe to be made as a urn for her father with his ashes inside.

A luxury London globemaker that sells it most expensive model for £69,000 (around $86,300) says it counts astronauts, ecologists, and artists among its customers.

Bellerby & Co. Globemakers makes more than 500 globes a year, which can take the company’s team of cartographers, painters, woodworkers, and globe makers up to half a year each to make.

A man paints a globe in the studio of Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Marc Mitchell/Bellerby & Co Globemakers

The cheapest and smallest model is its pocket globe, which has a 4.7-inch diameter and starts at £1,290 (around $1,600).

On the other end of the scale, its biggest and most expensive model has a two-year waitlist. It measures 50 inches across, takes up to six months to make, and costs £69,000 (around $86,300) for a rotational version that can spin 360 degrees by hand or £79,000 (around $98,800) for a traditional version that comes with a table and a globe meridian.

A woman painting a large globe surrounded by smaller globes at Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Euan Myles/Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Most of the cost comes from the labor required to make the intricate globes by hand. All Bellerby’s globes are “entirely bespoke,” with illustrations painted on by hand, head globemaker Eddy da Silva told Insider. Each globe goes through at least five sets of hands.

Customers come from all walks of life and include YouTubers, astronauts, and writers, with many people buying them as gifts. Three globes were even commissioned for Martin Scorcese’s film “Hugo.”

The globes have been shipped all over. Some globes have been shipped to Peru, Cambodia, and even a remote island in French Polynesia. They’ve also gone to castles and vineyards.

A row of globes made by Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Toby Essex at CliQQ Studios/Bellerby & Co Globemakers

As well as being practical, “a lot of people very much consider them as pieces of art,” Peter Bellerby, the company’s founder, said. “The beauty is they can interact with it the whole time. It’s a more engaging piece of artwork.”

The company declined to share personal details of its customers, citing confidentiality reasons, but told Insider about some of the most interesting globes it had made.

A celestial globe made by Bellerby & Co Globemakers showing mythology

Marc Mitchell/Bellerby & Co Globemakers

One of Bellerby’s customers was an ecologist who wanted Earth to look like it did during the Ice Age. Bellerby used its existing map as a starting point and then added overlays of ice sheets, the continental outlines as they were 21,000 years ago, and the locations of his research team’s field sites. They also added some illustrations, including a mastodon, a giant ground sloth, a glyptodon, and a woolly mammoth.

Many globes are commissioned to mark special occasions, including as wedding gifts. One customer in 2013 ordered a globe to propose to his partner with instead of a wedding ring because of her interest in maps and globes.

A woman painting a globe for Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Jade Fenster/Bellerby & Co Globemakers

German billionaire Reinhold Würth, the chairman of the Würth Group, was given a 50-inch globe by his children for his 83rd birthday, with illustrations showing places important to him and his family, places he’d traveled, and the locations of his businesses. As a former professional pilot globemakers used his flight logs, as well as his diaries, to compile the placed he’d been. The globe is displayed in the Group’s headquarters.

Last year one customer even asked for a globe to be made as a urn for her father, a ska drummer. The 8.7-inch globe was sealed with his ashes inside. It traces his flights between St. Kitts, where he was born, and the UK, and is decorated with a hand-painted illustration of him drumming.

“We loved this idea as the globe can be touched and interacted with, and makes one feel closer to their loved one compared to a standard Urn,” Bellerby said in a blog post at the time.

A staff member at Bellerby & Co Globemakers sticking a map onto a globe

Euan Myles/Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Some globes are given as corporate gifts, including private jet companies and airlines giving globes to their biggest flyers and hotels gifting them to upper management, including for leaving, retirement, holiday, and anniversary presents.

Other customers include journalists who want to trace their work travels, heads of state who want to illustrate their achievements, an artist who incorporates the globes into his work, and a band that wanted a record of its global tours.

“After so many years of mass production and throwaway objects, I think people are really embracing quality items that will grow with them through every stage of their life now,” de Silva said.

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