In ancient Greece the sphere represented perfection in that it had no beginning or end and thus escaped the corruption of time. It symbolised the divine proffered for contemplation. Since those days, the world has been envisaged in the form of a globe, not only as a cosmogonic vision, a geometric projection and an object of philosophical speculation, but also as a physical representation of the sovereignty and powers of emperors, monarchs and popes. When the world is opened up, when its circumference bursts and when hierarchies are disrupted, what becomes of this representation which after all has been handed down to us? Is declaring it obsolete enough to be freed from it ?Peter Sloterdijk
Inventory of surviving globes

Mercator globes were widely distributed in the 16th century. Sold for over 40 years without any changes being made to the original printing plates, they can be regarded as a true commercial success.

Life of Mercator

Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594) was a visionary and is viewed today as the forerunner of modern mapmaking. He lived in the 16th century, what we now call the “Age of Discovery”, when the Earth as it was then known burst its seams and grew immensely in the wake of exploration.

Works of Mercator

Mercator is usually referred to as a cartographer whereas actually he saw himself as a cosmographer. His goal was not only to draw the Earth as faithfully and accurately as possible but, more importantly, to integrate this view in a veritable cosmos.

Selected bibliography

Our bibliography includes reference works on the history of cartography and representations of the world and the heavens, on Gerardus Mercator and his works and on the globes in general, together with a list of the museums where Mercator globes are on display and websites that we find particularly interesting.

Experts’ reports

All the experts’ reports are made available here. They concern the radiocarbon analyses, the pigments, the X-rays and the restoration.


The University of Lausanne thanks all the individuals and institutions that supported this enterprise for the benefit of culture, education and the preservation of heritage.