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Geography has always fascinated me. The dynamics of the world seem to be constantly in flux. Old maps reveal how much has changed in just the last 100 years. Countries have been formed, divided, liberated, and renamed. The Africa of the early 1900s was a continent divided between the western empires and claimed for foreign royalty. This was the era of adventures into darkest Africa. I love reading old Safari novels and imaging what it would have been like to witness such vastness of unblemished savanah and rainforest. Unfortunately, the world will never hold such mystery and romance again. But why not stir up those feelings of wonder with a vintage map or globe? Perfect for planning all those dreamy expeditions.

Photo by Simon Upton from the book “A Passion for Collecting”

Photo from Apartment Therapy

Globes can add a pleasant circular element to a typically square enviroment. I can hardly resist the urge to gently spin a globe, tracing imaginary flights across great expanses of oceans and land. Globes have been made in many appealing colors and sizes throughout the years. Grouping a variety of green, blue, tan, and black globes together makes for an eye-catching display.

With the ever-changing politcal geography, many people donate their old globes to thrift stores. But when they’re being used for decor and not education, we don’t mind if Rhodesia is still in Africa or not! If you find a globe in disrepair, you can turn it into an art piece by decoupaging animals, stamps, and luggage labels onto it. Above is a globe I created for my etsy store last year.

School pull-down maps are typically quite large and look striking in any room. (Hang one above your bed in place of a head board!) Newer, working pull-down maps can be utilized as window coverings for a quirky twist. Older canvas maps are rare and should be kept away from direct sunlight and hung safely on the wall.

Above is a large 1922 map of Africa that fills one wall of my apartment. The rich earth tones help to warm up my husband’s studio nook. The enormous size is hard to see in this photo, with the only reference being the full-size amp below it. Appropriately, Indian Jones and his bull whip hang nearby. I love the wear and tear on the map from all the years of students. On the top portion, there are tiny fingerprints from grade school students who used this in a New England schoolhouse 90 years ago.

I love the colors of the map above. Unfortunately, pull-down maps seem to be in vogue right now, so you’ll have to hunt around for a steal. Another option is to find a large map and hang it from two dowel rods, giving the same effect as a classroom map.

Up next, the final part of this series: Textiles and Rugs..