The case against the Globes

Have you ever seen the "Paul McCobb" World Globes? The ones frequently attributed to Directional? The ones with the very nice curved brass frames and a Replogle globe? They really are rather gorgeous, aren't they? There's only one problem, it seems highly unlikely that they were actually designed by Paul McCobb.

Over the past year I have scoured books, newspapers, industry periodicals, furniture catalogs, library collections, etc, traveling around the country where necessary, gathering data about Paul McCobb's work. I have 100's of hours invested in this research. I now have a database containing several thousands of articles from 1936 to 1969 weighing in at a little over 3 gigs of data. One thing I have not found over the past year's research is a single mention of Paul McCobb ever having designed a Globe. With this much information you would think that I might have found some reference, somewhere, anywhere, but as best I can determine there is nothing there, no mention ever of any world globe designed by, or even closely associated with, Paul McCobb.

Having found nothing in the historical record to support the attribution of these globes I dug a little deeper. First I contacted Replogle, the company whose globes were used in these pieces. As it turns out Replogle is one of those rare companies which has A) Never been sold or changed hands B) Maintains an excellent historical record of their work and C) Is quite willing to answer any questions posed. Another great thing about Replogle is that they have a page on their website titled "How Old is Your Globe" which gives detailed information on how to date their World Globes.

Over the course of several e-mails and phone calls I was able to establish that Replogle had never contracted Paul McCobb to design globes, and did not sell globes to Paul McCobb, BG Mesberg National Sales, Directional, Calvin Furniture, H. Sacks & Sons, Winchendon Furniture, Northcraft Lighting, Excelsior Art Studio, or Bryce Originals, which is to say all of the known business entities and manufacturers who did any work in brass related to Paul McCobb's designs and who were likely to have made the stands had they truly been designed by Paul McCobb.

Furthermore, during a series of telephone interviews with Edward Mesberg, who worked for Directional in an executive capacity from the start of the company in 1950 until it was sold in 1994, I asked him about the globes. Mr. Mesberg stated that to his recollection Directional never manufactured or sold a world globe designed by Paul McCobb or anyone else.

Finally, an examination of the globes themselves. As I mentioned earlier there is a very good resource for dating Replogle Globes on their website. There are a multitude of these globes available for sale on 1stdibs.com, all with very good, large, clearly detailed photos. After a careful looking at all of the available photos on 1stdibs.com I was able to determine that in each and every case the Replogle Globes available there dated to 1972 or later.

Now let's add a few pertinent facts about Paul McCobb's life and career into the mix:
  • Paul McCobb's working relationship with Directional ended sometime in or around 1960.
  • The very last furniture group Paul McCobb designed was in 1965 for Paul McCobb Showrooms, after which, according to his daughter Melissa, his failing health prevented his continued working in this capacity.
  • Paul McCobb died of kidney failure in 1969.

Now if only one of the globes had dated to 1972, then there would be the very real possibility that the globe had been replaced due to damage or wear. However, having dated seven of these globes and all of them dating consistently there is only one remaining conclusion I can draw given the evidence at hand:

It does not seem possible that Paul McCobb designed these globes.





Comments

  1. Nice bit of research! Interesting stuff, Jonathan!

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  2. Thanks Scott!

    I hope to one day identify the actual designer/manufacturer of the globes but figured I had enough concrete data to publish my findings at this point.

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  3. That's great research - thank you for posting it!

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  4. Do you have any idea where the attribution to McCobb originated? A globe seems a rather random thing to attribute to McCobb without any basis.

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  5. I think that all misattributions start with someone, somewhere, saying something, like "that looks like a Paul McCobb" from there it's a game of telephone, looks like becomes is over time and distance so that finally we get someone, somewhere saying "that is a Paul McCobb".

    In the case of Paul McCobb pretty much anything made from 1/2" Square Brass tubing is a candidate for misattribution, I have seen lamps, globes, and furniture all attributed solely on the basis of the use of the square brass tubing and nothing else.

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  6. Thanks, this is a great post! A lot of collectors are still convinced these are his. I've sold a few but always attributed them to "unknown" because I'd never seen evidence of McCobb being the designer. One buyer got rather angry when his globe arrived and wrote to tell me that he has a "real McCobb globe" and the one I sold him couldn't be "real" because the brass tubing was slightly smaller...

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  7. Interestingly I recently dated one of these globes to 1991 (a "rare" tabletop version)... I'd love to get my hands on one to go over it carefully and get a true read on what year it was actually constructed. Right now, working from photos on line I have established a baseline of no earlier than 1972 but have dated individual globes to 1974 and 1975 so obviously my work here is not fully completed if I ever wish to find the true manufacturer.

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  8. While I was in LA last week I stopped in at Lawson Fenning and examined two of the globes on their show room floor, one dated to 1976 the other to 1978...

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  9. Late to the conversation, here, but thank you for this well-researched and really fascinating post. I also love digging deeply into these attribution "urban legends" and trying to work out the truth.

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  10. I have one of these globes. It is the World Ocean Series globe with raised topography which I have not come across in any of my "Paul McCobb" globe searches on the Internet. I'm interested in dating it as well and can look it up on the replogle website and take some pictures for you if you would like...

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  11. Go ahead and date your globe using the resources I have provided above. I have no interest in it personally since we have already established that these globes are not by Paul McCobb.

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