Known to have existed in Classical times and still being made for a mass market, globes represent the oldest continuous technique for picturing the Earth and heavens. Originally aids to philosophy, the Renaissance saw their development as compendia of rapidly expanding geographical and astronomical knowledge, and as instruments of navigation and cosmography. They have been produced as simple spheres and as sophisticated mechanical devices, as toys and as high -status furniture; used as classroom and other demonstrational tools and as a symbol in the art of many periods. Until the onset of modern industrial techniques, their manufacture as plaster, wood or metal spheres was complex and laborious, and the skills required for their graphic construction and publication no less so. The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich has one of the world's largest and finest collections of globes, comprising over 300 items including terrestrial and celestial examples, armillary spheres and planispheres. Many of these themselves derive from earlier holdings, such as the Barberini, Landau, and Gabb collections, which were acquired en bloc for the Museum in its formative years through the activities of its principal benefactor, Sir James Caird (1864-1954). The Greenwich collection has now been fully catalogued by one of the leading authorities on Western globes, Dr Elly Dekker, who undertook the task from 1993 to 1995 as the Museum's first Sackler Fellow in the History of Astronomy and Navigational Sciences. The catalogue includes full entries on all items in the Museum's collection, the overwhelming majority being illustrated. There are also nine introductory essays by Dr Dekker and other NMM specialists, and an integrated section on the Museum's Islamic globes, introduced and catalogued by Dr Silke Ackermann of the British Museum.