U.S. Customs Destroys Custom-Made Globe Suspecting It Carried Contraband

Peter Bellerby is one of the world’s last remaining traditional globemakers. In 2008, he was unable to find a globe he wanted to present to his father for his 80th birthday. The antique orbs he found were being auctioned off for exorbitant amounts, and Bellerby quickly spotted a gap in the market. That’s when he learned everything he could about the archaic craft of globemaking, finally opening his own company, Bellerby & Co., in London. In just over a decade, he’s gone from being a one-man band to a team of 26, and his stunning, hand-painted globes sell for more than $78,000 in their largest format, with a waiting list currently at 14 months. The globes often require the work of up to 18 craftspeople, with the company making about 500 globes a year. While the United States is the company’s biggest market, it’s also the country that’s given the company their biggest headache. When the company first began, they used lead weights in the globes. Unfortunately, U.S. Customs opened one of the globes, suspecting it of carrying contraband. Bellerby received a call from his client, who explained that she had received the globe but some of the countries were in the wrong place. An investigation later revealed that the customs agents had glued the globe back together incorrectly. Needless to say, the lead weights are no longer used.