MUSC Waring Library Show Globes Exhibit


Three-tiered Wayne show globe with etched grape leaf design. Freestanding show globe with pedestal.

Throughout history, professionals have searched for recognizable signs and symbols to represent their occupation.  These symbols serve not only to call attention to businesses, specifically in times of low literacy, but also to distinguish a career field among the rest.  Much like the mortar and pestle as a sign of apothecaries, show globes, glass vessels of varying sizes and shapes, hold a significant and intriguing history as a symbol of early pharmacists.  Although there are many myths surrounding their origins, little is known about these glass globes; their appearance in early British and American pharmacy shop fronts and catalogs demonstrates their distinct place within the community. 

Although much mystery surrounds the origins and uses of these intricate vessels, it is certain that show globes have an interesting history and place within the pharmacy profession.  While their use has dwindled over the years, pharmacy historians and enthusiasts worldwide continue to collect these works of art.