However, there was another moon globe that should have been made by the infamous Robert Maxwell’s company, Pergamon Press. It is not known if this globe was ever actually made beyond the preliminary acetate artworks, as both Rath and Pergamon Press have very vague archive information. Greaves & Thomas acquired these acetates from Rath Globen in order to produce this fine example of early planetary exploration. “Maxwell’s Moon Globe” is 33cms (13″) in diameter and is presented on a hand turned ebonised stand, similar in design to the original German example. It is a unique icon of the Space Race and its ensuing politics.
Robert Maxwell and his Moon Globe
From his birth to his death, Robert Maxwell’s life has been surrounded by controversy and obscurity. Born into an impoverished Jewish family as Ludvic Hoch in the then newly formed Czechoslovakia in 1923, little is known for sure about his early life. What is known is that he arrived in England in 1940 after a perilous journey through Southern Europe and the middle East. He enlisted into the British army as private Ivan du Maurier (taken from a packet of cigarettes) and soon rose to the rank of sergeant under the aliases of Leslie Smith, and Leslie Jones, and finally Robert Maxwell (giving rise to the theory that he took this name from the coffee brand, as he later named his business headquarters Maxwell House). He bravely fought for his lost family who were to disappear in the death camps as well as for this country which would never fully accept him. This earned him the Military Cross for bravery under fire. Because of his language skills he was recruited by British Intelligence, promoted into the officer ranks and was soon interrogating various Nazi leaders. Learning Russian in a few months enabled him to join the Central Commission for Germany where he acted as Power broker in the rebuilding of post war Germany. By the late 1940’s he had gained both power and wealth.
His involvement with British Intelligence is open to conjecture but it does seem probable that post war M16 recruited and bankrolled Maxwell to establish contacts within Soviet occupied Europe and the Soviet Union itself. The idea was to offer Russia the opportunity to publicise its technological and scientific advances whilst obtaining contacts for the British within the Soviet Union.
Consequently, it is shrouded in mystery if Maxwell was in turn recruited by the K.G.B. Certainly he established contacts not only within the Soviet scientific community but more importantly within the hierarchy of the K.G.B. and the Central Committee, these contacts lasted all his life despite their ever-changing personal.
This Moon Globe presumably should have been published alongside the East German version published in 1963. It represents the significant achievements of the Soviet space scientific research that had captured the world’s attention with the launch of Sputnik I in 1957. In 1959 Lunik Satellite sent back to earth the first photos of the unknown dark side of the moon, and it is these photos which give the Eastern Block a clear lead in the ‘Space Race’. The Russians had produced their smaller lunar globe of 26cms diameter. The graphics for the German and Maxwell’s version are identical to the smaller Russian version and are both 13 inches / 33cms in diameter. Maxwell published most of the scientific papers for this period, through his company the Pergamon Press, which he seized control of in highly dubious dealings. It would appear that the Pergamon Press did produce an inferior poster of the dark side of the moon, though complete, this was noting in comparison to what Maxwell’s Globe would have been, had it been originally published. It was for this reason that we decided to publish for the first time some 30 years late this unique icon of the Space Race and its ensuing politics.
Robert Maxwell always had the air of a Stateless person about him, never fully accepted by the British establishment despite or because of his wealth and power. He was suspected of being a British agent, a Russian agent, a double agent or even a triple agent. He liked to think of himself as a world figure on a large stage, but there was always a question mark hovering over his motives. His life and mysterious death in 1991 mirror this moon globe in that certain sectors are well mapped out and clear to see, but on the dark side there is still a large gap in the visible information.
Text Copyright © 2000 Greaves & Thomas. London.