Gleason Hero Map

Gleason’s 1892 Flat Earth Map – The facts.

The famous Gleason’s map of 1892 is a rare projection of the world and held up by many in the “flat earth” community as a true representation of the Earthly realm we inhabit. So let’s take a deeper dive into the background story of Gleason, J.S. Christopher, and the background to the creation of the map.

Let’s begin by looking at two images of the Gleason map – one without indicator arms, and one with.

Figure 1: Gleason Standard Map without Indicators.
Figure 2: Gleason Standard Map with Indicators. Source: Yale University

The indicator arms are important, as they relate to Gleason’s patent applications. More on that later. First, we’ll look at Gleason’s own background story.


Who was Alexander Gleason?

Alexander “Alex” Gleason was a citizen of the United States, residing at Buffalo, in the county of Erie and State of New York. According to patent applications he is listed as an assigner to the Buffalo Electrotype and Engraving Company.

On the back of the 1892 map, is the key phrase “The demonstration has reference to either considerations: the earth a globe or a plane—take your choice.”.

Yet, it’s evident from Gleason’s book “Is the Bible from Heaven Heaven? Is the Earth a Globe?“, he was a devout religious man (Seventh Day Adventist) and had absolute conviction that the heliocentric model of the Earth wasn’t proven, lacked evidence, and conflicted with Biblical scripture. Gleason was clearly a “flat-earther” based on his published work.

Alex Gleason

Gleason was born on November 28, 1827 – March 13, 1909, so was aged 65 years when releasing the map in 1892.


Gleason Critics

Neither of Gleason’s map or theories were received well in the local Buffalo press. The commentary was quite scathing about his assertions.

Is it any wonder that Alexander Gleason, of No. 1201 Niagara street, is making an effort to prove that the earth is flat? Nowadays nothing seems impossible to a Buffalonian. When Mr. Gleason has successfully demonstrated his theory in regard to our planet, he will doubtless take possession of the earth in the name of his native city. There was a time when Chicago waved the palm for greatest exhibition of municipal claims. The tide of empire, however, has begun to set eastward. Buffalo, the world is yours.

The Buffalo Commercial, 21 November1890 – https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/269473966/

Again there has arisen in our midst with bold attack upon the present system of astronomy and geodesy, a work of surpassing magnitude, by one Alexander Gleason of our own city, published by the Buffalo Electrotype and Engraving Co., and for sale by either of the above named. The work referred to bears the title of, “Is the Bible from Heaven?” “Is the earth a Globe?” While it is manifest from a moment’s glance that to the first interrogation there is no doubt in the mind of the writer as to the inspiration of the word; in regard to the second, if the diagrams and statistical measurements are correct; there remains some hard shelled nuts for our scientists to crack. At least profit might be gained to the most fastidious and sanguine by a careful perusal of the book.

The Buffalo Commercial, 24 March1893

Alexander Gleason, the sage of Niagara street, Buffalo, gave long and hard study to this great problem of the earth’s surface, and spent much money in publishing books and collecting information. At one time he advertised in a New York paper for sea captains who had made the trip from the West African coast around Cape Horn, his desire being to prove that the distance was much greater than it would be if the earth were a sphere. The information which he obtained seemed to be satisfactory to himself, though it not convince many scientists and geographers.

The principal arguments advanced by the flat earth theorists are that a ship might seem to sail around a ball when it merely sailed around a circle; that all the effects of day and night could be produced by a fixed sun shining down upon a circular earth revolving like a card on a pin, and that the longest rivers have a descent of only a few feet.

They say that the phenomenon at sea of the ship “rising” or disappearing is to be explained by refraction, and that if the earth were spherical the compass would not point north or south.

These theorists assert that Sir Isaac Newton was crazy, and Galileo and Columbus mistaken; that if the earth were a revolving globe, a projectile thrown vertically upward would not fall on the spot from which it was hurled.

And all of these propositions are backed up by copious quotations from the Bible, such as the four angles, at the four corners of the earth, the four winds of heaven, the angels that ascended and descended, etc. The underside of the earth having no sun is, say these dreamers, the place of darkness and damnation, and that it is reached only through the bottomless pit.

Democrat (Wichita, KS): 3, 20 Feb. 1897

The Story behind the Gleason Map

At the top right hand corner of the map (Figure 1), it’s stated that a patent was granted on November 15, 1892. The patent was granted in the United States.
Ref: https://patents.google.com/patent/US497917A/en

Other patent applications were made in England, Canada, France, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Austria. It’s unknown if any of these applications were granted.

The patent granted was for a mechanical device – a time chart, rather than a map. The two indicator hands (depicted in Figure 2) are used to ascertain the time of day or night, in any part of the world, corresponding to your own meridian time

Gleason’s work includes text stating the map is “AS IT IS“, and SCIENTIFICALLY AND PRACTICALLY CORRECT, and on the projection of J.S. Christopher of Modern College, Blackheath, England.

Modern College, Blackheath, England doesn’t exist as a learning establishment. A cursory search indicates “Modern” is likely to be a mis-spelling of “Morden”. There is a “Morden College” in Blackheath. The establishment is currently a care home for the elderly.

If we are to presume Modern College on Gleason’s map equates to Morden college, the patent date matches a time in history when the college housed “decayed” merchants. Founder John Morden established the college to provide board, lodging and a pension for merchants who had fallen on hard times. Morden was an international trader and member of the Levant (Turkey) Company and the East India Company, returning to London in 1660 having amassed a substantial fortune.


J.S. Christopher and the Gleason Map Projection

J.S. Christopher’s full name is Joseph Streep Christopher, who did once board at Morden College. Presumably, he was a merchant who may have fallen on hard times.

The researchers at Boston Rare Maps appear to have joined some of the dots

In any event, Joseph Steer Christopher was born in 1805 in Dartmouth, Devon; was a merchant active at the East India Chambers when he declared bankruptcy in 1844; was up and running with a railway investment scheme by 1845 and inviting investors in the “Natal Company” in 1850; lived for a time in Natal, South Africa and edited Natal, Cape of Good Hope (London: Effingham Wilson, 1850); is otherwise recorded at various addresses in England and Scotland; and from 1875 was resident at Morden College on Dec. 31, 1894, a home for “decayed merchants”.

Boston Rare Maps

It’s not clear if Christopher worked directly for John Morden, but both were involved with the East India Company, so there is a good chance.


Other Detail in the Gleason Map

Gleason’s map is a north-polar azimuthal equidistant projection with Antarctica as the containing outer rim. Additional information on the June and December solstices are offered in the bottom left and right hand corners.

The map lists the following locations on the outer Antarctic ring:

  • South Victoria Land
  • Adelie Land (French)
  • Clarie Land
  • North Land
  • Sabrina Land
  • Budd Land
  • Knox Land
  • Termination Land
  • Kemp Land
  • Enderby Land
  • Elephant Island
  • King George Island
  • Graham Land
  • Alexander Land
  • Franklin Island
United Nations Flag

United Nation (UN) Logo

The United Nations Logo (since 1946) contains a similar projection to the one offered by the 1892 Gleason map with the North Pole at the centre of the map.

Whereas, Gleason’s Map has Antarctica as an outer enclosing ring, the continent does not appear on the UN map. Rather, laurel leaves (to represent peace) are displayed.


Gleason Book

You can download Gleason’s Book from this website (free of charge) – Get Is the Bible from Heaven Heaven? Is the Earth a Globe? book in PDF format.


Gleason 1892 Map Merchandise

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