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Emanuel Bowen: An Improved Map of Wiltshire Divided into its Hundreds

Map: WILTS389
Cartographer: Emanuel Bowen
Title: An Improved Map of Wiltshire Divided into its Hundreds
Date: c. 1760
Published: London
Width: 29 inches / 74 cm
Height: 21 inches / 54 cm
Map ref: WILTS389
Magnificent large county map with panels of text and an ornate cartouche.

Emanuel Bowen’s “Large English Atlas” is the first large scale county atlas since the mid 17th century. The maps were sourced either from surveys commissioned by Bowen or from local up to date maps purchased by Bowen and adapted to his style. Due to these first hand sources, it was the most geographically current atlas until 1787, when John Cary published his own county atlas.

As with most of Bowen’s projects, the financing for this work was dependent on future sales, subscriptions and credit. Loose examples of the maps became commercially available as soon as they were finished, beginning with the map of Sussex in 1749. Several important publishers are listed on the lower margin, probably the main suppliers of the loose maps. The early examples involve John Tinney, the Bowles Family and Robert Sayer. As the project evolved to its later stages, some publishers such as John Tinney were removed while others, such as Robert Wilkinson were added. The first issues of the atlas are recorded c.1760, suggesting that it took approximately eleven years for all the counties to be prepared although there are small variations in the contents of the atlases. The last examples are recorded as late as c1794 although the name has been changed to The English Atlas. There were also further versions of the work entitled “The Royal English Atlas” and the “Atlas Anglicanus “ which contained essentially the same maps, in the same style but in different sizes.

Stylistically, the maps are very different from their predecessors and reflected the dawning of the Age of Reason. The engraving is sophisticated and of high quality. The maps are of a uniform style, with several panels of text on each one, describing geographical features of the county, places of note and the history of important aristocratic families. Both Bowen himself and his apprentice and later partner, Thomas Kitchin are listed as the main authors of each county either together or individually.

For the modern collector, these represent one of the high points in the history of English county maps.

This example of the map bears its original issue date of 1755 and lists John Tinney as the main publisher. Original colour. [WILTS389]