605 x 525 mm., printed on silk, with some loss at four folds, light waterstain, otherwise considering its nature in good condition.
PRINTED ON SILK and SURVIVING IN JUST ONE KNOWN EXAMPLE. This is Emanuel Bowen’s (c.1693-d.1767) first printed map of Britain. His earliest known work dates from 1714 and he would become one of the leading mapmakers and engravers of the eighteenth century. Little is known about Richard Caldwell (fl.1727-29). The ESTC records works he sold 1727 to 1728, a very narrow window. He is described in the imprint here as being a print and mapseller ‘against Warwick-Lane in Newgate Street, London’. Interestingly the address is crossed out. Tooley’s dictionary cites him in connection with ‘The Traveller’s Guide Thro’ London’, 1739. An extensive search of Copac, the British Library catalogue, ODNB etc., revealed very little.
The map is important for its distinct political ties. Shirley records that in 1733, the first year of the reign of George II, an Excise Bill was being proposed which would place a duty on tobacco. It created a political storm that involved citing the Magna Carta and the various English rights and liberties afforded Englishmen. On 8 April 1734 Bowen advertised in the ‘Daily Journal’ this map which in its first state included side panels and the coats of arms of all those who voted against the Bill. Details of the votes for and against are listed in full. Perhaps the strongest impression is made by the display of 25 coats of arms at the lower border of the barons appointed to handle disputes between King John and his peers at the time of the signing of the Magna Carta. Shirley cites only the example in the British Library and one acquired by the Bodleian Library in 1983. He does not cite this second state.
This is an extremely rare and early survivor of a curious medium popularized by the use of snuff. Helen Christian succinctly described the growth of the fashion for taking snuff from the late 1590s in England. After taking snuff it was required to clear your upper lip of any residue, hence the use of the handkerchief became popular. To disguise the discolouration these often were patterned or coloured. It was not however until the 1730s that the thought of printing maps on them appears to have taken hold. The superb collection of Christopher Lennox-Boyd contained a small number all from around this period. Christian interestingly does not record any from such an early date. Provenance: Roderick Barron 1992; private collection of Rodney Shirley. Christian (1986); Shirley (1988) Bowen 1 (an unrecorded state 2); Tooley Dictionary.