Gardner is described as an engraver in Tooley’s ‘Dictionary of Mapmakers’ but the recent work of Worms and Baynton-Williams casts doubt on that. Indeed, this is his only known cartographic work. In the period 1718-20 there were no less than four reduced versions of John Ogilby’s landmark Britannia first published in 1675. The attempt of Herman Moll was publicised first but was never completed. One of the reasons for this may well have been the impending competition of Gardner, arguably the most desirable of the published works. The ‘Pocket-Guide to the English Traveller’ is in fact the first of the versions to reach the market being advertised 30 December 1718 in the ‘Daily Courant’. The publishers were Jacob Tonson and John Watts. Tonson (1656-1736) was a well-known publisher who earlier in his career had worked with Abel Swall, the last publisher of the folio Ogilby ‘Britannia’ c.1705. Watts (c.1678-1763) was renowned for the quality of his typesetting and at one point counted amongst his compositors one Benjamin Franklin.
The Preface best describes the aim of the work ‘The [Britannia] … has been done with so much Care and Exactness, and esteem’d a Work so useful, that it wanted only to be reduc’d to a portable Volume, to render it of general Advantage to an English Traveller. As the original Plates are in large Sheets, the general Use of them has been hitherto lost, and the Book rather an Entertainment for a Traveller within Doors, than a Guide to him upon the Road …’ Just two days after the announcement of its publication John Senex announced ‘An Actual Survey Of all the Principal Roads of England and Wales’. This undoubtedly hurt sales but the biggest threat was yet to arrive in the name of Emanuel Bowen’s ‘Britannia Depicta’. A battle took place in the press at this time for the new market between the published works of Gardner and Senex and the impending work of Bowen. Tonson retired about 1720 which may also explain the lack of another edition, his business being handed to his nephew. Harley stated that Gardner had signed four plates although I couldn’t identify them, plate number 33 is signed by W. Caslon (1693-1766) who most likely engraved others. He is described as ‘A celebrated typefounder’, ‘the Elzevir of England’ (Worms & Baynton-Williams). Provenance: private English collection. Bennett (1996) pp. 36-7; Carroll (1996) Appendix 3; Chubb (1927) 137; ESTC T154207; Fordham (1924) p. 18; Harley (1970); Hodson (1984-97) I p. 80; Shirley (2004) T.Gard 1a; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).