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GARDNER, Thomas

A Pocket-Guide to the English Traveller: Being a Compleat Survey and measurement of all the Principal Roads and most Considerable Cross-Roads in England and Wales in One Hundred Copper-Plates

Jacob Tonson & John Watts, London, 1719
Quarto (190 x 170 mm.), full early calf, ornate blind panelled boards, ribbed spine with gilt ruled compartments, green calf gilt title label affixed, upper board with joint repair. With typographic title page printed in red & black, Dedication, Preface and index pp. (6) and 100 engraved road strip plates. Page 8 with light paper fault in the upper margin, otherwise in good condition.
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).

This example has an interesting provenance being owned by the Byng family, notably that of George Byng, Viscount Torrington (1663-1733) who married a Margaret Master in 1690. The owner’s inscriptions include members of the Byng and Master’s families. Byng was an Admiral of the Royal Navy, later First Lord of the Admiralty and statesman. Provenance: the first front free endpaper bears several manuscript inscriptions; ‘R Byng given by R. Binds: 3.0.’; given L M by P Byng June 1730′; Martha Master aprill 20 1746′; Given by Martha Master to Edmd: Bramston June 24 1749′; 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) p. 80; Shirley (2004) T.Gard 1a; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).
Stock number: 9160

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