The maps from Emanuel Bowen and Thomas Kitchin’s beautiful ‘Large English Atlas’ were first issued separately. The project began at the hands of the publisher John Hinton in 1748 before he ran into financial difficulties. They are superb, clear and concise engravings. In the history of English county atlases it is hard to think of one with finer quality. Wardington praised the book saying that ‘the size of the plate presented the publishers, the engravers and the printers with as formidable a task as any posed by the finest productions of Louis XIV or XV, the best of the Dutch engravings fifty years earlier, or the Ordnance Survey sheets fifty years later’. Demand for folio maps of the English Counties in the early eighteenth century was mostly met by the old maps of Christopher Saxton, John Speed and various other seventeenth century maps. Individual large scale surveys were beginning to be published providing a ready source for accurate information. Hinton clearly saw a market for a fresh set of folio maps.
In about 1748 Hinton employed the engravers Emanuel Bowen and Thomas Kitchin to engrave the maps. Hinton had already employed Bowen for the maps in the Universal Magazine from 1747. In May 1749 Hinton announced the publication of the map of Sussex and stated that the balance would be published at the rate of one a month. By 1752 or 1753 he sold his interest and the twenty-eight maps produced to date to the printseller John Tinney. By May 1756 he too felt the financial strains of the project and brought in the most successful printsellers of the time, Thomas Bowles, John Bowles and Son and Robert Sayer. Hodson 221 provides a thorough account of the complex history of this atlas, which was finally completed and issued with a title-page in c.1762. Because of the drawn out nature of the publication earlier states of some of the maps do exist. This example is of particular interest due to the seller’s label on the slipcase. It states that Thomas Jefferys ‘Sells great Variety of Maps and Prints English and Foreign by the most Celebrated Masters’. Baum p. 24; Deadman & Brooks ‘Leicestershire’ p. 76; Deadman & Brooks ‘Rutland’ p. 78; Hodson (1984-97) II 221.