An example of the VERY RARE FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE. This atlas was first published in 1767 as the ‘Atlas Anglicanus’ in response to Ellis’ popular ‘English Atlas’ first published in 1765. The ‘Atlas Anglicanus’ like many projects at the time began life by being published in monthly numbers. Each contained three maps, the part numbers being engraved on them. Only one example of the parts issue has been located and the only evidence we had for its issue came from a contemporary account of Gough and two located adverts. The presence of the same number on three maps caused some confusion for earlier carto-bibliographers. Notably Chubb who surmised that they represented pigeon holes in the printing office! The first part was issued on 1 January 1767 and shortly after production began Emanuel Bowen died on 8 May 1767, his death was reported in the ‘London Magazine’. Only four parts had been issued. The project was continued by his son Thomas although the issues were becoming somewhat irregular towards the end.
Near completion Thomas Kitchin (1718-84) stepped in and appears to buy the rights to the atlas, the last part was issued on 29 July 1768 and included a title page indicating Kitchin as sole publisher. Kitchin was originally apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen in 1732 and would marry his master’s daughter, Sarah, in 1739. Quite soon, the pupil’s output became prolific including several high quality English county atlases. Bowen was successful too and despite the death of Sarah in 1761, the ties between Bowen and Kitchin would remain close. But whilst Bowen’s wealth declined over the years, Kitchin remarried into a wealthy Baptist family. The maps are reductions of those published in the ‘Royal English Atlas’, themselves reductions of the ‘Large English Atlas’, both great works. After acquiring the ‘Atlas Anglicanus’, Kitchin immediately undertook the task of adding his imprint to all the maps. Examples of the atlas usually contain some maps with his imprint, this example however appears to bear none and is therefore a true first issue.
Very few examples survive in this state and include the subscribers list. In all my years I have only located four examples. I have handled two of them, the remaining are in the Bodleian Library and Cambridge University Library. Provenance: private English collection. Chubb (1927) 232; Hodson (1984-97) no. 254; Shirley (2004) BL T.Bow 5a.