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 with, apart from the first, the part numbers being engraved on them. Until recently no example of the parts issue had been located and the only evidence we had for its issue came from a contemporary account of Gough and two located adverts. Shortly after production began, Emanuel Bowen (c.1693-1767) died; his death on 8 May 1767 was reported in the ‘London Magazine’. The project was continued by his son Thomas (c.1733-90) although the issues were becoming somewhat irregular towards the end.
Near completion Thomas Kitchin (1718-84) stepped in and buys the rights to the atlas, the last part is issued with 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 in to 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 atlases. Carington Bowles acquired the plates sometime before 1785 and immediately set about revising them. The titles are all changed, the imprints brought up to date and all now are numbered upper right to 44. The general map of the roads is omitted from this edition as is the leaf with contents which is now situated on the title page. The compass roses are now more uniform in style throughout and distances have been erased being replaced by those from London to the major cities.
The atlas faced stiff competition from the continued presence of the Ellis atlas and the introduction of the hugely popular ‘New and Correct English Atlas’ by John Cary in 1787. Bowles priced his atlas at £1 16s, whilst the Ellis was 10s 6d and even the new Cary atlas was £1 10s. This atlas is therefore considerably rarer than that of the Cary. Provenance: private English collection acquired in 2015. Chubb (1927) 232; ESTC T301089; Hodson (1984-97) 256; Shirley (2004) T.Bow 5d; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).