Octavo (165 x 110 mm.), two volumes bound as one, full original calf, blind ruled boards, rebacked ribbed spine with blind ruled compartments, red calf gilt title label affixed. Volume 1, typographic title page, engraved general map of the Roads of England and Wales, pp. vii, (1), e, (3) and 56 double page road strip maps. Volume 2, duplicate general map, followed by 39 double page road strip maps, pp. 191-243, (2). Title with some repair to the edge, possibly lacking title to second volume, otherwise in good condition.
The ONLY KNOWN EXAMPLE. This is one of several roads books of the period with complicated bibliographical histories which with contributions from various researchers was finally understood during the 1980s and 1990s. It is now known that the first publication of this series of road strips was by Thomas Kitchin in 1771 and entitled ‘Ogilby’s Survey Improved or Kitchins New and Instructive Travellers’ Companion’. The plates are smaller than those in his re-issue of John Senex’s plates issued in 1767 as the ‘Post-Chaise Companion’. They are drawn on a smaller scale and lack compass points. Any titles and notes are placed top and bottom. The intention was to produce an even more comfortable pocket sized work.
Kitchin effectively retired to St. Albans about 1777 and the business was continued by William Hawkes. At some point this work was acquired by Carington Bowles. It would seem Bowles was keen to issue the work on acquisition as updates appeared quite rapidly. Two early versions are known, the initial format offered here contained the original 95 plates but was re-titled ‘Bowles’s Post Chaise Companion’. Although undated on the title it is given a date of c.1781. THIS IS THE ONLY KNOWN EXAMPLE. A ‘Second edition’ was issued for which 2 extra plates were engraved and placed at the end of the second volume and numbered to 194. The last plate in each volume bears the date 4 June 1781. Another ‘Second Edition’ was issued dated 1782 and this is the most common of the editions with new plates taking the total to 100. It was for sale most likely for several years. The text to this work features an ‘Index to the Roads from London and five pages of text entitled Circuits of the Judges in the first volume. The second ends with a large index to the ‘Fairs in England and Wales’.
The market for road books was changing, for several decades similar sized reductions of John Ogilby’s ‘Britannia’ had appeared on the market. Then even smaller more pocket friendly ones were designed. In the same year, 1771, that these plates first appeared at the hands of Thomas Kitchin, Daniel Paterson introduced the ‘New and Accurate Description of all the Direct and principal Cross Roads’. Although Kitchin’s work suffered and was not so successful, that of Paterson was a runaway success with no less than 13 editions before 1800.
Bowles died intestate on 30 June 1793 and the business was continued by his son Henry Carington Bowles who continued in partnership with Samuel Carver as the firm of Bowles and Carver. Four road books are listed in Bowles & Carver’s 1795 list amongst them is an edition of this work listed as the third edition. Provenance: with manuscript ownership inscription on front free endpaper of ‘R: Creed’; private English collection. Bennett (1996) pp. 67 & 79-80; refer Shirley Atlases in the British Library T.Bowl 1a; Webb, David (1996) IMCoS Journal 95 p. 9.