Oblong quarto (180 x 230 mm.), full contemporary calf, ornate blind panelled, rebacked preserving old spine, the extensive number of blank endpapers are dated 1796 indicating the date of rebinding. With typographic title page, pp. (6) of tables, one general map of England and Wales and 103 plates of roads strips printed back to back, with manuscript indexes on routes from Lancashire to London, the final leaf of tables and general map trimmed close with minor loss, otherwise in good condition.
Many earlier carto-bibliographers believed this work to be a later issue of John Senex’s ‘Actual Survey of the Principal Roads’ first published in 1719. Recent examination has identified that it is actually a new series of plates. The 104 maps were engraved by Thomas Kitchin (1718-84), one of the most notable English cartographers of the eighteenth century. They are drawn very closely from those by Senex. He was both an engraver and publisher of considerable reputation who was made Hydrographer to King George III. He worked with many of his contemporaries on various projects, in this case John Bowles, Carington Bowles and Robert Sayer.
Although dated 1767 there is some evidence that the work might have been available in 1766. It was not unusual for works published late in the year to bear the date of that following. In Robert Sayer’s ‘New and Enlarged Catalogue for the Year 1766’ he advertised it as ‘fitted up in a portable Manner for the Conveniency of Travellers’. This is supported to some degree by the lack of an address for John Bowles in the imprint. Hodson records that John Bowles had to vacate the Black Horse in Cornhill because of a possible fire ’till his house is rebuilt, or another procured’. It might be seen that the actual address in Cornhill in the imprint is blank. When he returned to the street he used the address ‘no. 13’, it is not known if this was the same building or not.
It was priced at 7s. 6d. and as was common practice at the time the first edition is found with two different imprints. In this case that of the Robert Sayer is found after that of the senior John Bowles and his son Carington. The other title is clearly printed at the same time with identical type setting, but the imprint of Sayer is placed first. The priority indicates through whose shop this example would have been sold. Provenance: With ownership inscription on the title page of ‘? Hodgson. 1793’; recent Ex Libris of John A Schooley, Eastbourne Sussex pasted inside upper cover, he was a Constable in the Metropolitan Police. Bennett (2007) p. 65; Chubb (1927) 141; ESTC T200473; Fordham (1924) p. 27 (erroneously identifying it as a later issue of the Senex); Hodson (1984-1997) p. 187; Shirley (2004) T.Kit 4a; Smith (1991a & b); Worms & Baytnon-Williams (2011).