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The Mapping of North America

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A single sheet from one of the great Welsh rarities, Emanual Bowen’s wall map of South Wales first published in 1729. Of the first edition only two examples are known, at the British Library (Maps *6095.(15) and the National Library of Wales (Roller Map A234 010/7/4). This is an example of the only other edition published, by Carington Bowles and Robert Sayer given the date of 1766. It covers an area of south Wales from Brecon and Hay (on Wye) in the south to ‘Machunlleth’ and the source of the river Severn in the north.

“The map of South Wales was the most detailed map of the region to that date and was vastly superior in detail and accuracy to all previous county maps of South Wales which all ultimately derived from Saxton’s survey.” (NLW). It was drawn at the scale of 5 miles to 3 inches. Considering that there were over 300 subscribers, its poor survival is reflective of its separately published nature.

Emanuel Bowen (1693?-1767) was one of the more prolific engravers and publishers of the eighteenth century. He was born in Wales but apprenticed to Charles Price in London in September 1709 and made free in 1716. No doubt some acquaintance was likely their as both were from Carmarthenshire. His earliest known work can be dated to 1715 but his first major contribution was to the ‘Britannia Depicta’ of 1720, a popular reduction of John Ogilby’s road strips. He worked in partnership with many people of the day but especially the various members of the Bowles family. He was a major contributor to the ‘Large English Atlas’ and its offshoot, the ‘Royal English Atlas’. He died during the production of the parts to the ‘Atlas Anglicanus’. An apprentice Thomas Kitchin became his son-in-law. Another of note was Thomas Jefferys.

This map was advertised in the ‘Daily Post’ for 21 February 1729 as being ‘entirely finished’. It was issued by subscription, the common practice of the day. Over 300 hundred subscribers were named, and their premises placed on the map identified by a key below. It was made available for collection from the premises of Thomas Bowles, Philip Overton, Daniel’s Coffee-house, and William’s Coffee-house.

The detail is remarkable for the period. ‘Many names are recorded in the Towy Valley, particularly the area around Llandeilo. This may suggest that Bowen was particularly familiar with that locality.’ (NLW). A further ornated cartouche supports the title upper left, surrounded by allegorical figures and putti.

The map was the source for many ensuing publications, not least those engraved by Bowen and Kitchin for the ‘Large English Atlas’ published in the mid-1750s. This second edition was published jointly by Carington Bowles (1724-93) and Robert Sayer (1725?-94). Rodger assigned the date 1766 to its issue but no evidence has been discovered to support that. It must have been issued after 1762 when the future George IV was born and created the Prince of Wales. The dedication has been altered to honour his birth. In about 1762 Carington Bowles took over the shop of his uncle Thomas Bowles. It was offered for sale at 10s. 6d. As might be expected the original list of subscribers is removed. Baynton-Williams, Ashley private correspondence; Kentish (1997) 68; Rodger (1972) Tooley’s Dictionary (1999-2004); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).

BOWEN, Emanuel

(South Wales including Brecon, Hay, north to the source of the River Severn)

Carington Bowles & Robert Sayer, London, c.1766
595 x 550 mm., early outline colour, some marginal fraying, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 9580


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