Vibrant example of Bowles’ and Carver’s New England

[Carington] Bowles and [Samuel] Carver (publishers), Bowles's NEW ONE-SHEET MAP OF NEW ENGLAND. London, 1765, but revised to ca. 1798.
Engraved map, 25"h x 20.25"w plus margins, original wash color

An interesting, decorative and uncommon map of New England, in brilliant original color.

Bowles and Carver’s map is a reduced-scale version of Thomas Jefferys’ seminal A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England, first published in London in 1755. The Bowles and Carver version first appeared in 1765 and was reissued several times until the end of the century, with a number of interesting improvements along the way.

The map depicts New England to 44°30′ North as well as eastern New York including Long Island. Township, county and provincial boundaries are shown, as are roads, forts, and meetinghouses. Rivers and streams are depicted with care, while the many mountain ranges are indicated with archaic “molehill” symbols. The plan of the Boston area at lower right was added in the late 1770s and contains information about the military situation there early in the Revolution.

When the map was first published in 1765 the future state of Vermont was officially part of the province of New York, though still claimed by New Hampshire. In 1777 it became an independent republic, a status it retained until joining the Union in 1791. As a result of this evolution it retains an ambiguous status on this map: On the one hand the engraver never bothered to insert a boundary between it and New York. On the one hand it is named and identified as a state (making this one of the earliest maps to do so) and is colored differently than its neighbors. Of further interest, the colorist greatly extended its territory at the expense of New York, as the southwest boundary extends to the shores of Lake George and the Hudson.

The example offered here represents the sixth and final state of the map, with the title reading “ONE-SHEET MAP” rather than “pocket map” and Carver’s name added to the imprint.

Baynton-Williams, “Printed Maps of New England to 1780,” item #1765:01f. Cobb, “Vermont Maps Prior to 1900,” Vermont History vol. XXXIX no. 3-4 (1971), item #45, (describing a slightly earlier state of the map). Edney, “Thomas Jefferys (ca. 1710-1771) and the Mapping of North America” (on the website of the Osher Map Library, at McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps, #765.1 (incorrectly giving this issue as the 4th state). Stevens and Tree, “Comparative Cartography,” #32f.


Tiny area of restoration in lower left corner outside plate mark, right margin narrow as usual, else excellent