Uncommon first state of this most attractive 1747 map of Virginia, Maryland and surrounding region, extending from Delaware Bay south to Cape Henry, with the full extent of the Chesapeake and the facing shore of maritime Virginia. Small symbols mark the principal “English Plantations” and native American “Houses and Plantations”. One of the map’s oddities is the failure to note the Delaware Colony, which obtained an independent legislature in 1701 thought it shared a governor with Pennsylvania until the American Revolution.
The map is one of a long line of maps that can be traced back to Augustine Hermann’s Virginia and Maryland (1670). This particular rendering by Bowen is closely based on Herman Moll’s 1729 Virginia and Maryland, but with slightly less coverage in the West and rather more in the North; the addition of Newcastle, Delaware, Fort Elsingburg on the New Jersey shore of Delaware Bay, and a few other place names; and the addition of a rather half-hearted decorative cartouche at lower right. This first state can be identified by the presence of the labels ‘ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY’, the hinterland of Arundeltown (Annapolis), ‘ESSEX C.’ on the south shore of Delaware Bay, and the plate number ‘N.o 95’ below the lower-left border.
The map was engraved for the first edition of Emanuel Bowen’s A Complete System of Geography (1747). Illustrated with no less than 70 maps, it was the most important and substantial English geographical text of its day.
Bowen (1693?-1767) was Geographer to the English king, appointed by George II, and widely regarded as one of the preeminent London mapmakers of his day. Bowen had a lengthy career, in which he produced a substantial corpus of maps, with numbers of important maps of the Americas, highlights including a fine four-sheet wall-map of the Americas with panelled side-borders for John Bowles (1740); a very influential wall map of North America at the outbreak of the French and Indian War, drawn and engraved with John Gibson in 1755, subsequently much reprinted by Robert Sayer and his partners and successors; three charts of the Bahamas for Robert Bishop (1761); and three charts for the South Carolinian James Cook.
Coolie Verner, The Printed Maps of Virginia: 1590 to 1800 (unpublished), vol. 3 #592. Papenfuse & Coale, Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, fig. 24. Phillips, Virginia Cartography, p. 47. Wooldridge, Mapping Virginia, #88 (pp. 90, 347).