Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Old books, maps and prints by Emanuel Bowen

Emanuel Bowen (1694-1767)

Emanuel Bowen, map and print seller, was engraver to George II and to Louis XV of France and worked in London from about 1714 onwards producing some of the best and most attractive maps of the century.

In spite of his royal appointments and apparent prosperity he died in poverty and his son [Thomas], who carried on the business, was no more fortunate and died in a Clerkenwell workhouse in 1790.

(Moreland & Bannister).

Emanuel Bowen (1694 - 8 May 1767) was a Welsh map engraver, who achieved the unique distinction of becoming Royal Mapmaker to both to King George II of Great Britain and Louis XV of France. Bowen was highly regarded by his contemporaries for producing some of the largest, most detailed and most accurate maps of his era. He is known to have worked with most British cartographic figures of the period including John Owen and Herman Moll.

Bowen was born at Tal-y-Llychau (now Talley), Carmarthenshire, Wales. His father was Owen Bowen, a prominent member of the local gentry (i e. "a distinguished but not noble gentleman").

In 1709, Emanuel Bowen was apprenticed as a merchant tailor to Charles Price. Bowen worked in London from 1714 and was admitted to the Merchant Taylors Livery Company on 3 October 1716.

One of his earliest engraved works, Britannia Depicta, published in 1720, contained over two hundred road maps together with a miniature county map of each of the counties of England and Wales. It followed on John Ogilby's earlier work with updated style of historical and heraldic detail. It was an unusual feature of the atlas that the maps were engraved on both sides of each page, resulting in a handier-sized book.

By 1726 he was noted as one of the leading London engravers. Among his multiple apprentices, the most notable were Thomas Kitchin, Thomas Jeffreys, and John Lodge. Another apprentice, John Oakman who had an affair with and eventually married, Bowen's daughter. Other Bowen apprentices include Thomas Buss, John Pryer, Samuel Lyne, William Fowler and his own son Thomas Bowen.

He published "A Complete System of Geography, 1744–7; an 'English Atlas, with a new set of maps,' 1745(?); a 'Complete Atlas ... in sixty-eight Maps,' 1752; 'Atlas Minimus; or a new set of Pocket Maps,' 1758; and a series of separate maps of the English counties, of Germany, Asia Minor, and Persia, between 1736 and 1776.

A recurring feature of Bowen's work, evident even on the early road maps, was his habit of filling every corner and space of the map with jottings and footnotes, both historical and topographical.

In spite of his royal patronage and renown, Bowen like many cartographers of his day, would die in poverty. His son, Thomas Bowen (1733 - 1790) would carry on the business, but would ultimately suffer a similar fate, dying in a Clerkenwell workhouse in 1790.


Emanuel Bowen maps for sale