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OGILBY, John; BOWEN, Emanuel.

Britannia Depicta; or, Ogilby Improv'd;

being a Correct Coppy of Mr. Ogilby's Actual Survey of all ye Direct & Principal Cross Roads in England and Wales …

London: Tho. Bowles, 1720 Stock Code: 123422
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Establishing the statute mile

First edition, large paper copy, first issue, of this highly popular reduced version of John Ogilby's 1675 road atlas, with Bowen's address given as "next ye King of Spain", plate 128 misnumbered 121, and plates 74 and 75 transposed. Bowles decided to trump Thomas Gardner and John Senex, who were also planning reduced-format reissues of Ogilby, by augmenting the original work with 54 county maps and "a multitude of historical, topographical and statistical information" (Hodson) written by the antiquarian John Owen, the whole engraved onto 273 strip-maps by the leading map maker Emanuel Bowen. Bowles puffed his edition extravagantly, claiming that "One leaf of this, contains more Observations than any whole book of this Nature yet publish'd", and evidently stirred up "a great demand as there were four editions issued from 1720 to 1724" (Chubb). Whether the result was wholly practical is questionable: the layout is cluttered, with three or four strip maps per page, in addition to the county maps, armorials, and minutely-engraved cursive text; but it is certainly lively and must have exhibited considerable novelty on publication. Ogilby's survey was the first of the roads of England and Wales, was "securely based on contemporary and collaborative research" (ODNB), and "is of particular and historical importance, as it displaced the old British mile of 2,428 yards, and substituted it for the statute mile of 1,760 yards, thus effecting a revolution in customary measurements" (Chubb, p. 444).

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Octavo (218 x 155 mm). Contemporary red morocco, sides with an elaborate double frame in gilt enclosed by double gilt rules, spine richly gilt in compartments, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.


Engraved title page, 4-page table, 273 engraved maps.


From the library of Robert Fulke Greville, 4th Baron Brooke, with his bookplate and inked monogram to head of title page. Some skilful restoration to extremities, red label renewed to style, the occasional mark or blemish, but a handsome large paper copy in red morocco.


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