1784 Bowles / Herman Moll Map of Poland
Description: This is a beautiful 1784 map of Poland by Herman Moll, issued by Carrington Bowles. The map covers Poland and Lithuania as well as parts of Germany, the Russian Empire, Hungary, Transylvania (Romania), and Latvia. Several important towns, rivers, lakes and other topographic features are noted throughout, with mountains rendered in profile.
Despite the date of issue, this map illustrates Poland in the waning days of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, just prior to the 1772 First Partition of the Commonwealth. In 1764 Stanislaw August Poniatowski was elevated by election to become King of Poland. This worldly and refined ruler attempted various reforms intended to preserve the failing Polish state, but found himself increasingly subservient to Tsarina Catherina II of Russia. The Bar Confederation of 1768, a rebellion against increasingly Russian influence over Polish politics, led to the First Partition of the Commonwealth, a permanent annexation of Polish territory by its more powerful neighbors. Subsequent partitions in 1793 and 1795, would eventually lead to the disintegration of the Polish state, though it was later reconstituted during the Napoleonic Wars.
This map was created by Herman Moll and issued by Carrington Bowles in London in 1784.
Date: 1784 (undated)
Cartographer: The Bowles family ( fl. c. 1714 - 1832 ) were publishers and map sellers active in London from c. 1714 to c. 1832. The firm, under Thomas Bowles ( fl. 1714 - 1763), John Bowles (1701-1779), Carrington Bowles (1724 - 1793), and as Bowles and Carver (fl. 1794 - 1832), produced a massive corpus of work that included numerous atlases, pocket maps , and wall maps. The Bowles publishing tradition was kept alive over four generations starting with Thomas Bowles who was a print engraver in the late 17th century. The first maps issued by the firm were actually produced by his son, Thomas Bowles the second, who based in self in St. Paul's Churchyard, London. Thomas's brother, John Bowles (called "Old John Bowles" or "Black Horse Bowles" by those who knew his shop), was also an active publisher and was established at no. 13 Cornhill. It is said that he was one of the first publishers of William Hogarth's works. It was here that John's son, Carrington Bowles, was introduced to the trade. Carrington took over the Cornhill bookshop and eventually merged it with his uncles shop in St. Paul's Churchyard. On Carrington's death in 1793, the business was passed to his son Henry Carrington Bowles, who partnered with Samuel Carver, renaming the firm, Bowles and Carver. Under this imprint the firm continued to publish maps and atlases until the early 1830s. Click here for a list of rare maps by the Bowles family.
Cartographer: Herman Moll (1654 - 1732) was an important 18th century map publisher and engraver based in London and Holland. Moll's origins are disputed with some suggesting he was born in the Netherlands and others Germany - the Moll name was common in both countries during this period. Most likely Moll was a German from Bremen, as his will, friends, and contemporaries suggest. What is known for certain is that he moved to London in 1678, possibly fleeing the Scanian War, where he worked as an engraver for Moses Pitt and other London map publishers. Around the turn of the century, Moll set up his own shop where he produced a large corpus of work known for its high quality and decorative flair. As a new émigré to England, Moll made himself more English than the English, and through his cartography proved a fierce advocate for his adopted nation. Most of Moll's early maps were issued as loose sheets that would be bound to order, however, he did publish several important atlases late in his career. Moll is said to have made the bold claim that without a doubt "California is an Island" and that he "had in [his] office mariners who have sailed round it." While California may not be an island (yet), it is true that moll had talent for attracting interesting friends and acquaintances. He frequented London's first stock exchange, Jonathan's Coffeehouse at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill. At the time Jonathan's was known as "a place of very considerable concourse for Merchants, sea faring Men and other traders" (Erleigh, The Viscount, The South Sea Bubble, Manchester: Peter Davies, Ltd., 1933, 21). Eventually this activity attracted the interest of stock brokers, who inspired by sailor's tales, sponsored the ill-fated South Sea Company, the world's first stock bubble. Moll's close circle, mostly from the Coffee House, included scientist Robert Hooke, the writers Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) and Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), the pirates William Dampier, William Hacke and Woodes Rogers, and the archeologist William Stukeley. Herman Moll's work was highly regarded for its decorative beauty and was pirated, most notably by the Irish publisher George Grierson, both in his lifetime and after his 1732 death at St. Clement Danes, London. Click here for a list of rare maps by Herman Moll.
Size: Printed area measures 10.5 x 7.5 inches (26.67 x 19.05 centimeters)
Scale: 1 : 5702400
Condition: Very good. Original platemark visible. Original centerfold. Blank on verso.
Code: Poland-bowles-1784 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)
Tags: Moll , Bowles , Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth , Eastern Europe