A New Map or Chart of the Western or Atlantic Ocean with part of Europe Africa & America: Shewing the Course of the Galleons, Flota & c. to and from the West Indies
By: Emanuel Bowen for Gentleman's Magazine
Date: 1740 (dated) London
Dimensions: 14 x 11.75 inches (35.5 x 30 cm)
It was in 1740, at the height of the War of Jenkins’ Ear (which soon morphed into the War of Austrian Succession), that Emanuel Bowen engraved this fine map of the Atlantic Ocean for an issue of Gentleman’s Magazine. Bowen’s map traces the routes of ships between Old Spain and Cartagena; Old Spain and Havana; and England and the West Indies. As the map was issued during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, the map also covers slave trading ports in West Africa.
The map presents the Azores Islands in the center, the map covers the British Isles, Spain, western France, much of West Africa, as well as Labrador, Newfoundland, and the northeastern tip of South America (labeled as “Part of America”). A fine example of both Bowen’s notably detailed cartography practice and brilliant illustrations, this map is prized for the fascinating story it tells of war and the transatlantic slave trade.
At the top of the map are portraits of naval commanders Robert Blake and Edward Vernon, who are surrounded with military imagery––flags, swords, a cannon, a trumpet––as well as a shell. Both Blake and Vernon were highly respected naval commanders, with Blake being named the “Father of the Royal Navy.” Edward Vernon was a vice admiral during the War of Jenkins’ Ear and was responsible for the capture of the Spanish city of Porto Bello in present-day Panama.
The map also contains sprawling rhumb lines and a red and yellow compass rose. With bright color, a strong impression, and beautiful illustrations, Bowen’s map is a wonderful example of English cartography at a time of great and unusual historical interest.
The War of Jenkins’ Ear
In the first half of the 18th century, modern economics were not particularly developed in the sense that they are today, and as such trade was seen as a finite resource, the prevailing logic being that if any nation increased their trade it would in turn decrease the trade of other nations. The goal throughout this period was generally to minimize or eradicate the trade of other powers within one’s economic sphere. This genre of power struggle led to the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-48) between the English and Spanish empires.
Around 1713, a trade document called the Asiento was drafted between the Spanish and English which allowed the British to operate their slave trade in Spain’s New World Colonies. The Spanish grew to resent the British for their involvement in the slave trade, which they viewed as corrupt and rampant with piracy. In 1729, the Treaty of Seville was established which allowed the Spanish to board and inspect British ships as a way to thwart supposed illegal trading practices like smuggling and piracy.
Around the same time the British colony of Georgia was founded, which the Spanish viewed as a threat due to its proximity to Spanish Florida. With tensions rising between the two empires––and the British itching to prevent the Spanish from reneging on the Asiento agreement––the British found a reason to declare war on the Spanish in the shape of a severed ear.
Robert Jenkins, the captain of a British merchant ship, went before parliament in 1738 with the claim that Spaniards had cut off his ear during an inspection of a British ship. This claim gave Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole enough reason to declare war on the Spanish––aptly named the War on Jenkins’ Ear––which soon became the War of Austrian Succession, and later King Georges’ War. It was within this context that Emanuel Bowen’s map was produced.
Condition: This map is in A condition. A strong impression with strong coloring. Linen backed. Blank on verso.
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