BONNER, John (1643-1726) and PRICE, William (circa 1685-1771). A New Plan of ye Great Town of Boston in New England in America. Boston: William Price, 1769.
Single sheet, float-mounted and framed (19 2/8 x 24 5/8 inches). A fine engraved detailed map of Boston, with a dedication of Jonathan Belcher in an elaborate allegorical cartouche upper left, a key lower left, and the harbour decorated with beautiful ships and yachts.
Ninth state. Prepared by Captain John Bonner, this printed plan of Boston first appeared in 1722 under the title "The Town of Boston in New England". The map is the first surviving printed map of Boston and the first town plan printed in what is now the United States. Bonner's map gives a fine representation of Boston's development nearly 100 years after its establishment in 1630. Advertised in The Boston New-Letter of May 14, 1722, the plan was described as "A Curious Ingraven Map of the Town of Boston, with all of the Streets, Lanes Alleys, Wharrfs & Houses, the Like never done beforeó" Francis Dewing (fl.1716 - 1722) engraved and printed the map. Bonner drew and published the map and also sold it from his home on Common Street. Others who retailed include Batholomew Green, Sameul Gerrish, and Daniel Hunting, three of the most prolific and successful Boston publishers and booksellers. Interestingly, the name of William Price (circa 1685-1771) does not initially appear among the sellers of the map, although his role in its perpetration figures significantly.
The map depicts the configuration of Boston as it was for almost the first 200 years of its existence - a small peninsula indented by deep coves that were separated by promontories surmounted by high hills. The peninsula was linked to the mainland by only a narrow neck on which there was one road (present-day Washington Street). The North End (the promontory at the right) and the area around the Town Cove (facing the harbor) were thickly settled. Wharves lined their shores, a graphic illustration of Boston's position as the leading port in the American colonies. Long Wharf extended almost a third of a mile to the deep water of the harbor. As a navigator and shipwright Bonner's maritime orientation is certainly the reason he shows waterfront features, such as ship yards and wharves in great detail but also addresses inland topographical features. Included, for example, roads, watchtowers, the hills, The Mill Pond (now the location of the Bulfinch Triangle) that had been formed by a dam located approximately along on the line of present-day Causeway Street and, on the outskirts of town, the Common. William Price (circa 1685-1771), a cabinetmaker and merchant, has been described as America's first art dealer. His shop, the King's Head and Looking Glass, sold musical instruments, toys, cutlery, and other merchandise. As early as 1721, Price advertised maps for sale, and for the next fifty years he remained one of the chief map importers and retailers in Boston.
In 1725, Price became a cartographic publisher, reprinting Captain Bonner's map. Although Dewing's name remained on the 1725 printing, it is of note that fact that his association with that map had ended. Records of the town council from July 9, 1722 indicate that Dewing's rooms had been searched and his tools confiscated under a warrant for his arrest under suspicion of counterfeiting; it is likely that following this he relocated to London where he continued to work until 1745. Less than a year following Bonner's death, the copper plate became the property of Price who over the course of the next thirty years continued to revise and reprint the plan. His is next reissue of the map was in 1732 and although he added a great deal of written material to Bonner's rather simple map he also removed Bonner's name and changed the title to A New Plan of ye Great Town of Boston in New England in America... For the fifth state, in issued in 1733, the engraver Thomas Johnston (1708 -1767) was engaged to make considerable adjustments to the plate, that including a dedication to then-governor Jonathan Belcher. Contained within an ornate cartouche it featured Belcher's coat of arms, as well as the gods Neptune with trident and Mercury with caduceus and winged helmet. Additional decorative elements include nine ships, a longboat.
Additional decorative elements include nine ships, a longboat and cartographic and elements include compass rose and a scale of measurement. In revising the plate Price took the opportunity to insert a detailed advertisement of goods available in his shop in Cornhill, the location of which he indicated with a disembodied pointing hand.
The Bonner/Price plan made its final appearance in this, the 1769 issue (the ninth state), which recorded the changes to the town that had occurred since 1732 such as dates of major fires and epidemics of smallpox. . "The nine reissues of the the map over a period of nearly half a century have secured for it a place in the town's early cartographic history ..." Alex Kreiger & David Cobb, Mapping Boston, p. 45