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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Offering of the Day: A New Plan of ye Great Town of Boston in New England in America. John Bonner (1643-1726) and William Price (ca. 1685-1771).

Dimensions: 19 3/16" x 24 5/8"
William Price, a cabinetmaker and merchant, has been described as America’s first art dealer. His shop, the King’s Head and Looking Glass, carried 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, he became a cartograpic publisher, reprinting the first printed map of Boston, titled The Town of Boston in New England by Captain John Bonner.

Less than a year later John Bonner died and the plate of The Town of Boston in New England became the property of William Price. In 1732 Price reissued Bonner’s map with the title changed to A New Plan of ye Great Town of Boston in New England and Bonner’s name removed. Price added a great deal of written material to Bonner’s rather simple map. Price also abandoned Bonner’s convention of indicating settlement with houses and instead adopted the method used by William Burgis in his 1728 "Plan of Boston in New England" of cross-hatching along street frontages.

Thomas Johnston engraved the considerable changes to the plate that included a dedication to then-governor Jonathan Belcher contained within an ornate cartouche. In revising the plate Price took the opportunity to insert a lengthy advertisement for his shop in Cornhill, with a disembodied hand pointing out its location.

Further updates and reissues occurred in 1733, 1739, 1743, 1760 and in 1769 the Bonner/Price plan made its final appearance. The map graphically and textually recorded some of the changes to the town that had occurred since the 1732 publication. Ever the salesman, Price also updated the list of goods available at his shop.

Offered at $350,000.

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