Bowen was born in New York in 1790. Arriving in Boston in 1812, he worked as a printer for the Columbian Museum, at the time under the proprietorship of his uncle, Daniel Bowen. In 1814 Abel married Eliza Healey of Hudson, New York. Their children included Abel Bowen (d.1818).
With W.S. Pendleton he formed the firm of Pendleton & Bowen, which ended in 1826. He joined the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association in 1828. In the 1830s Bowen and others formed the Boston Bewick Company, which published the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge. He lived and worked in Congress Square, ca.1823-1826; in 1832 he kept his shop on Water Street, and lived on Union Street; in 1849 he worked on School Street, and lived in Chelsea.
Bowen taught Joseph Andrews, Hammatt Billings, George Loring Brown, B.F. Childs, William Croome, Nathaniel Dearborn, G. Thomas Devereaux, Alonzo Hartwell, Samuel Smith Kilburn, and Richard P. Mallory. Contemporaries included William Hoogland. His siblings included publisher Henry Bowen.
Works by Bowen
- The Naval Monument. 1816.
- Rufus Porter (c. 1822). Revolving Almanack. Billerica, Mass. Engraved by Abel Bowen.
- Bowen's Boston News-letter, and City Record. 1826.
- Early Impressions A novella published 1827, Bowles and Dearborn: Boston, and reprinted by Allen and Ticknor, Boston, 1833.
- Bowen's Picture of Boston, Boston: Abel Bowen, 1829, OCLC 76917747
- Young Ladies' Book. 1830.
Engraving by Bowen of the Exchange Coffee House from Snow's History of Boston, 1828
- Walter Hamilton. Dated book-plates (Ex libris) with a treatise on their origin and development. 1895.
- Loyd Haberly (1959). "The Long Life of Daniel Bowen". New England Quarterly 32: 320–332. doi:10.2307/362826.
- Boston Gazette, July 21, 1814
- Columbian Centinel, Sep 30, 1818
- Boston News-Letter, Feb 4, 1826
- Annals of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association. 1853.
- Boston Directory. 1823.
- Boston Directory. 1832.
- Boston Directory. 1849.
- Frank Weitenkampf (1912). American Graphic Art. H. Holt and Company.
- Potter's American Monthly, 1873
- "Miniature portraits of the Marquis Lafayette", Boston Commercial Gazette, Aug 23, 1824
- William H. Whitmore (1887), "Abel Bowen", Bostonian Society Publications 1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Abel Bowen.|
- WorldCat. Bowen, Abel 1790-1850
- Young Ladies' Book, excerpts. 1830.
- American paintings & historical prints from the Middendorf collection, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Bowen (no. 74)