August 23

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

Aug 23 - 8:17:1767 New York Gazette
New-York Gazette (August 17, 1767).

“They will be presented to the Publick in a Catalogue.”

Garret Noel continued to stock “A Very extensive Assortment of Books” nearly a month after his advertisement concerning a shipment that just arrived on the Amelia first appeared in the July 20, 1767, edition of the New-York Gazette. That the second line of his notice, proclaiming that he “Has this Day receiv’d” new inventory, was slightly outdated mattered little compared to two other aspects of the advertisement.

Noel, a prolific advertiser, informed potential customers that his “extensive Assortment of Books” covered a wide variety of topics, including “History, Divinity, Law, Physic, [and] Poetry.” In fact, he now carried so many new books that they were “too numerous” to list all the titles in newspaper advertisements. Instead, he resorted to another medium, a book catalog printed separately and often distributed free of charge as a means of inciting demand. Noel indicated that his catalog was “publishing with all the speed possible.” No extant copy exists, but that does not mean that Noel’s catalog never made it to press. According to the American Antiquarian Society’s online catalog, Noel previously published four other catalogs in 1754/55, 1755, 1759, and 1762. The partnership of Noel and Hazard later published a catalog in 1771. Perhaps Noel never printed the catalog promised in this advertisement but instead suggested that it existed as a means of luring potential customers to his shop, but the evidence suggests a fairly good chance that he did indeed publish this marketing tool to supplement his frequent newspaper advertisements. While fairly complete collections of many eighteenth-century newspapers have survived into the twenty-first century, other printed materials have not. Newspaper advertisements suggest that many more book catalogs likely circulated in the eighteenth century than can be found in archives today.

While awaiting publication of the catalog, Noel also informed existing customers who had placed orders that they could send for them. This announcement did matter more at the time the bookseller originally inserted the advertisement in the New-York Gazette. With a new shipment that had just arrived he likely had not yet had time to send notices to every customer awaiting an order. An announcement in the newspaper presented an opportunity for eager customers to obtain their purchases as quickly as possible (and potentially saved the bookseller time and energy in contacting customers individually). That this portion of Noel’s notice continued to run for so many weeks also served to inform potential customers that they could also submit special orders.

Garret Noel offered two forms of customer service intended to cater to consumers and convince them to purchase his merchandise. He distributed a catalog detailing his “Very extensive Assortment of Books,” introducing potential customers to titles they may not have previously considered. He also accepted orders and informed clients as soon as they arrived, exhibiting how eagerly he sought to serve his patrons.

August 22

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Aug 22 - 8:22:1767 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (August 22, 1767).

“A large Assortment of English Goods and Hard-Ware.”

Joseph and William Russell were among Sarah Goddard and Company’s most loyal advertisers in the Providence Gazette. Even when the publication experienced a lull in paid notices during the winter and into the spring of 1767, the Russells continued to place advertisements for the imported goods they sold at their shop at the Sign of the Golden Eagle. On occasion, their full-page advertisement dominated the entire newspaper.

Some of their other advertisements were more modest, but even as they placed notices for purposes other than marketing their goods the Russells made sure to remind readers and potential customers that they “have to sell a large Assortment of English Goods and Hard-Ware” at low prices. Such was the case in this advertisement announcing that they sought tenants to rent “a Convenient Dwelling-House” in the northern part of Providence. This was not the first time they adopted such a strategy in their advertisements. Six months earlier they had evenly divided the space in a previous advertisement, first issuing a call for prospective renters for what might have been the same “Convenient Dwelling-House” and then hawking their “compleat Assortment of English GOODS” and, especially, “Excellent Bohea Tea, which for smell and flavor, exceeds most any ever imported.”

The Russells’ advertisement from August 1767 was not nearly as elaborate, yet the shopkeepers still determined that it should fulfill multiple purposes. They may have figured that as long as circumstances forced them once again to advertise a house for rent in the Providence Gazette that they might as well attempt to gain as much of a return on their investment in advertising as possible. Greater numbers of competitors had turned to the local newspaper to advertise throughout the spring and summer. Having previously established their reputation as retailers in the public prints, Joseph and William Russell reminded readers that they sold similar merchandise also advertised by William Brown, John Mathewson, Benjamin West, and others elsewhere in the issue.

August 21

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Aug 21 - 8:21:1767 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (August 21, 1767).

“Choice London BOHEA TEA, to be sold by Henry Appleton, at £4 10s. Old Tenor by the Dozen.”

Henry Appleton advertised “Choice London BOHEA TEA” in the August 21, 1767, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette. His was one of nearly two dozen paid notices that appeared in that issue, its format distinguishing it from the others. Appleton’s advertisement ran in a single line across the bottom of the third page, extending nearly the width of three columns. At a glance, it could have been mistaken for the colophon printed on the other side of the page.

Why did Appleton’s advertisement have such a unique layout? A few other advertisements were nearly as brief, yet they had been set as squares of text within the usual three-column format of the New-Hampshire Gazette. The brevity of Appleton’s notice alone did not justify its unusual layout.

Who made the decision to treat Appleton’s advertisement differently? Perhaps Appleton, wishing to draw special attention to it, made arrangements with Daniel and Robert Fowle, the printers, to deploy an innovative format. Perhaps the Fowles or someone working in their printing office opted to experiment with the appearance of advertising on the page.

Perhaps neither the advertiser nor the printers put that much consideration into Appleton’s notice. If it had been submitted late or somehow overlooked, running it in a single line across the bottom of the page may have been the result of practicality rather than an intentional effort to challenge the conventions of eighteenth-century advertising.

As far as potential customers were concerned, however, the origins likely would have been less important than the effects. Readers scanning the contents of the issue would have encountered Appleton’s advertisement three times instead of passing over it only once. Its unique format demanded at least one close reading to determine what kind of information it contained, whereas advertisements that conformed to the standard layout did not elicit the same curiosity merely from their appearance.

Even in a short advertisement, Henry Appleton incorporated appeals to price and quality, but the format of his advertisement – whether intentionally designed or not – made it much more likely that consumers would spot those appeals and consider purchasing his merchandise.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 21, 1767

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter: @SlaveAdverts250.

Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

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Aug 21 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 21, 1767).

August 20

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Aug 20 - 8:20:1767 Pennsylvania Gazette
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

“A considerable number of rolling screens for cleansing wheat.”

John Sellers and Richard Truman both advertised their “SCREENS for cleaning all sorts of Grain” in the August 20, 1767, issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette. Truman devoted more than half of the space in his notice to a woodcut depicting a machine that used one of the screens he made. This strategy likely garnered a fair amount of attention since visual images were relatively rare in eighteenth-century newspapers; even the most humble woodcuts distinguished the advertisements they adorned from the vast majority of others.

Sellers purchased the same amount of space, but, like most advertisers, densely filled it with text. He used that space to develop two marketing strategies: an appeal to unparalleled expertise in his field and roll call of existing customers who could testify to his abilities and their experience using the screens he made.

Sellers not only “MADES and sold” screens for cleaning flaxseed and wheat, he claimed to be “the original inventor and institutor of that branch of business in America.” Furthermore, he protected his trade secrets by not sharing his techniques with anyone else. As evidence that former customers recognized the quality and utility of his “wire work of all sorts,” Sellers argued that he had made “all the wire boults used in the cities of Philadelphia and New-York” as well as a “considerable number” of rolling screens akin to those advertised by Truman. Due to his “long experience” and status as “the best master of the work,” he believed that he was “best intitled” to the patronage of those who needed to purchase such equipment.

Potential customers did not need to take Sellers’ word. Instead, he listed eight associates in Philadelphia and another eight in New York, encouraging readers to enquire of them for further endorsements. Realizing that consumers would rightfully be skeptical of what amount to nothing more than braggadocio, Sellers made it possible for them to independently verify his claims by speaking with satisfied customers.

Without a woodcut decorating his advertisement, John Sellers instead worked to convince potential customers of the superiority of his product over others marketed and sold by his competitors. Richard Truman’s advertisement was rudimentary in comparison. It included an eye-catching visual image, but did little beyond announcing that he sold fans and screens for cleaning grains. In contrast, Sellers explained why customers should prefer the products he made and sold. In addition, he directed them to satisfied customers who could speak authoritatively about his screens.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 20, 1767

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter: @SlaveAdverts250.

Aug 20 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 2
Massachusetts Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - New-York Journal Slavery 2
New-York Journal (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - New-York Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Journal (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 4
Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).

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Aug 20 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette (August 20, 1767).