December 2

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

Pennsylvania Journal (December 2, 1772).

“For LONDONDERRY, The Ship FAME, HUGH LISLE, Master.”

The Pennsylvania Journal relayed shipping news from other ports as well as lists of vessels that “Entered in,” “Outwards,” and “Cleared” from the customs house in Philadelphia.  In addition, the newspaper carried advertisements about vessels seeking freight and passengers heading to various ports throughout the British Atlantic world.  Stock images of ships at sea often adorned those advertisements.

Sometimes the pages of the newspaper may have seemed as crowded as the docks in Philadelphia, a bustling port and the largest city in the colonies on the eve of the American Revolution.  Fourteen such advertisements, each with an image of a ship, ran in the December 2, 1772, edition in advance of vessels departing for Antigua, Belfast, Charleston, Drogheda, Londonderry, and Newry.  Ten of them appeared on the final page.  Filling an entire column, they impressed on readers the connections between Philadelphia and other parts of the empire.

Other newspapers published in Philadelphia also ran such advertisements, but the Pennsylvania Journal seemed to be the most popular place for merchants and captains to promote upcoming voyages.  On December 2, the Pennsylvania Gazetteran ten of those advertisements, eight of them clustered together in a single column.  Earlier in the week, the Pennsylvania Packet carried only three such advertisements on November 30.  Later in the week, the Pennsylvania Chronicle carried just one on December 5.  Many, but not all, of the advertisements that ran in other newspapers also ran in the Pennsylvania Journal.  The notice concerning the Fame, headed to Londonderry, for instance, appeared in the Pennsylvania Chronicle and the Pennsylvania Packet as well as the Pennsylvania Journal.  The notice about the Minerva’s upcoming voyage to Newry ran in both the Pennsylvania Gazette and the Pennsylvania Journal.  On the other hand, the advertisement announcing that the Industry would sail to Newry and Drogheda appeared solely in the Pennsylvania Packet.

Whether they had been published for decades or just a few years, each of the newspapers printed in Philadelphia featured extensive advertising.  Those who placed notices expressed confidence in the circulation of each newspaper to reach readers who would benefit from the information they paid to insert.  At the same time, merchants and masters of vessels seemed to have the greatest confidence that advertising in the Pennsylvania Journal would yield the results they desired, at least during one week late in the fall of 1772.  This raises a question worth exploring in more detail: did advertisers … and readers … have different expectations about the kinds of notices they would encounter in the various newspapers published in Philadelphia in the 1770s?

Slavery Advertisements Published December 2, 1772

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonizers encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by enslavers rather than enslaved people themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Pennsylvania Gazette (December 2, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Journal (December 2, 1772).

December 1

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 1, 1772).

“PIKE’s ANNUAL BALL.”

The December 1, 1772, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal carried an advertisement that proclaimed “BALL” in a larger font than anything else in the entire issue.  That headline drew attention to an announcement that “PIKE’s ANNUAL BALL, for the young LADIES and GENTLEMEN, under his Tuition, will be on Tuesday the Eighth of December.”  The event would begin “exactly at SIX o’CLOCK.”  Presumably members of the community other than the dancing master’s students were welcome to attend the ball to observe the skills that Pike taught in what he had promoted as a “NEW SUIT of ROOMS” in another advertisement that he published in September.

Pike concluded that advertisement with a message to the “Parents and Guardians of his Scholars, that his BALL will be on Tuesday the 8th of December next.”  He underscored that they needed to sign up for classes “as soon as possible, that they may be enabled to complete his Figures in a proper Manner” when they were on display at the ball.  The dancing master aimed to excite some anxiety about public scrutiny, knowing that colonizers carefully observed each other to assess whether their appearance and comportment revealed authentic grace and gentility …or whether they merely put on an act and went through the motions.  Effortless dancing, many believed, revealed virtue, while stumbling around the dance floor and awkwardly interacting with partners and other dancers suggested character flaws.

As a result, colonizers who wished to demonstrate that they truly belonged among the ranks of the genteel relied on the services of various instructors, including tutors who taught them how to speak French, tutors who taught them how to play musical instruments, and dancing and fencing masters, like Pike, who taught them how to move gracefully and how to engage in polite exchanges at social gatherings.  In cautioning the parents and guardians of his prospective pupils that “his SCHOLARS” would be on display at his annual ball in December, Pike reminded them that they needed his services just as much as he needed their patronage if they wished to safeguard their social standing.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 1, 1772

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonizers encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by enslavers rather than enslaved people themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 1, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 1, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 1, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 1, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 1, 1772).

November 30

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

Boston-Gazette (November 30, 1772).

“ANDREW DEXTER’S SHOP.”

Andrew Dexter’s advertisement in the November 30, 1772, edition of the Boston-Gazette consisted of only three lines, but its design likely gave it greater impact than other notices of similar length.  A border comprised of ornamental type enclosed the entire advertisement, making the manicule that called attention to the first line an unnecessary addition.  In its entirety, the advertisement stated, “ANDREW DEXTER’S SHOP, near the Mill-Bridge, is the Place for CHEAP GOODS, after all is done and said.”

Dexter had some experience using borders to set his advertisements apart from others in newspapers published in Boston.  A lengthier advertisement that ran in the Boston Evening-Post, the Boston-Gazette, and the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter in May featured a border.  The border was not nearly as elaborate as the one in the advertisement published in November, but so few newspaper advertisements had borders that it still served its purpose.

Boston Evening-Post (November 30, 1772).

The number of advertisers who opted for borders increased in the wake of examples that Jolley Allen, who had a long history with borders, and Dexter published in multiple newspapers in May.  On the same day that Dexter’s brief notice with the prominent border ran in the Boston-Gazette, William Bant inserted advertisements with borders in both the Boston Evening-Post and the Boston-Gazette.  Jonathan Williams, Jr., once again ran his advertisement enclosed within a border in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy.  Herman Brimmer and Andrew Brimmer had a border around just their names in an advertisement in the Supplement to the Boston Evening-Post.  Later in the week, Bant and Williams ran advertisements enclosed within borders in the December 4 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  The Brimmers’ advertisement with a border around their names appeared in the supplement that accompanied that issue.

About half a dozen advertisers in Boston incorporated borders into their newspaper notices, publishing them so widely that they became a familiar to readers of several publications.  The majority of advertisers did not adopt this strategy for distinguishing their notices from others, but enough did so to suggest that advertisers carefully observed the tactics deployed by their competitors, including decisions about graphic design, and planned accordingly for their own advertisements.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 30, 1772

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonizers encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by enslavers rather than enslaved people themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Supplement to the Boston Evening-Post (November 30, 1772).

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Newport Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 30, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Packet (November 30, 1772).

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Supplement to the Pennsylvania Packet (November 30, 1772).

November 29

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

Supplement to the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (November 26, 1772).

“Serges,           Flannels.”

The partnership of Amorys, Taylor, and Rogers had confidence in the advertising copy they published in Boston’s newspapers in 1772, so much confidence that they ran the same advertisement in the November 26 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter that previously appeared in the February 19 edition of the Boston Evening-Post.  After nine months, they continued to use a headline that proclaimed “GOODS EXTREMELY CHEAP” and a nota bene that declared that they “constantly keep by them a large Assortment of almost every Kind of Goods usually imported from Great-Britain.”  They explained that hey received their merchandise “immediately from the Manufacturors,” skipping the English merchants that often acted as middlemen, and passed along the savings to their customers.

Although the copy remained the same, the format changed from newspaper to newspaper.  In general, advertisers usually composed copy for their notices and then entrusted graphic design decisions to compositors.  That seems to have been the case with these advertisements.  The first headline, “GOODS EXTREMELY CHEAP,” appeared in all capitals in both newspapers, but the second headline, “Amorys, Taylor and Rogers,” incorporated italics in the Boston Evening-Post but not in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  Similar variations occurred throughout the two versions of the same advertisement in those newspapers.

In addition, the compositor for Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter reduced the amount of space required for the advertisement.  The version in the Boston Evening-Post featured two columns with one item listed in each column.  That created significant white space to aid readers in navigating the advertisement.  The new iteration, however, appeared more cluttered as a result of the compositor placing two items on a line when space allowed.  The new design had space between items that now shared lines, creating a winding trail of white space in the center of the column on the left.  Since advertisers paid by the amount of space their notices occupied rather than the number of words, Amorys, Taylor, and Rogers may have requested this modification in order to save space and reduce their costs.  More likely, the compositor made the decision to suit the needs of the newspaper, reserving space for news and other advertisements.

November 28

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

Providence Gazette (November 28, 1772).

“He has had the Advantage of several Years Experience in some of the principal Shops in London.”

John Sebring, a “Saddler, Chaise and Harness Maker,” used solely his last name, “SEBRING,” as the headline for his advertisement that ran in the Providence Gazette in November 1772.  Occasionally advertisers deployed that strategy, perhaps intending to suggest to prospective customers that their reputations were already so well established that they did not need to give their full names.  That did not prevent Sebring from providing plenty of information about his business to refresh the memories of prospective customers who could not quite place him by last name alone.

The saddler listed all sorts of saddles and accoutrements that he made “in the newest Fashion” at his shop.  He also provided details about some of the specialized merchandise that he produced, including “Men and Womens Saddles on such a Construction, that if the Horse should throw his Rider, and the Foot should hang in the Stirrup, the Stirrup will leave the Saddle before the Horse takes three Steps.”  Sebring emphasized safety in marketing his saddles, indicating that his concern for his customers extended beyond the point of sale.

He also highlighted the experience he gained in London, using an appeal often made by artisans who migrated across the Atlantic.  In addition to introducing himself as “from London,” Sebring declared that he “has had the Advantage of several Years Experience in some of the principal Shops in London.”  Artisans often believed that such declarations served as testimonials to their skill and experience, pledging that they would deliver the same quality workmanship to prospective customers in their new towns as they did for former customers in the cosmopolitan center of the empire.  Sebring stated that he “hopes to merit the Approbation of all that may please to favour him with their Custom” by fulfilling their expectations for the saddles, harnesses, and other items he made and sold at his shop.

Sebring’s advertisement contained a lengthy list of his wares, a common element in newspaper advertisements of the era, but the saddler also incorporated elements intended to distinguish him for his competitors.  He used a flashy headline, emphasized his experience in “principal Shops” in London, and featured a saddle with detachable stirrups for the safety of his customers.  Any of those strategies could have piqued the interest of prospective customers, inciting them to visit the saddler’s shop to satisfy their curiosity.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 28, 1772

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonizers encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by enslavers rather than enslaved people themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 28, 1772).

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Providence Gazette (November 28, 1772).

November 27

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

New-London Gazette (November 27, 1772).

Just Published, and to be Sold by TIMOTHY GREEN, Freebetter’s New-England ALMANACK.”

The “POETS CORNER,” a regular feature, appeared in the upper left corner of the final page of the New-London Gazetteon November 27, 1772.  Except for the colophon, advertising filled the remainder of the page.  Although some colonial printers interspersed news and advertising throughout their newspapers, Timothy Green, the printer of the New-London Gazette, tended to segregate advertisements from the news, running articles and editorials on the first several pages and then reserving the remainder for paid notices.  Such was the case in the November 27 edition.  Advertising began in the final column of the third page and filled the rest of the issue, except for the poem and colophon.

That description, however, does not take into account an advertisement for “Freebetter’s New-England ALMANACK, For the Year of Our Lord CHRIST 1773” that ran just below the masthead as the first item in the first column on the first page.  The news, starting with “An Act for preventing and punishing he stealing of Horses,” followed that advertisement.  Like many other advertisements for almanacs, it promoted a variety of “useful, entertaining, and instructive” contents “beside the usual astronomical Calculations,” including “a Table of the Weight and Value of Coins, as they pass in England, New-England, and New York,” an essay on “the mental and personal Qualifications of a Husband,” and a guide to “an infallible Method to preserve our Health, to secure and improve our Estates, to quiet our Minds, and to advance our Esteem and Reputation.”

Why did that advertisement merit such a privileged place in the newspaper?  It happened to be “Just Published, … and Sold by TIMOTHY GREEN.”  The printer took advantage of his access to the press to give his own advertisement a prime spot that increased the likelihood that prospective customers would see it.  Given that printers exchanged newspapers in order to reprint content for their own subscribers, Green may have seen John Carter, the printer of the Providence Gazette, recently deploy the same strategy to hawk “The NEW-ENGLAND ALMANACK, Or Lady’s and Gentleman’s DIARY.”  On the other hand, Green did not need to see that example to take the initiative in placing an advertisement for the almanac he printed on the front page of his newspaper.  Colonial printers frequently gave their own notices priority over news, editorials, and paid advertisements.