January 2

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

Jan 2 - 1:2:1766 Massachusetts-Gazette Supplement
Supplement to the Massachusetts-Gazette (January 2, 1766)

“Ducapes, Lutestrings, Padufoys, Capuchin Silks, Pelong Sattins, Persians, Colchester Bays, Camblets, Russia Duck …”

Such an assortment of goods available to purchase in Joshua Blanchard’s shop on Dock Square in Boston!  Throughout the British Atlantic World a consumer revolution was taking place during the eighteenth century.  Potential customers experienced increasing choices as they considered what and whether to buy all kinds of goods.

As this advertisement indicates, early Americans spoke a specialized language of consumption.  Blanchard did not merely indicate that he stocked a variety of textiles and patterns.  He listed them in detail, employing a lexicon lost to most modern readers (so alien that spellcheck indicates the names of many of these fabrics have been misspelled).  Yet savvy consumers would have recognized each of these during the eighteenth century.  Even without glossy images used to market clothing in modern time, this advertisement would have conjured up visions of a variety of textiles for potential customers capable of making distinctions among them.

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