What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Who has to Sell all sorts of Grocery’s at the lowest Rates.”
At first glance, this does not appear to be an advertisement for consumer goods and services. A variety of kinds of notices populated the advertising sections of eighteenth-century newspapers, often seemingly placed haphazardly without concerns for classification or categorization. An advertisement for goods and services might appear above a legal notice, below an advertisement for a runaway wife, to the left of an announcement about a vessel departing port, and to the right of an advertisement to sell or lease property. Indeed, printers’ practical concerns about fitting columns on a page or using type previously set for advertisements that previously appeared likely played a more significant role in the layout of advertisements than any deliberate effort to place similar items near each other. Edward Emerson’s advertisement requires careful reading to discover that he sold “all sorts of Grocery’s at the lowest Rates” at all.
UPDATE: Emerson W. Baker notes, via Twitter, that “Edward Emerson lived in York, Maine. His house is now part of the Museums of Old York.” He also tweeted this image of the Emerson-Wilcox House.