What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today?
“ALL Persons … Indebted to the Printers hereof, for News-Papers, Advertisement, Books, &c. … Are ONCE MORE desired … to call at the Printing-Office.”
Historians of print culture have long contended that selling subscriptions did not make publishing newspapers profitable for colonial printers. Instead, the real money was in charging for the advertisements! I do not doubt the veracity of this claim, especially given how carefully so many other scholars have scrutinized the account books, ledgers, and other records of colonial printers.
However, I suspect that we sometimes overestimate the amount of revenue generated by newspaper advertising if we assume, when printers’ records are no longer extant to confirm that this was indeed the case, that each time an advertisement appeared in a new issue that the printer received payment. In this instance, the printers of New-Hampshire Gazette placed their own advertisement to call on delinquent advertisers to pay for services rendered. On many other occasions, some advertisements repeat for weeks or months, suggesting that printers sometimes used them for filler even without remuneration.