What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“European and India GOODS … TO BE SOLD By Jonathan Jackson, At his Store in Newbury-Port.”
Jonathan Jackson advertised his wares frequently. Readers of the New-Hampshire Gazette would have been very familiar with his promise to sell imported goods at the same costs they would encounter in the larger port city of Boston. Indeed, readers would have been aware of this because Jackson inserted the same advertisement in the newspaper repeatedly. Some wholesalers and retailers that advertised regularly either revised existing notices or devised entirely new ones. Jackson, on the other hand, repeatedly placed the same advertisement.
Those who have followed the Adverts 250 Project since its origins on Twitter may recognize this advertisement and realize that I have broken one of my rules: this advertisement was previously featured on November 15, 2015. Why have I done this instead of providing new content? Jackson’s (repeated) advertisement raises several issues that merit consideration when considering the history of marketing in early America. I’ll raise two of them here.
First, did Jackson actually place this advertisement after its initial appearance? Or was the printer responsible for each subsequent insertion? Did it generate revenue for the printer? Or, as a relatively short advertisement, was convenient for filling space?
In addition, did readers and potential customers pay any attention to this advertisement over time? The promise that merchandise was “JUST Imported” certainly lost its luster over time. The advertisement continued to prompt potential customers to visit Jackson’s shop. Perhaps that was sufficient justification for repeating it throughout the winter months, especially since new ships were unlikely to arrive during that period.