What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“To be sold at the Heart and Crown, Hartford: Ames, Hutchins, and Ellsworth’s Almanacks.”
Historians who study newspapers in colonial America usually argue that if printers made any money at all from publishing newspapers that the profits derived from the advertisements rather than subscriptions. Given the number of advertisements that appeared in many colonial newspapers, this is not hard to believe.
That being the case, did Thomas Green make any money when he printed this issue of the Connecticut Courant? Only two advertisements appeared in the broadsheet folded in half to create four pages. One was a legal notice; the other was this advertisement for almanacs, seemingly placed by the printer himself and thus not generating any revenue except for whatever sales might result from its inclusion. Still, it is an odd advertisement: presumably most consumers would have purchased almanacs much earlier, not nearly three weeks into the new year. In addition, the lower edge of the advertisement is not even with the column on the left (unlike the two columns on the other three pages in this issue), suggesting that the advertisement was included as filler, and hastily at that. Did Green have a bit of extra space and decide to fill it with an attempt to get rid of merchandise that was going out of date with each passing week?
Much of this is speculation. This advertisement interests me because it raises so many questions about printers and their practices in the 1760s.