What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Have just imported, In the Georgia Packet, Capt. Anderson, from London, and the Friendship, Perkins, from Bristol.”
Inglis and Hall regularly advertised in the Georgia Gazette. In May 1766 they placed an advertisement announcing that they “have just imported, In the GEORGIA PACKET, Capt. ANDERSON, from LONDON, A NEAT ASSORTMENT” of dry goods and housewares. In addition, they promised “a FURTHER ASSORTMENT daily expected from LONDON and BRISTOL.”
When additional cargoes arrived in port, Inglis and Hall updated their advertisement to add the name of another vessel that carried the textiles and hardware they stocked: “the Friendship, Perkins, from Bristol.” The new advertisement included many of the items listed in the previous one, but also integrated new merchandise to entice potential customers with the variety of choices available.
In both instances Inglis and Hall presented a list style advertisement, an extensive catalog of goods they stocked. The format, however, shifted from one advertisement to the next. The first one tallied everything together in a single paragraph, while the second one indicated only one item or group of related items per line. Both drew attention to the “NEAT ASSORTMENT” and “GREAT VARIETY” of merchandise, but many potential customers likely found the second one easier to read and identify specific items of interest.
Was that the purpose for the new format? Was it an innovation intended to make the advertisement more accessible to consumers? If so, who was responsible for it, the advertiser or the printer? It is also possible that the printer needed to fill space and choose a new format to extend the advertisement to the desired length. In the absence of additional records some questions about the reasons eighteenth-century advertisements took their form cannot be answered definitively.