What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“The better to entertain the Company, there will be two or three Songs sung during the Evening’s Amusement.”
Last month the Adverts 250 Project featured three advertisements for houses of entertainment. Daniel Ocain operated one in Savannah. Samuel Fraunces operated another “at the Sign of Queen Charlotte” in Philadelphia. On the outskirts of Philadelphia, in the Northern Liberties, William and Ann Johnson ran their own “AT the Sign of the Globe.” The two enterprises in Philadelphia offered much more extensive amenities and services than Ocain’s establishment in Savannah. Philadelphia was an older, wealthier, and much larger city. Fraunces and the Johnsons appeared to support themselves primarily by operating their houses of entertainment, while Ocain continued to work as a saddler on the side.
Not to be outdone by his counterparts in Philadelphia, John Jones offered a similar array of services and amenities to entertain guests at his establishment near New York City. His “rural Retreat” even had an impressive name to help advertise the amusements that took place there, Renelagh Gardens. Residents weary of the crowded streets in the city were sure to enjoy the gardens, “laid out … in a very genteel, pleasing Manner” and “judged … to be far the most rural Retreat.” In addition to the gardens, guests could enjoy music and dancing, “the very best of Wine, and other Liquors,” and an assortment of entrees and desserts.
With the Independence Day holiday falling at the beginning of this week, many Americans are in the midst of vacations and summer travel. In addition, others are likely taking advantage of longer summer evenings to make the most of their leisure time. Municipalities and various organizations also host festivals, outdoor concerts, fairs, and other events throughout the summer months, drawing crowds looking for entertainment. Today’s advertisement offers a glimpse of some of the amusements available in colonial America and the methods for promoting them to the public.