December 31

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

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Georgia Gazette (December 31, 1766).

“A LARGE and NEAT ASSORTMENT of superfine broad cloths.”

Inglis and Hall frequently advertised in the Georgia Gazette. Among Savannah’s shopkeepers, this partnership often placed the most extensive commercial notices in the local newspaper, making their marketing familiar to readers. Although they sometimes experimented with the format of their advertisements, most of the time Inglis and Hall took a fairly conservative approach to the strategies they deployed.

Today’s advertisements, for instance, included several of the most common appeals to consumers made throughout the eighteenth century. Inglis and Hall promoted “A LARGE and NEAT ASSORTMENT” of goods recently imported from England. Listing dozens of items potential customers could expect to find when visiting their shop. In addition, Inglis and Hall noted that these new arrivals supplement “their former assortment,” prompting readers to recollect previous list advertisements that enumerated their merchandise. In so doing, Inglis and Hall made an appeal to choice. Potential customers did not have to accept whatever goods the shopkeepers happened to have in stock. Instead, they could make their own selections to suit their tastes and budgets.

The retailers acknowledged both of those aspects of the shopping experience as well. They concluded their advertisement by promising to sell all of their merchandise “on the most reasonable terms.” Appeals to price were common in the eighteenth century, though they often received as little elaboration as in today’s advertisement. Such appeals became a standard part of boilerplate advertisements, yet shopkeepers dared not omit pledges to low and competitive prices. Potential customers came to expect such reassurances.

Appeals to fashion or taste could also be fleeting or expansive, depending on the advertisement. Today’s advertisement took the former approach when it listed some of the less utilitarian goods for sale: “fashionable Roman tea-urns, tea kettles, coffee pots, and waiters, pewter plates, water dishes, and measures.” Ultimately, customers had to decide for themselves whether Inglis and Hall actually carried “fashionable” housewares that testified to their taste and that they desired to show off to visitors, yet the advertisement helped to shape their expectations.

Today’s advertisement was not especially innovative in 1766, but that did not make it dull or lacking in marketing strategy. Inglis and Hall incorporated an array of standard advertising strategies to attract customers to their shop. They announced that they stocked new goods, noted the origins of their wares, and made appeals to choice, price, and fashion. Ingis and Hall depended on marketing techniques that advertisers throughout the colonies generally agreed were effective.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published December 25-31, 1766

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of December 25-31, 1766.

Note:  These tables are as comprehensive as currently digitized sources permit, but they may not be an exhaustive account.  They includes all newspapers that have been digitized and made available via Accessible Archives, Colonial Williamsburg’s Digital Library, and Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers.  There are several reasons some newspapers may not have been consulted:

  • Issues that are no longer extant;
  • Issues that are extant but have not yet been digitized; and
  • Newspapers published in a language other than English (including the Wochentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote).

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Slavery Advertisements Published December 25-31, 1766:  By Date

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Slavery Advertisements Published December 25-31, 1766:  By Region

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Slavery Advertisements Published December 31, 1766

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter:  @SlaveAdverts250.

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Georgia Gazette (December 31, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (December 31, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (December 31, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (December 31, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (December 31, 1766).

December 30

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

“Those who … left Breeches to clean, are requested to call for them.”

Most advertisements for consumer goods and services attempted to convince potential customers to make purchases, to participate in the consumer revolution taking place around them. On occasion, however, shopkeepers and artisans placed advertisements requesting that customers actually take possession of the goods that belonged to them. Two such advertisements appeared in the December 30, 1766, issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.

In the first, Alexander Caddell, a “Breeches-maker and Glover,” announced that he planned to return to London. He called on business associates and former customers to settle their accounts, but he also informed anyone who “left Skins to be manufactured for Breeches” to retrieve them. Similarly, those who “left Breeches to clean” had two months to pick them up. Otherwise, Caddell planned to sell them.

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

In another advertisement, Edward Weyman noted that he had “in his Possession sundry Looking-Glasses belonging to different Persons” who had entrusted him with silvering them. He called on the owners to “pay the Charges” and “take them away.” Like Caddell, he threatened to sell them, though he allowed six months, rather than two, for the owners to recover their property from his shop.

In both cases, the advertisers had provided services but presumably had not yet been paid. Selling items that had been abandoned by their owners, after giving sufficient notice that they planned to do so, became a method for receiving payment for their services through a different means.

This situation also illuminates one of the convoluted routes for delivering goods to consumers. Many eighteenth-century advertisements featured new goods that moved along a simple path from producer to retailer to consumer. The breeches that Caddell threatened to sell and the looking glasses that Weyman threatened to sell, however, did not traverse such a simple trajectory. Instead, these used goods had multiple owners, multiple sellers, and rather complicated provenances. The consumer revolution occurred not only because buyers and sellers valued and exchanged new goods but also because they developed markets for used wares, sometimes as an expediency when the original owners neglected to reclaim possessions left in the care of shopkeepers and artisans.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 30, 1766

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter:  @SlaveAdverts250.

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).  [Partial advertisement due to digitization error within database.]

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 30, 1766).

 

December 29

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

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Newport Mercury (December 29, 1766).

“Dentifrice … will preserve the Teeth.”

John Baker, a surgeon dentist, had recently arrived in Newport. Since potential local clients did not know him, he offered a variety of assurances and references in his advertisement. To demonstrate his qualifications, he noted that he had “given sufficient Proof of his superior Judgment, in this Art, to the principal Nobility, Gentry, and others, of Great-Britain, France, and Ireland, and other principal Places in Europe; also to some Hundreds in the Town of Boston.” In his bid to attract clients among “the Gentry” of Newport, he underscored that the better sort in cities throughout Europe had already entrusted him and been pleased with the results. Still, any charlatan might make claims about his vaunted clientele on the other side of the Atlantic. Boston, on the other hand, was nearby, making it much more difficult to exaggerate the reputation he had earned there.

Baker’s concern for his reputation extended to a product he sold, a patent medicine “called Dentifrice,” in addition to the services he offered. The itinerant surgeon dentist made several claims about what his “infallible” Dentifrice would accomplish. Because it was “quite free from any corrosive Preparation,” the Dentifrice “will restore the Gums to their pristine State; will preserve the Teeth, and render them perfectly white; will fasten those that are loose, and prevent them from further Decay.” To protect his reputation and to make sure that customers purchased the correct product, Baker and his agent in Boston provided “proper Directions” along with each pot of the Dentifrice. Each pot was “seal’d up with his Coat of Arms” to prevent tampering or fraud. Baker’s coat of arms was also printed “in the Margins of the Directions” so customers could compare it to the seal and verify the authenticity of the product for themselves.

John Baker offered several services – cleaning and filling teeth and making and repairing artificial teeth – but the surgeon dentist realized that merely advertising those services might not be sufficient to attract clients when he arrived in Newport. In the absence of having established a reputation locally, he promoted the reputation he had earned in other cities and provided other means for certifying the products that he sold.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 29, 1766

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter:  @SlaveAdverts250.

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Boston Evening-Post (December 29, 1766).

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Boston Post-Boy (December 29, 1766).

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Boston Post-Boy (December 29, 1766).

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New-York Mercury (December 29, 1766).

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New-York Mercury (December 29, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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Supplement to the South Carolina Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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Supplement to the South Carolina Gazette (December 29, 1766).
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Supplement to the South Carolina Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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Supplement to the South Carolina Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).

 

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 29, 1766).