January 16

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

South-Carolina and American General Gazette (January 16, 1767).

“MANSELL, CORBETT, & Co. HAVE FOR SALE, At their Store in Tradd Street.”

Not much distinguished Mansell, Corbett, and Company’s advertisement from other commercial notices inserted in the same issue of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette. The partners announced that they stocked an interesting combination of women’s shoes, ale (in bottles) from Dorchester, and beer (in barrels) from Philadelphia at their store in Tradd Street. As far as the copy was concerned, Mansell, Corbett, and Company incorporated one aspect that set their advertisement apart from others: they listed a specific price for the shoes, twenty-five shillings per pair.

The shopkeepers may have been fairly conservative in their marketing when it came to making appeals to potential customers, but they did experiment with other methods of attracting notice in the advertising pages of one of their local newspapers. Their advertisement for women’s shoes and Philadelphia beer was not their only contribution to the advertising pages of that issue of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette. They also inserted a separate advertisement that appeared two pages earlier, that one promoting an “ASSORTMENT OF GOODS” that they pledged to “sell very cheap at their new Store in Tradd-street.”

Many eighteenth-century advertisers, especially those who marketed consumer goods and services, ran their advertisements for multiple weeks in order to achieve greater exposure for their businesses. In cities with more than one newspaper, some hedged their bets by placing the same advertisement in multiple publications simultaneously. On the other hand, relatively few colonists who advertised in the 1760s experimented with increasing their exposure by inserting multiple advertisements in a single issue of a newspaper, an iterative method that forced readers to give a business a second consideration even if they skimmed over the first advertisement they encountered.

Given that Mansell, Corbett, and Company described their shop as a “new Store” in the more extensive of their two advertisements, they may have considered this method an effective way of gaining visibility for their endeavor. Whether they were new on the scene in Charleston or had simply moved locations, placing multiple advertisements aided in increasing local awareness of that the partnership sold assorted consumer goods at their shop on Tradd Street.

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