May 27

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

May 27 - 5:27:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (May 27, 1767).


David Gionovoly’s advertisement may have been short, but it was visually stimulating, especially compared to the other commercial notices that appeared on the same page of the Georgia Gazette. Amid a series of advertisements that consisted of dense blocks of text, the format of Gionovoly’s advertisement likely drew the attention of prospective clients. The visual aspects of the advertisement eclipsed the contents.

May 27 - Entire Page 5:27:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (May 27, 1767).

Most of the evidence suggests that advertisers submitted copy to printers who then determined the format, though negotiations took place and special requests were sometimes honored (perhaps for an additional fee). Gionovoly may have worked closely with James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, to create an advertisement with distinctive visual appeal. Alternately, he may have made a general request but offered no specifics. On the other hand, the format of the tailor’s advertisement may have been entirely due to the printer’s own initiative.

Regardless of who was responsible for each visual element of the advertisement, it effectively deployed varied fonts and sizes. It also included just enough white space to accentuate those variations. The headline of the advertisement – “DAVID GIONOVOLY, Taylor” – was set in the largest font used on that page (or anywhere else in the issue, with the exception of the masthead). Both capitals and italics further emphasized the tailor’s name, giving him an appropriate sense of style that anyone in the garment trades would have wanted to communicate to potential customers. The ornate font for the next line – “Gives this Publick Notice” – also appeared in other advertisements, but not so many that it did not seem novel in Gionovoly’s notice. The remainder of the advertisement had a standard format and incorporated the usual sorts of appeals – “work done after the best manner, and with the greatest dispatch” – but the lack of innovation in the copy may not have mattered as much as making sure that readers noticed the advertisement at all.

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