What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“To be sold by the Printer of this paper …”
James Johnston’s advertisement for a “FOUR SHEET MAP of SOUTH-CAROLINA and PART of GEORGIA” would have looked very familiar to readers of the Georgia Gazette. It had been inserted frequently in that newspaper for quite some time, often on the final page alongside most other advertisements but other times on the second or third pages with news items. Although Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, certainly wished to sell copies of this map to interested customers, he also used this advertisement as filler to complete the page when he did not have sufficient news items and other commercial notices to do so. Subscribers and regular readers would have recognized it at a glance. The same was true of the notice immediately below it, an announcement that colonists could purchase all sorts of printed blanks at Johnston’s printing office. Again, the advertisement served dual purposes: attracting customers and filling the page. The latter was particularly efficient since type had already been set long ago for both advertisements. The printer resorted to the eighteenth-century version of cut-and-paste when laying out the pages of the Georgia Gazette each week.
For more information about the map (and to examine the map itself), see the previous entry that featured an earlier insertion of this advertisement in the August 27, 1766, edition of the Georgia Gazette. The methodology of the Adverts 250 Project usually precludes examining any advertisement more than once but allows for exceptions when doing so illuminates some aspect of eighteenth-century practices or consumer culture. In this case, an advertisement that practically became a permanent feature of the Georgia Gazette merited attention. Its frequency should not be misconstrued to suggest that Johnston was desperate to sell surplus copies of the map (though that might have also been the case). Instead, when read alongside the notice hawking printed blanks, this advertisement might better be interpreted as a device for completing the page or the issue when lacking other content.