What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“A large Assortment of English Goods and Hard-Ware.”
Joseph and William Russell were among Sarah Goddard and Company’s most loyal advertisers in the Providence Gazette. Even when the publication experienced a lull in paid notices during the winter and into the spring of 1767, the Russells continued to place advertisements for the imported goods they sold at their shop at the Sign of the Golden Eagle. On occasion, their full-page advertisement dominated the entire newspaper.
Some of their other advertisements were more modest, but even as they placed notices for purposes other than marketing their goods the Russells made sure to remind readers and potential customers that they “have to sell a large Assortment of English Goods and Hard-Ware” at low prices. Such was the case in this advertisement announcing that they sought tenants to rent “a Convenient Dwelling-House” in the northern part of Providence. This was not the first time they adopted such a strategy in their advertisements. Six months earlier they had evenly divided the space in a previous advertisement, first issuing a call for prospective renters for what might have been the same “Convenient Dwelling-House” and then hawking their “compleat Assortment of English GOODS” and, especially, “Excellent Bohea Tea, which for smell and flavor, exceeds most any ever imported.”
The Russells’ advertisement from August 1767 was not nearly as elaborate, yet the shopkeepers still determined that it should fulfill multiple purposes. They may have figured that as long as circumstances forced them once again to advertise a house for rent in the Providence Gazette that they might as well attempt to gain as much of a return on their investment in advertising as possible. Greater numbers of competitors had turned to the local newspaper to advertise throughout the spring and summer. Having previously established their reputation as retailers in the public prints, Joseph and William Russell reminded readers that they sold similar merchandise also advertised by William Brown, John Mathewson, Benjamin West, and others elsewhere in the issue.