November 30

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

Nov 30 - 11:30:1767 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (November 30, 1767).

“The Manufacturers of PAPER at Milton, beg the Favor of the Public, to furnish them with what Linnen Rags they can spare.”

In the wake of the Townshend Act assessing new duties on imported paper, colonists set about manufacturing their own. Just ten days after the act went into effect, this advertisement appeared in the Boston-Gazette. In it, the “Manufacturers of PAPER at Milton” called on colonists to send their “Linnen Rags” to be made into paper. In return, they would receive payment, “the greatest possible Allowance.”

To that end, the Manufacturers at Milton established a network for collecting the rags. They listed five locations in Boston, including the printing office where Edes and Gill published the Boston-Gazette. Bulkeley Emerson, a stationer, also received castoff rags in Newburyport, while Daniel Fowle, one of the printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette, accepted them in Portsmouth. In addition, they had local agents in Salem and Marblehead. Yet the Manufacturers at Milton wished to further expand their network, requesting that volunteers “send their Names to Edes and Gill’s Printing-Office.”

New duties on paper threatened the livelihoods of colonial printers and stationers, one of the reasons why so many members of the network came from those trades, but Parliament’s actions also infringed on the liberties of all colonists. The network included a shopkeeper and a tobacconist, both apparently concerned about the Townshend Act. The Manufacturers at Milton presumably welcomed new agents from various occupations, hoping to establish a united front in the domestic production of paper as an alternative to imports.

The Manufacturers at Milton did not yet offer a product to consumers. In the spirit of the non-importation agreements and resolutions to encourage domestic goods recently passed at the Boston town meeting, however, they presented a plan for achieving those goals. They also offered a means for colonists to become more involved in resistance efforts beyond making decisions about which goods to purchase. Colonists could shape the marketplace by supplying the necessary rags to make paper locally, eventually eliminating the need for additional imported paper once the current supplies that arrived in the colonies “before the Duties could be demanded” had been exhausted. Even if readers of the Boston-Gazette had little cause to obtain much paper themselves, they had acquired the newspaper, making them consumers of paper removed from its initial purchase. By surrendering their rags to the Manufacturers at Milton, colonists participated in a movement that deprived Parliament of new duties on paper and assisted colonial printers in disseminating news about the Townshend Act and resistance to it.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 30, 1767

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

Nov 30 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - New-York Gazette Slavery 1
New-York Gazette (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - New-York Gazette Slavery 2
New-York Gazette (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - New-York Gazette Slavery 3
New-York Gazette (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - New-York Gazette Slavery 4
New-York Gazette (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - New-York Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Mercury (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - New-York Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Mercury (November 30, 1767).

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Nov 30 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (November 30, 1767).

November 29

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

Nov 29 - 11:26:1767 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (November 26, 1767).

“English and Dutch Almanacks may be had at the same Place.”

Among the many advertisements in the November 26, 1767, edition of the New-York Journal and its supplement, printer John Holt’s advertisement for almanacs appeared first. Like many other newspaper publishers, Holt carried a variety of almanacs to suit the needs and preferences of potential customers. When it came to selecting this annual reference volume, many colonists had likely developed some sort of nascent brand loyalty to particular versions and looked for their favorite publications with familiar features. Name recognition helped to move “FREEMAN’s New-York Royal Sheet Almanack” and the “New-York Pocket Almanack” out of the printing shop and into homes throughout the port city and beyond.

In promoting an array of almanacs with various features and formats, Holt acknowledged the ethnic and religious diversity of colonial New York. In addition to the particular titles mentioned first in his advertisement, Holt also proclaimed that “English and Dutch Almanacks may be had at the same place.” The English conquest of New Netherland (now New York) had occurred a century earlier. Descendants of the original Dutch settlers resided throughout the colony, comprising a potential market for almanacs in the language they passed down from one generation to the next.

In printing, marketing, and selling almanacs, Holt also catered to another constituency, one that was much smaller than the Dutch population. Still, a sufficient number of Jewish colonists resided in New York to justify the expense of printing a “Kalender of the Sabbaths, Months, and other Holy-days, which the Jews observe and keep.” This was not a separate publication but was instead added to some copies of the English almanacs, transforming them into distinctive editions intended for specific readers. Holt did not indicate whether the “Kalender of Sabbaths” had been added as a supplement or if other content had been removed in order to make room for it. Either way, almanacs for Jewish colonists were simultaneously part of and separate from the assortment of almanacs marketed and sold in the colonies, reflecting other aspects of Jewish experiences in eighteenth-century America.

Advertisements for almanacs appeared with increasing frequency in newspapers throughout the colonies during the final months of the year in the 1760s. Printers and booksellers resorted to a variety of marketing strategies to convince consumers to purchase their almanacs. In New York, a busy port with residents from many backgrounds, John Holt advertised titles that reflected some of the ethnic and religious diversity of his potential customers.

November 28

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

Nov 28 - 11:28:1767 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (November 28, 1767).

“Practitioners, and others, in the country, on sending a line, may depend on being as well used as by any apothecary in New-England.”

Jabez Bowen, Jr., inserted an advertisement promoting his “LARGE and general assortment of the most valuable DRUGS and MEDICINES, both chymical and galenical,” in the November 28, 1767, edition of the Providence Gazette. In it, he listed a variety of popular patent medicines as well as medical equipment, all of it stocked “At his SHOP, fronting the Great Bridge, in PROVIDENCE.” Realizing that the Providence Gazette circulated far beyond that port, Bowen included a note to “Practitioners, and others, in the country” who might not be able to visit his shop themselves. He offered a mail order service, promising that “on sending a line, [they] may depend on being as well used as by any apothecary in New-England, the pay being adequate.”

Bowen knew that he faced competition from other apothecaries, not only those from Providence but also others from Boston, a much larger city. Those competitors distributed their advertisements throughout New England and beyond via four newspapers, giving them another advantage over Bowen. Although shopkeepers sometimes advertised that they served customers “in the country” when they sent orders by mail, apothecaries most regularly incorporated this marketing strategy into their advertisements. In his attempts to operate a prosperous business, Bowen also participated in this practice, proclaiming that he would not be overshadowed by competitors from Providence, Boston, or anywhere else. His customers could “depend on being as well used as by any apothecary in New-England.” In making this claim, Bowen offered both service and value to prospective customers.

Yet he also made clear that he aimed to establish commercial relationships mutually beneficial to both parties. He qualified his pledge that customers would be “as well used as by any apothecary” with the caveat of “the pay being adequate.” He was not so desperate for business that he would allow customers to take advantage of him. Bowen sold his medicines and supplies “on the most reasonable terms,” but expected clients to acknowledge the value of his wares and the service he provided in packaging orders and dispatching them to “the country.” In so doing, he indicated that he was as professional and as competent as his counterparts in Boston, capable of delivering on the promises he made in his advertisements.

November 27

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

Nov 27 - 11:27:1767 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (November 27, 1767).

At his Shop … in the Street leading from Liberty Bridge to the Mill Dam.”

Like their counterparts in other colonial cities and towns, advertisers in Portsmouth used a variety of landmarks to identify the locations of their shops in the November 27, 1767, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette. James McDonogh peddled his wares “At his Store on Spring Hill.” Jonathan and Samuel Sparhawk stocked a variety of goods “At the Sign of the State House, near the Parade.” Edmund Davis ran a shop “next Door to the Sign of the Goldsmiths Arms in Queen Street.”

Pierse Long included the most elaborate directions in his advertisement: “At his Shop near the Reverend Mr. Haven’s Meeting House, in the Street leading from Liberty Bridge to the Mill Dam.” These directions referenced an important landmark with renewed significance: the Liberty Bridge. The Townshend Act went into effect a week earlier, spurring heightened anxieties and contemplation about the meaning of political and economic liberty among American colonists. Elsewhere in the November 27 issue, the printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette inserted updates about the actions taken by the Boston town meeting “to discourage the use of foreign Superfluities as the only means of saving the Country from impending ruin.” The first page featured an extensive item reprinted from the Boston Post-Boy. In it, an anonymous author addressed “My Dear Countrymen” and recommended “the disuse of the most luxurious and enervating article of BOHEA TEA” in favor of Labrador tea cultivated in North America. In summation, that author argued, “Thus my countrymen, by consuming less of what we are not really in want of, and by industriously cultivating and improving the natural advantages of our own country, we might save our substance, even our lands, from becoming the property of others, and we might effectually preserve our virtue and our liberty, to the latest posterity.” The Fowles also reprinted a poem “ADRESSED TO THE LADIES” from the Massachusetts Gazette that encouraged wearing homespun instead of imported textiles and instructed female consumers to “Throw aside your Bohea, and your Green Hyson Tea.” Both news and entertainment items addressed the imbalance of trade between Britain and the colonies, a situation that became even more troubling with the imposition of new duties on certain imported goods.

Long found himself in a difficult position. He sold a variety of imported goods, including “BOHEA TEA.” He almost certainly wished to move his merchandise as quickly as possible before local consumers signed on to non-importation agreements. He may have believed that making a nod toward the concerns expressed by so many concerned colonists could help in that endeavor, so even though he continued to sell “BOHEA TEA” and other imported goods he also connected his business to the nearby Liberty Bridge. On occasion, advertisers previously invoked the Liberty Bridge when explaining to potential customers how to find their shops, but doing so had mostly disappeared from advertisements in the New-Hampshire Gazette since the repeal of the Stamp Act. It had been the period that the Stamp Act was still in effect that advertisers in Portsmouth most actively incorporated the Liberty Bridge into their commercial notices. It hardly seems a coincidence that Long revived that method at a time of renewed unrest at the end of November 1767. Doing so may have better positioned his business in the minds of potential customers, perhaps even helping them to justify one last purchase of problematic commodities as long as they did so from a shopkeeper who shared their worries about attempts to curtail their liberty.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 27, 1767

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

Nov 27 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 27, 1767).

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Nov 27 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 27, 1767).

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Nov 27 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 27, 1767).

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Nov 27 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 27, 1767).

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Nov 27 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 27, 1767).

November 26

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

Nov 26 - 11:26:1767 Massachusetts Gazette
Massachusetts Gazette (November 26, 1767).

“Enquire of the Printer.”

In the late fall of 1767, an anonymous colonist placed a notice in the Massachusetts Gazette announcing that he “WANTED 6 very good Saddle Horses.” Anyone who could provide pacers who met the specifications in the advertisement was requested to “Enquire of the Printer.”

In the November 26 edition, a “Servant Man that will do any Sort of laborious Business in a Family” informed readers that he “WANTS Employ.” He did not provide any additional information about his background or previous experience, but instead stated that “He may be heard of by enquiring at Draper’s Printing Office.”

In the same issue, a slaveholder offered a short description of “A Likely healthy Negro Fellow” who was “TO BE SOLD.” The enslaved man had previously labored as a domestic servant and had cared for a horse, but he was “very capable of learning any other Business.” Anyone interested in acquiring the slave needed to “Enquire ay Draper’s Printing-Office.”

Another colonist sought tenants for “a handsome Dwelling-House … near LIBERTY TREE” in the south end of Boston. The advertisement did not include any other particulars, except for instructions to “Enquire of the Printer” if interested.

Eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements frequently advised readers to “Enquire of the Printer.” As a result, printing offices became places where colonists converged to exchange information, not just locations where printers compiled “the freshest Advices, Foreign and Domestick” (as some mastheads asserted) in newspapers before distributing them to readers near and far. Even as coffeehouses became increasingly popular places to conduct business, printing offices provided an alternate venue. In some instances printers may have done little more than make introductions between advertisers and readers (a service likely provided free of charge to those who purchased advertising space), but that still placed them at the center of networks for exchanging information. Printers served as gatekeepers of information, exercising their own prerogatives in choosing which news, letters, and other items to publish in newspapers as well as withholding certain details relevant to paid notices at the request of advertisers. Their fellow colonists, just like the news, flowed into as well as out of their printing offices.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 26, 1767

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

Nov 26 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

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Nov 26 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette (November 26, 1767).

November 25

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

Nov 25 - 11:25:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

“LOAF SUGAR, BOHEA TEAD, MENS SADDLES.”

The typography of John Rae’s advertisement distinguished it from others that ran in the November 25, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette. Most of the items for sale in his list-style advertisement appeared in capital letters, a style deployed sparingly elsewhere among the paid notices. This indicates that the advertiser sometimes exercised some influence over the format of advertisements in the eighteenth century, even though standard practice dictated that the advertisers write copy but leave it to the discretion of printers and compositors to determine the layout and other typographical aspects of advertisements.

Rae’s advertisement suggests collaboration between advertiser and compositor. Compared to newspapers printed in other colonies, especially in the largest port cities, the Georgia Gazette featured relatively little innovative typography in its advertisements. The compositor generally adhered to a particular format in order to achieve speed and efficiency when setting type. Rae may not have specifically instructed that his goods appear in capital letters; instead, he may have merely requested some unique attribute to attract the attention of potential customers. The compositor, less imaginative than counterparts in printing offices in other colonies, may have considered the capital letters an adequate solution.

The headline – “The Subscriber has for Sale” – in an ornate font also may have been an attempt to create a distinctive visual style for Rae’s advertisement. Four other advertisements in the November 25 issue included headlines: “Wanted to Hire,” “Wanted on Hire,” “To be Hired by the Month or Year,” and “Brought to the Work-house.” Each of these introduced advertisements concerning servants or slaves, again hinting that the compositor devised particular methods for setting type for specific kinds of advertisements. Rae may have disrupted that system by requesting that his headline appear in that font. Alternately, when pressed to spruce up Rae’s advertisement, the compositor may have resorted to a familiar method that did not require excessive creativity. The compositor may have been capable of only limited innovation.

The visual aspects of Rae’s advertisement raise many questions about the process that went into creating it. It may be tempting to dismiss its format as arbitrary or haphazard, but comparing it to others on the same page reveals that someone – advertiser, compositor, or the two in collaboration – made deliberate choices in creating an advertisement that differed from all others in the same issue.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published November 19-25, 1767

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of November 19-25, 1767.

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 (including the Pennsylvania Journal); and
  • Newspapers published in a language other than English (including the Wochentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote).

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Slavery Advertisements Published November 19-25, 1767:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Date Nov 19

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Slavery Advertisements Published November 19-25, 1767:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Region Nov 19