November 18

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

Nov 18 - 11:18:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

“Several other articles too tedious to mention.”

Samuel Douglass and Company did not want prospective customers to merely take them at their word that they stocked “A COMPLEAT ASSORTMENT of EUROPEAN and EAST-INDIA GOODS.” To demonstrate their extensive inventory they published a newspaper advertisement that listed hundred of items available at their shop. That advertisement began at the bottom of one column and entirely filled the next, making it rather unique among advertisements in the Georgia Gazette in the 1760s. Other merchants and shopkeepers in Savannah sometimes placed list-style advertisements, but the longest typically extended one-quarter or one-third of a column.

Due to its length, Douglass and Company’s advertisement was one of the most prominent items in the November 18, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette. It accounted for slightly more than one of the eight columns of content in the issue, certainly a significant investment for Douglass and Company and a windfall for printer James Johnston. The Georgia Gazette sometimes struggled to attract advertisers, as demonstrated by the generous white space that separated paid notices in other issues, but in this instance shorter advertisements had an even more compact appearance as the result of efforts to make them all fit within the standard four-page issue.

Although an advertisement of such length was rather extraordinary in the Georgia Gazette, it would not necessarily have looked out of place to colonists. Regular readers would have certainly noticed it because it deviated from the advertisements that usually appeared in that newspaper, but newspapers printed in other colonies circulated so widely that readers likely would have encountered similar lengthy advertisements in other publications. Douglass and Company may have figured that if shopkeepers in other colonial ports found the method effective enough that they repeatedly placed notices that filled an entire column that it might be worth trying the same strategy in their local newspaper as a means of distinguishing themselves from their competitors.

In placing this advertisement, Douglass and Company announced to the residents of Savannah and its hinterland that even though they resided in the most recently established colony they still had access to the same variety of consumer goods sold in Boston, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere throughout the colonies. To underscore that point, they concluded their list by asserting that they also carried “several other articles too tedious to mention.”

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published November 12-18, 1767

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of November 12-18, 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 12-18, 1767:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Date Nov 12

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Slavery Advertisements Published November 12-18, 1767:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Region Nov 12

Slavery Advertisements Published November 18, 1767

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

Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

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Nov 18 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 9
Georgia Gazette (November 18, 1767).

November 17

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

Nov 17 - 11:17:1767 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

“ELIZABETH ROFFE HAS just importeda fresh assortment of GOODS.”

On November 16, 1767, the Boston Post-Boy published an “Address to the LADIES,” a poem that advised women to refrain from purchasing imported goods in favor of wearing “cloaths of your own make and spinn.” In addition to donning homespun, the anonymous poet recommended that women substitute Labrador tea indigenous to North America for Bohea and Hyson cultivated in other parts of the world and shipped through English ports. The poet also gave advice for courtship: “agree that you’ll not married be / To such as will wear London Fact’ry” and instead encourage relationships only with men who clothed themselves in “our own Manufact’ry.” Despite this brief acknowledgment that men purchased imported textiles and other goods, the poet positioned women as the primary consumers in the colonies, a common assumption among poets and essayists who critiqued consumer culture in the public prints in the decades before the American Revolution. The author underscored the urgency of following these instructions by stating that “money’s so scarce, and times growing worse,” referring to an imbalance of trade with Britain that drained the colonies of hard currency. Concerns about “times growing worse” may have also included the imposition of the Townshend Act in less than a week.

The “Address to the LADIES” portrayed women as consumers. It did not, however, address women as purveyors of consumer goods. The poet imagined women’s participation in the marketplace confined to consumption alone, envisioning even the acts of production required to generate homespun as individual labors that did not extend to marketing, selling, or otherwise participating in commerce as retailers rather than shoppers. Yet women operated their own shops and ran other businesses throughout the colonies, especially in the largest and busiest port cities.

Female entrepreneurs were certainly underrepresented among advertisers who promoted consumer goods and services in eighteenth-century newspapers, but they were not completely absent. The day after readers in Boston perused the “Address to the LADIES” the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal ran two advertisements placed by women. Katharine Lind and Elizabeth Roffe each inserted list-style advertisements that named dozens of items they recently imported and stocked in their shops in Charleston. They also advanced other appeals made by their male counterparts, including price and quality.

Even as the author of the “Address to the LADIES” called on women to practice politics through their consumer choices, he or she overlooked the important role women played on the other side of the production/consumption equation. Calling on female retailers to alter their relationships with English merchants who supplied their wares, however, would have required also lecturing their male counterparts. That would have distributed responsibility to both men and women, whereas imagining consumption as predominantly a feminine pursuit conveniently allocated blame to women alone. It made them responsible for the vices and disadvantages associated with importing and purchasing an array of goods instead of relying on American manufactures. This scapegoating ignored the entrepreneurial efforts of women like Lind and Roffe while simultaneously sparing their male peers from critique.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 17, 1767

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

Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

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Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

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Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

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Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

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Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

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Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

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Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

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Nov 17 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 17, 1767).

November 16

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

Nov 16 - 11:16:1767 Boston Evening-Post
Boston Evening-Post (November 16, 1767).

“To be sold by John Spooner, Choice Raisins.”

Considered on its own, John Spooner’s advertisement seems to do little by way of marketing. At a glance, this item appears to be merely an announcement. Its length – short enough to publish in a modern tweet (even a few days ago before Twitter doubled the numbers of characters) – did not allow Spooner to develop appeals to consumers, though he did make a nod toward quality by describing his raisins as “Choice.” The typography may have also drawn readers’ eyes, though the phrase “Choice Raisins” was no larger than the names of advertisers John Hunt, Henry Laughton, and Joshua Blanchard elsewhere on the same page.

The potential effectiveness of this advertisement cannot be understood by examining the copy and the layout alone. Taking into account its placement on the page relative to the specific content of other items, Spooner’s advertisement becomes much more powerful as an example of product placement in the eighteenth century.

It appeared in the middle column on the front page, immediately after a “Receipt

to make RAISIN WINE.” T. and J. Fleet, the printers of the Boston Evening-Post, reported that they were “desired to publish” the recipe “for the benefit of the public,” though they did not indicate who made that recommendation. While Spooner may not have had any influence on the layout of news items and advertisements, the placement of his advertisement for “Choice Raisins” right after the recipe for raisin wine certainly seems like more than a fortunate coincidence. It raises suspicions that Spooner may not have considered it necessary to devise more extensive copy because he planned to have the recipe do the necessary marketing to incite demand for his raisins.

Even though it appeared as a separate and distinct item, perhaps the recipe should be considered one portion of a slightly longer advertisement. Some of its instructions suggested that consumers needed to obtain raisins as soon as possible if they wished to make their own raisin wine. The first line advised that readers should begin the process in October or November. Given that it appeared in print midway through November, readers needed to make haste getting started. That included purchasing the necessary supplies, especially raisins. The recipe eventually acknowledged that the process “may be begun in February or March,” but concluded with an assertion that “the fall is the best time.” The recipe then almost seamlessly flowed into Spooner’s advertisement for “Choice Raisins.”

The placement of the recipe and Spooner’s advertisement suggests deliberate product placement in an eighteenth-century newspaper. On its own, Spooner’s notice does not appear particularly innovative, but when considered in the context it may very well have deployed the most sophisticated marketing strategy of any advertisement in that issues of the Boston Evening-Post.

Nov 16 - 11:16:1767 Recipe Boston Evening-Post
Boston Evening-Post (November 16, 1767).

Slavery Advertisements Published November 16, 1767

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

Nov 16 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 3
Boston Evening-Post (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 1
Boston Post-Boy (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Slavery 6
New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).

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Nov 16 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (November 16, 1767).