What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“To be sold by SARAH GODDARD.”
Even after retiring and relocating from Providence to Philadelphia, it did not take long for Sarah Goddard to appear among the advertisers in the Pennsylvania Chronicle. The final advertisement in the December 5, 1768, announced that the former printer of the Providence Gazette sold books “in Chestnut Street, between Second and Third Streets.” Just a month earlier she published a farewell address in the Providence Gazette, the newspaper that she had published for more than two years. In that notices she turned over operations to John Carter, her partner at the printing office for more than a year, and announced that she planned “in a few days to embark for Philadelphia.” She regretted leaving Providence, stating that “in her advanced age” only the “endearing Ties of Nature which exist between a Parent and an only Son, who is now settled in the City of Philadelphia” prompted her departure. Indeed, William Goddard ran “the NEW PRINTING-OFFICE in Market-Street” in Philadelphia, where he had been publishing the Pennsylvania Chronicle for nearly two years.
It did not take long after her arrival in Philadelphia for Goddard to make her entrepreneurial spirit known, though her advertisement does not indicate the scope of her activities. It listed nine books for sale, but did not indicate whether Goddard offered a single copy of each. She may have been reducing the size of her own library, placing an advertisement for secondhand goods like many other colonists who were not shopkeepers. The “&c.” (an eighteenth-century abbreviation for et cetera) that concluded her list of available titles suggested that she also sold other books. Perhaps Goddard ran a small shop to generate some supplemental income in her retirement, an enterprise significantly smaller than the printing office in Providence. To help her get established in a new city, her son may have inserted her notice gratis in his newspaper. Whatever the extent of her bookselling business, Goddard did not remain in (partial) retirement for long. William was frequently absent and did not provide effective management of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, so Sarah once again found herself overseeing a printing office in 1769. Her advertisement from December 1768 previewed the visibility she would achieve as a printer and entrepreneur in the largest urban port in the colonies.