December 26

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

Boston Evening-Post (December 26, 1768).

“Ravens Duck | Bohea Tea | Mason Glasses.”

Samuel Fletcher aimed to use typography to his advantage in an advertisement that ran in the December 26, 1768, edition of the Boston Evening-Post. In it, he listed a variety of imported goods among the inventory at his store “Near the Draw-Bridge,” including textiles, tea, and housewares. The contents of Fletcher’s advertisement did not much differ from what appeared in other notices for consumer goods placed in the Boston Evening-Post and other newspapers published in the busy port. The format, however, distinguished Fletcher’s advertisement from many others.

Fletcher enumerated approximately sixty items, organizing them into three columns that trisected the advertisement. Other advertisers that listed their wares tended to do so in dense paragraphs that did not feature any white space. Such was the case in Gilbert Deblois’s advertisement immediately below Fletcher’s notice and Joseph Barrell’s advertisement immediately to the right. Yet Fletcher was not alone among merchants and shopkeepers in electing to divide his goods into columns. Elsewhere on the same page, Samuel Allyne Otis divided his advertisement into two columns. Joshua Blanchard incorporated visual variety into his advertisement, publishing a short list of wines followed by a paragraph that promoted the quality of customer service his clients could anticipate. Although many advertisers opted for the standard dense paragraph, some experimented with other formats.

Fletcher’s decision to use columns came with one disadvantage. He could not list as many items in the same amount of space. Still, he managed to provide a general preview, enough to suggest an array of choices for consumers, before concluding with the phrase “With many Articles not mentioned” running across all three columns. This signaled to prospective customers that he did not necessarily stock fewer choices than his competitors, only that he organized them differently in his advertisement. In the spirit of “less is more,” listing fewer items but in a format with sufficient white space that allowed readers to navigate the contents of the advertisement more easily could have drawn attention to specific entries much more readily than had they appeared amidst a dense list of merchandise. For Fletcher’s advertisement, the typography very well could have been as effective as the copy.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 26, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 23-29, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Roxann Wint (2020), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Boston-Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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Connecticut Courant (December 26, 1768).

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Massachusetts Gazette [Green and Russell] (December 26, 1768).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (December 26, 1768).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (December 26, 1768).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (December 26, 1768).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (December 26, 1768).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (December 26, 1768).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (December 26, 1768).

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New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (December 26, 1768).

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New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (December 26, 1768).

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Pennsylvania Chronicle (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (December 26, 1768).

December 25

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

South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

“New Advertisements.”

There were no “New Advertisements” on December 25, 1768. No newspapers were published in colonial America 250 years ago today, but not because it happened to be Christmas day. December 25 fell on a Sunday in 1768. No colonial printers published newspapers on Sundays. They did, however, print and circulate new issues on December 25 when it fell on any day except for Sunday. This calendar provides an overview of the distribution of newspaper publication throughout the colonies in 1768. It includes publications with significant numbers that have been digitized and included in databases produced by Accessible Archives, Colonial Williamsburg, and Readex. Others may have been published, but they either have not survived or have not been incorporated into databases that make them more accessible to scholars, students, and the general public.

As the calendar demonstrates, newspapers were published somewhere in colonial America every day of the week except Sunday. Publication tended to cluster on Mondays and Thursdays. Every newspaper carried advertisements. Some even issued additional advertising supplements. Many included colophons that called on readers to submit advertisements, an important revenue stream for colonial printers.

Mondays

  • Boston Chronicle (Boston, Massachusetts: Mein and Fleeming)
  • Boston Evening-Post (Boston, Massachusetts: T. and J. Fleet)
  • Boston-Gazette (Boston, Massachusetts: Edes and Gill)
  • Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser (Boston, Massachusetts: Green and Russell)
  • Connecticut Courant (Hartford, Connecticut: Green and Watson)
  • Massachusetts Gazette (Boston, Massachusetts: Green and Russell)
  • Newport Mercury (Newport, Rhode Island: Solomon Southwick)
  • New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury (New York, New York: Hugh Gaine)
  • New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (New York, New York: James Parker)
  • Pennsylvania Chronicle (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: William Goddard)
  • Pennsylvanische Staatsbote (Germantown, Pennsylvania: Henrich Miller)
  • South-Carolina Gazette (Charleston, South Carolina: Peter Timothy)

Tuesdays

  • Essex Gazette (Salem, Massachusetts: Samuel Hall)
  • South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (Charleston, South Carolina: Charles Crouch)

Wednesdays

  • Georgia Gazette (Savannah, Georgia: James Johnston)

Thursdays

  • Boston Weekly News-Letter (Boston, Massachusetts: Richard Draper)
  • Massachusetts Gazette (Boston, Massachusetts: Richard Draper)
  • New-York Journal: Or, the General Advertiser (New York, New York: John Holt)
  • Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: David Hall and William Sellers)
  • Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: William and Thomas Bradford)
  • Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Virginia: Alex. Purdie and John Dixon)
  • Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Virginia: William Rind)

Fridays

  • Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy (New-Haven, Connecticut: T. and S. Green)
  • New-Hampshire Gazette and Historical Chronicle (Portsmouth, New-Hampshire: D. and R. Fowle)
  • New-London Gazette (New-London, Connecticut: Timothy Green)
  • South-Carolina and American General Gazette (Charleston, South Carolina: Robert Wells)

Saturdays

  • Providence Gazette and Country Journal (Providence, Rhode Island: Sarah Goddard and John Carter)

 

December 24

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

Providence Gazette (December 24, 1768).

“PATRICK MACKEY … has opened a Skinner’s Shop.”

When Patrick Mackey arrived in Providence from Philadelphia, he set about establishing himself in a new town and building a clientele for his business by placing an advertisement in the December 24, 1768, edition of the Providence Gazette. He announced that “he has opened a Skinner’s Shop near the Hay-Ward, on the East Side of the Great Bridge, between Mr. Godfry’s and the Sign of the Bull,” offering familiar landmarks to aid customers in navigating to his location. Realizing that prospective customers were unfamiliar with his work, Mackey underscored that “he has worked in the principal Parts of Europe and America.” As a result, he “doubts not of gaining the Approbation of his Customers” once they gave him the opportunity to provide his services. He offered further assurances that his leather and skins were “dressed in the best Manner.” In case skill and quality were not sufficient to draw clients to the newcomer’s shop, Mackey also promoted his prices, proclaiming that he sold his wares “as cheap as any in Town.” In his first introduction to Providence in the public prints, Mackey deployed several of the most common advertising appeals used by artisans in eighteenth-century America.

Yet Mackey went beyond the expected methods of encouraging prospective customers to patronize his business. He also invoked his collaboration with colleagues who enhanced the services available at his shop. In addition to selling materials, he also had a “Breeches-maker, who learned his Business in Europe” on staff to transform his leathers and skins into garments for “Any Gentlemen who may please to employ him.” In addition, Mackey reported in a nota bene that Benjamin Coates, a cordwainer, “carries on his Business at the same Place.” Clients interested in Mackey’s services could also “be suited in the best Manner with all Kinds of Boots, Spatterdashes, Shoes, Slippers, &c.” at the same location. In his efforts to build his customer base, Mackey offered convenience in addition to quality and low prices. His clients did not need to visit other artisans at other locations after acquiring materials at his shop. Instead, they could consult directly with a cordwainer and a breechesmaker on the premises. All three artisans stood to benefit from such an arrangement. Increased patronage for one of them likely yielded additional business for the others.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 24, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 23-29, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Roxann Wint (2020), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Providence Gazette (December 24, 1768).

December 23

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (December 23, 1768).

Ames’s Almanack, For the Year of our Lord CHRIST, 1769.”

Among the many options available to colonists in New England, An Astronomical Diary, or, Almanack for the Year of Our Lord Christ 1769 by Nathaniel Ames was quite popular. Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, publishers of the New-Hampshire Gazette, advertised several almanacs in the December 23, 1768, edition. One advertisement briefly announced “WEST’s ALMANACK, for 1769, containing many useful Things, sold by the Printers hereof. ALSO, BICKERSTAFF’s famous Boston Almanac, for 1769.” A much longer advertisement for “Ames’s Almanack,” however, listed many of the contents, including “Courts in Massachusetts-Bay, New-Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode-Island” and “Public Roads, with the best Stages or Houses to put up at.”

The position of the advertisements on the page also differentiated them. The advertisement for Ames’s Almanack was the first item in the first column of the final page, but the shorter notice for West’s Almanack and Bickerstaff’s Almanack was the last item inserted in the final column. If a reader held aloft that issue of the New-Hampshire Gazette while perusing the contents of the center pages, the advertisement for Ames’s Almanack would have been the first item observers noticed on the other side of the page. The advertisement for the other two almanacs, in contrast, did not have the same privileged place. Appearing last, it may have been filler that rounded out the last column on the final page.

The Fowles also commented on the volume of Ames’s Almanack that they anticipated selling to readers and retailers. They offered that title “by the Groce, Dozen or Single,” but did not indicate that they sold West’s Almanack or Bickerstaff’s Almanack in large quantities. If advertisements in other newspapers published the same day are any indication, there was indeed a vast market for the 1769 edition of Ames’s Almanack in New England. An advertisement in the New-London Gazette simply announced, “Ames’s Almanack, TO BE SOLD, At the Printing-Office.” An equally sparse advertisement in the Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy stated, “AMES’s ALMANACK, for 1769, To be sold at the Printing-Office in N. Haven.” William Carter and Company’s advertisement immediately above concluded with a nota bene that informed prospective customers that “A few of AMES’s Almanacks, for 1769, to be sold at said Store.” Carter and Company apparently purchased by the gross or dozen from a printer or bookseller in order to integrate this popular almanac into their inventory of imported goods, rum, sugar, and beaver hats. The Fowles sold legitimate copies printed by William McAlpine in Boston, but the others may have peddled pirated copies produced by a cabal of rival printers who wished to claim a share of the market.

As the new year approached, printers, booksellers, and retailers promoted various almanacs to prospective customers in late December 1768. Among the many choices, Ames’s Almanack was especially popular among readers throughout New England, so much so that it appeared in advertisements printed in multiple newspapers published in several colonies. The details provided in some of those advertisements sometimes eclipsed the amount of information in notices for other almanacs. Its popularity may have resulted in more extensive advertising. In turn, that more extensive advertising likely further augmented demand for the popular almanac.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 23, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 23-29, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Roxann Wint (2020), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Connecticut Journal (December 23, 1768).

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New-London Gazette (December 23, 1768).

December 22

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

Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

“A SCHEME of a LOTTERY.”

Bernard Moore did not specify why he set about “disposing of certain LANDS, SLAVES, and STOCKS” when he published “A SCHEME of a LOTTERY” in the December 22, 1768, edition of William Rind’s Virginia Gazette. Whether he planned to leave the colony or needed the funds to settle debts or some other reason, Moore aimed to raise a guaranteed £18,400 through the sale of lottery tickets rather individual sales of “LANDS, SLAVES, and STOCKS” or an auction that may not have raised the same revenue as the lottery. Of the 124 possible prizes, real estate and livestock comprised the majority, but a total of fifty-five enslaved men, women, and children accounted for the prizes for thirty-nine winning tickets.

Approximately half of Moore’s advertisement listed those men, women, and children held in bondage, describing their relationships and their skills. In some instances Moore intended to keep family members together as a single prize. Such was the case for a “Negro man named Billy, … an exceeding trusty good forgeman” and “his wife named Lucy, … who works exceeding well both in the house and field” as well as a “Negro woman named Rachel … and her children Daniel and Thompson.” Moore separated other families. One prize consisted of a “Negro man, Robin, a good sawyer, and Bella, his wife,” but not their children. “A negro girl named Sukey, about 12 years old, and another named Betty, about 7 years old; children of Robin and Bella” constituted a different prize. Barring some stroke of luck, parents and children would be separated on the day of the drawing.

As the descriptions of Billy, Lucy, and Robin indicate, Moore owned enslaved workers who possessed a variety of skills beyond agricultural labor. Many of them worked in the “forge and grist-mill” also offered as a prize. Moore included these descriptions of their abilities: “a very trusty good forgeman, as well at the finery as under the hammer, and understands putting up his fire,” “a fine chaferyman,” “an exceeding good hammerman and finer,” “an exceeding good forge carpenter, cooper, and clapboard carpenter,” “a very fine blacksmith,” and “a very fine master collier.” Moore also acknowledged gradations of skill level, describing other colliers as “very good” or “good.” Other workers possessed skills not necessarily related to operating the forge, including “a good miller,” “an exceeding trusty good waggoner,” “a good carter,” “a good sawyer,” and “the Skipper” of a flat-bottomed boat.

Moore described a community, though his “SCHEME of a LOTTERY” and his treatment of enslaved men, women, and children as prizes for the winners did not acknowledge it. Indeed, good fortune was not the lot for the twenty-eight men, fourteen women (including the pregnant Pat), and thirteen children. Other sorts of advertisements concerning slaves typically described only one or a few individuals, but the extensive list of names, ages, relationships, and skills in Moore’s notice about his lottery sketched an entire community. Moore intended to raise funds, but he unintentionally produced a document that aids subsequent generations in uncovering the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children who had far fewer opportunities than slaveholders to tell their own stories.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 22, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 16-22, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Megan Watts (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Massachusetts Gazette [Draper] (December 22, 1768).

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Supplement to the New-York Journal (December 22, 1768).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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Pennsylvania Journal (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (December 22, 1768).

December 21

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

Georgia Gazette (December 21, 1768).

“The gentlemen of this town would be so kind as to come to his shop to be dressed.”

In December 1768, John Roques, a wigmaker and hairdresser in Savannah, informed current and prospective clients that he wished to scale back one of the services he provided. Rather than visit “the gentlemen of this town” at their homes, he requested that they instead “come to his shop to be dressed.” Roques did not apologize or express apprehension about eliminating a service that clients previously found valuable. Instead, he offered an explanation that portrayed his business as thriving and justified his decision.

Roques asserted that he could no longer visit the homes of his clients due to “the great fatigue he was obliged to undergo every day.” The hairdresser was so popular, his services so in demand, that he was being run ragged all over town. He insisted that keeping such a routine had been “very pernicious to his health,” but that was not his primary reason for changing his terms of service. Being away from his shop meant that he “could not give satisfaction” to all of his clients; he did not mean that he provided shoddy assistance but rather that he had to decline to wait on some clients because they sent for him “three or four at once,” making it impossible for him to attend all of them in their homes. Instructing clients to visit his shop allowed Roques to focus his time and energy on dressing hair rather than traveling from home to home around Savannah.

His story of woe, whether or not exaggerated for effect, was also a story of success, one that implicitly testified to his skill. Clients would not have been sending for him “three or four at once” if he had not competently aided them. He did not make appeals to gentility or fashion, as many other wigmakers and hairdressers did in their advertisements. That so many clients simultaneously demanded his services suggested that he more than adequately fulfilled those requirements. In effect, Roques created a narrative about his services that served as an eighteenth-century equivalent of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Prospective clients should hire him because so many of their peers already did.