February 29

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

Feb 29 - 2:26:1770 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (February 26, 1770)

“George Spriggs, Gardener to JOHN HANCOCK, Esq.”

As spring approached in 1770, the appropriately named George Spriggs took to the pages of the Boston-Gazette to advertise a “Large Assortment of English Fruit Trees” as well as “flowering Shrubs,” bushes, and other plants that he sold “at a reasonable price.”  Price and quality were not the only appeals that Spriggs incorporated into his advertisement.  He devised a headline to introduce himself to prospective customers as “Gardener to JOHN HANCOCK, Esq.”  In so doing, he attempted to leverage his relationship with an existing client to incite demand among other consumers.  Readers of the Boston-Gazette may not have known Spriggs, but they were certainly familiar with prominent merchant and patriot leader John Hancock.  The gardener hoped to capitalize on the cachet of being associated with such an eminent member of the community.  He invited prospective customers to imagine that they could possess something in common with Hancock, a marker of their own taste.

Spriggs deployed a strategy not often used in the late 1760s and early 1770s.  Doctors and artisans who recently arrived in the colonies sometimes listed notable patients or clients they previously served in Europe before migrating across the Atlantic.  Doing so helped newcomers establish their reputation, but advertisers rarely invoked the names of local customers.  They did make more general statements of appreciation to those who had previously employed them, simultaneously seeking to maintain their clientele while demonstrating to prospective new customers that others made purchases from them or hired their services.  Yet they did not tend to name specific clients.

Spriggs did not publish an endorsement nor a testimonial from Hancock, yet he did seek to benefit from his association with one of the most prominent men in Massachusetts.  Describing himself as “Gardener to JOHN HANCOCK, Esq.” suggested that the merchant was satisfied with his services, even if it fell short of an outright recommendation.  Spriggs pursued the eighteenth-century version of promoting his celebrity clientele as a means of attracting new customers for his business.

February 28

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

Feb 28 - 2:28:1770 Georgia Gazette

“A FEW NEGROES.”

James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, rarely issued a supplement to the standard four-page edition, but on February 28, 1770, he had sufficient content to merit distributing a smaller sheet that consisted entirely of advertising. Unlike supplements that accompanied most other colonial newspapers, this one did not bear a masthead.  Instead, a notation at the bottom of the page tied it to the standard issue.  The notation, “[No. 334.],” matched the issue number in the masthead of the February 28 edition.

Printed on both sides, the supplement included eighteen additional advertisements.  Those notices represented significant revenue for Johnston.  Like other eighteenth-century printers, he depended on advertising to make publishing a newspaper economically viable.  Subscription fees alone did not pay for the production and dissemination of the news.  That meant that Peter Gandy contributed to the process when he placed an advertisement about an “EVENING SCHOOL … for the benefit of those who can’t attend the day school.”  Yet it also meant that Patrick Houston did as well when he advertised “FEW NEGROES belonging to the estate of Martin Fenton.”  The warden of the workhouse did as well when advertising “TWO NEGRO FELLOWS, brought from the Creek nation, … A NEGROE FELLOW, who says his name is Boston, … [and] A NEW NEGRO FELLOW, can’t speak English so as to tell his master’s or his own name.”  Those were two of the many advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children that ran in the February 28 edition of the Georgia Gazetteand its supplement.

At the same time that Georgia’s only newspaper carried news about the imperial crisis that ultimately culminated in the American Revolution it also disseminated advertisements that offered enslaved people for sale or that encouraged colonists to engage in surveillance of Black bodies to recognize and recapture those who escaped from bondage. Depictions of liberty and slavery appeared side by side in the pages of colonial newspapers.  Advertisements, in their attempts to maintain the enslavement of Africans and African Americans, funded coverage of the purported abuses that colonists supposedly suffered at the hands of Parliament.  Early American advertising contributed to the paradox of liberty and slavery present at the founding of the new nation.

Slavery Advertisements Published February 28, 1770

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.

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

Feb 28 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (February 28, 1770).

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Feb 28 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (February 28, 1770).

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Feb 28 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (February 28, 1770).

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Feb 28 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (February 28, 1770).

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Feb 28 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (February 28, 1770).

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Feb 28 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (February 28, 1770).

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Feb 28 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (February 28, 1770).

February 27

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

Feb 27 - 2:27:1770 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

“HANNAH COLEMAN, … late apprentice to Mrs. Wish.”

Hannah Coleman made mantuas.  These loose gowns worn by women first came into popularity in the late seventeenth century.  In February 1770, Coleman placed an advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to “inform the LADIES in general” that she carried on the business of a “MANTUA-MAKER … in all its branches.”  She used a phrase commonly deployed by artisans to indicate that there was no part of her trade beyond her abilities.  Accordingly, she pledged that customers would have their garments made “in the neatest manner.”  To bolster that claim, Coleman relied on another strategy that often appeared in advertisements placed by artisans, though one usually invoked by men rather than women.  She listed her credentials when she named her occupation.  Rather than “HANNAH COLEMAN, MANTUA-MAKER,” she was “HANNAH COLEMAN, MANTUA-MAKER, late apprentice to Mrs. Wish, deceased.”  She assumed that prospective clients would be familiar with the reputation of the departed Mrs. Wish or at least feel reassured that Coleman had completed an apprenticeship.

Although Coleman adopted a strategy usually reserved for men, her efforts to market mantuas fashioned a world in which women participated in commercial transactions without reference to men.  She addressed “the LADIES in general.”  She established her connection to her mentor, Mrs. Wish.  She even listed her location in relation to another woman, stating that she did business “in Elliott-Street, opposite to Mrs. Peronneau’s” rather than naming male neighbors or using other landmarks.  In a nota bene, Coleman did note that she sought “two gentlemen to lodge and board,” but the portion of the advertisement about her activities as a mantua maker depicted a world of women who created their own networks, taught each other, and traded with each other.  Women in business tended to publish newspaper advertisements less often than their male counterparts in eighteenth-century America, perhaps because they relied on gendered networks as an alternate means of attracting customers.  They participated in the marketplace, but chose means of promoting their enterprises that yielded less visibility among the general public even while generating familiarity among female consumers.

Slavery Advertisements Published February 27, 1770

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.

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

Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

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Feb 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (February 27, 1770).

 

February 26

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

Feb 26 - 2:26:1770 New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

Advertisement to the Ladies.”

Like other auctioneers and vendue masters, Moore, Lynsen, and Company used newspaper advertisements to alert prospective bidders to upcoming sales.  In an advertisement that appeared in the February 26, 1770, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, they noted upcoming auctions of Irish linens, gloves, and sugar.  Moore, Lynsen, and Company also indicated that they handled a portion of the estate of “his late Excellency Sir HENRY MOORE, Baronet,” the royal governor of New York who had passed away the previous September.  Among the items for the Moore estate, the auctioneers advertised “Genuine old Madeira WINE of the first quality” and “A COACH, CARRIAGE, HORSES, AND SADDLERY.”  Those items were slated for sale the following day.

Rather than conducting a single estate sale, Moore, Lynsen, and Company scheduled a second auction, that one to be begin more than a week later on March 6 and “continue every morning” until everything was sold.  For that “great auction,” the vendue masters inserted a special “Advertisement to the Ladies.”  They called attention to the “great variety of the genteelest furniture, made by the first workmen,—all new, and in the best order” as well as “PLATE, CHINA, &c. &c.”  The double “&c.” (the eighteenth-century abbreviation for et cetera) promised a vast assortment of goods.  In addressing “the Ladies” in particular, Moore, Lynsen, and Company made a relatively rare appeal.  Editorials that appeared in other parts of eighteenth-century newspapers frequently accused women of becoming too enamored of the consumer revolution, asserting that female consumers surrendered to the vice of luxury.  Yet purveyors of goods and services rarely targeted women exclusively when they marketed the “genteelest” merchandise.  Eighteenth-century advertisements suggest that despite the rhetoric of gendered consumption that circulated widely, those who sold goods pursued customers of both sexes and anticipated that men were as likely as women to make purchases.  Moore, Lynsen, and Company were relatively unique in their assertion that “the Ladies” would be most interested in the “genteelest” wares that they put up for bid.

Slavery Advertisements Published February 26, 1770

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.

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

Feb 26 1770 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 6
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 7
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 8
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - Newport Mercury Slavery 2
Newport Mercury (February 26, 1770).

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Feb 26 1770 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (February 26, 1770).

February 25

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

Feb 25 - 2:22:1770 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (February 22, 1770).

“The Best accounts of fashions have been sent over by every packet.”

Thomas Charles Willett listed “A Great Variety” of garments, textiles, adornments, and accoutrements in the advertisement he placed in the New-York Journal in February 1770.  He stocked everything from “scarlet cloth cloaks” to “Striped Lutestrings” to “French pearl, garnet and jet necklaces and ear rings” to “Italian hair powder.”  He concluded his catalog of merchandise with “Bonnets and other fashionable goods.”  In his line of business, fashion mattered, especially his ability to convince prospective customers that he was familiar with the latest fashions and would offer appropriate guidance as they made their selections.

To that end, Willett made a special appeal at the conclusion of his advertisement.  He informed potential clients that “the best accounts of fashions have been sent over by every packet.”  In other words, the vessels that sailed from London and other English ports to New York delivered news of the latest fashions to Willett.  He may have maintained correspondence with friend and business associates in London, the cosmopolitan center of the empire, or received magazines with descriptions of the latest tastes.  Regardless of his source, Willett had his eye on the other side of the Atlantic … and he expected that prospective customers did as well.

This stood in stark contrast to the political ideology of the period that called for boycotting goods imported from England.  In protest of the duties leveled on imported paper, glass, lead, paint, and tea in the Townshend Acts, merchants, shopkeepers, and other signed nonimportation agreements.  They pledged not to do business with their counterparts in England until Parliament repealed the duties, just as the Stamp Act had been repealed.  That did not prevent Willett and other retailers from selling goods ordered or delivered before the nonimportation pact went into effect, not did it prevent consumers from looking to England when they wished to display their own gentility and cosmopolitanism.  Willett stocked a variety of textiles and adornments.  How were they to be transformed into garments and combined together to make a statement?  As the answer to that question changed, Willett offered assistance from “the best accounts of fashions” he continued to receive.  He imported information for his customers to consume even when they collectively declined to import or purchase goods.

February 24

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

Feb 24 - 2:24:1770 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (February 24, 1770).

“To be Sold at the GOLDEN EAGLE.”

An advertisement in the February 24, 1770, edition of the Providence Gazette advised readers of “CHOICE FRESH LEMMONS To be Sold at the GOLDEN EAGLE, in Providence.”  The advertiser realized that many prospective customers, especially those who resided in Providence, did not need additional information to locate the shop with the lemons.  Simply stating the name of the sign that adorned the location was sufficient to allow readers to make their way to the shop operated by Joseph Russell and William Russell.  In other advertisements they noted that their “Store and Shop, the Sign of the Golden Eagle” was “near the Court-House, Providence,” but they frequently listed their location solely as “the GOLDEN EAGLE.”

In so doing the Russells created a brand to represent their business.  The “Sign of the Golden Eagle” did more than merely mark a location in Providence.  The Golden Eagle was not fixed in place, tied to a specific building or street, but instead circulated as an idea, a depiction of the Russells, their “Store and Shop,” and the goods they sold to colonial consumers.  The proprietors considered it such a powerful symbol that they did not even deem it necessary to include their names in many of their advertisements.  “To be Sold at the GOLDEN EAGLE” communicated to prospective customers all that they needed to know, not only about the location of the goods but also the reputation of the purveyors of those goods.

The Russells were not alone in adopting a shop sign as a representation of their enterprise in eighteenth-century America, but they were on the leading edge when it came to completely substituting their sign for themselves.  In the late 1760s and early 1770s, few other advertisers so regularly ran notices that eliminated their names in favor of solely invoking the image that they had chosen to depict their business.

Slavery Advertisements Published February 24, 1770

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.

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

Feb 24 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 1
Providence Gazette (February 24, 1770).