March 27

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

Mar 27 - 3:27:1770 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

“I shall leave a List of the Subscribers Names, together with their Benefactions.”

In late March 1770 Stephen Hopkins, John Brown, and John Jenckes continued their efforts to raise funds and acquire materials to erect a building for Rhode Island College (now Brown University) in Providence.  On behalf of the “Committee for providing Materials and overseeing the Work,” they placed a notice in the Providence Gazette that thanked the “many Gentlemen [who] have been so generous to this very useful Institution, as to become Benefactors to it” while simultaneously calling on both current supporters and “those whose beneficient Minds may incline them to become such” to send updates about their intended donations.

Yet advocates for the college did not confine their fundraising efforts to the Providence Gazette alone.  Hezekian Smith inserted a similar notice in the March 27, 1770 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  He visited the colony to promote the college and the building it needed once its sponsors made a determination to move its location from Warren, Rhode Island, to Providence.  Smith extended his “humble and hearty Thanks to the Benefactors of RHODE-ISLAND COLLEGE, whom he has met since his first Arrival in this Province.”  He also announced that he planned to depart soon, prompting him to encourage “those Gentlemen who were so Kind as to promise to send their Benefactions for the College to him” to do so.

In a nota bene, Smith declared that he would leave behind a “List of the Subscribers Names, together with their Benefactions” that each supporter could consult in order to confirm “that his Donation goes towards making up the Sum I have collected since my Arrival here.”  Smith likely had an additional motive for drawing up such a list for “Subscribers” to consult.  As they perused the list to find their own names and “Benefactions” they would also see who else had donated and how much.  They could congratulate themselves on their civic responsibility and the company they kept, but also compare their donations to those made by others.  Benefactors could judge for themselves whether they appeared generous or miserly in comparison to others on the list.  Did an unexpectedly large donation enhance their status or an unaccountably small donation diminish it?

Today, colleges and nonprofit organizations regularly publish lists of benefactors, often classifying them according to how much they donated and organizing the lists to give preeminence to the most generous.  This is both an expression of appreciation and a challenge to current and prospective donors to secure their positions on subsequent lists of benefactors.  In his efforts to raise funds for Rhode Island College, Hezekiah Smith similarly extended an acknowledgment and a challenge to benefactors in South Carolina.  In promising to leave behind a list of donors and the sums they donated, he encouraged benefactors to increase their pledges.

Slavery Advertisements Published March 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.

Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 13
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 14
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

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Mar 27 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 15
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 27, 1770).

March 26

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

Mar 26 - 3:26:1770 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (March 26, 1770).

“A PRINT, containing a Representation of the late horrid Massacre in King-street.”

Only three weeks after the Boston Massacre colonial consumers could purchase engravings depicting the event.  On March 26, 1770, the first advertisements appeared in the Boston Evening-Post and the Boston-Gazette.  Both announced “A PRINT, containing a Representation of the late horrid Massacre in King-street” available for sale by Edes and Gill, the patriot printers of the Boston-Gazette.  Engraved by Paul Revere, this print has become the most iconic image of the Boston Massacre in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (though more colonists likely encountered woodcuts depicting the coffins of the victims that accompanied newspaper coverage of the event and the funeral procession than purchased or even glimpsed Revere’s Bloody Massacre in the eighteenth century).

Widely considered a piece of propaganda rather than an accurate depiction of the event that transpired on the evening of March 5, Revere’s engraving was the first to hit the consumer market in 1770.  Controversy at the time focused less on any liberties taken with the facts and more on Revere basing his work on an engraving by Henry Pelham and then issuing his own version so quickly that he edged out Pelham.  As the Massachusetts Historical Society explains, “Although Pelham created his image, The Fruits of Arbitrary Power first, somehow Revere, working from Pelham’s rendition of the scene, created, advertised, and issued his own version, The Bloody Massacre, ahead of Pelham’s.”  Although the advertisements in the Boston Evening-Post and the Boston-Gazette did not name Revere as the engraver, they certainly promoted sales of his depiction of the event.

Mar 26 - 3:26:1770 Boston Evening-Post
Boston Evening-Post (March 26, 1770).

Pelham considered this an injustice.  He wrote to Revere shortly after the advertisements first appeared.  “When I heard that you was cutting a plate of the late Murder,” Pelham lamented, “I thought it impossible as I knew you was not capable of doing it unless you coppied it from mine and I thought I had intrusted it in the hands of a person who had more regard to the dictates of Honour and Justice than to take the undue advantage you have done of the confidence and trust I reposed in you.”  For his part, Revere may have been more concerned with disseminating as quickly as possible an incriminating image of the 29th Regiment firing on colonists.  After all, just as printers liberally reprinted news, letters, and editorials from one newspaper to another, eighteenth-century engravers frequently copied images that came into their possession, though usually after they had been published.

Did Revere weigh the “dictates of Honour and Justice” against serving the patriot cause and determine that the latter mattered more?  To what extent did the sirens of fame and fortune play a role in his decision to copy Pelham’s engraving and make his own version the first available for public consumption?  Can these questions be separated, or must they each inform the other?  Like printers and booksellers who profited from publishing and selling political treatises and accounts of current events during the era of the American Revolution, Revere also reaped rewards for his engraving even as he educated the public and shaped popular opinion.

Slavery Advertisements Published March 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.

Mar 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (March 26, 1770).

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

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Mar 26 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 2
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

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Mar 26 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American. General Gazette (March 26, 1770).

March 25

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

Mar 25 - 3:23:1770 Massachusaetts Gazette Extraordinary
Massachusetts-Gazette Extraordinary (March 23, 1770).

“A second-hand Coach, a Variety of second-hand Chaises.”

Adino Paddock, a coachmaker, occasionally advertised in Boston’s newspapers in the late 1760s and early 1770s.  He took to the pages of the public prints to promote his business with an advertisement in an extraordinary issue of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter on March 23, 1770.  In it, he proclaimed that “the Coach-making Business in all its Branches is carried on as usual” at his shop “in Common-Street.”

Paddock also extended one of his “usual” appeals to potential customers, informing them that he offered for a sale “a second-hand Coach” and “a Variety of second-hand Chaises.”  He incorporated used carriages of all sorts into most of his marketing, presenting consumers a less expensive alternative to purchasing new coaches and chaises.  As many of his other advertisements made clear, he acquired secondhand carriages by accepting them as partial payment when customers placed orders.  Paddock deployed what would later become familiar marketing and financing strategies in the automobile industry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  He did so in the early modern era, more than a century before cars were mass produced and sold to consumers.  He anticipated some now-standard strategies for selling transportation to individual customers.

Paddock also made a “Buy American” appeal, though much less explicitly.  The elite who could afford carriages did not have to purchase coaches and chaises imported from England when they could instead acquire the same items made at his shop in Boston.  Furthermore, he sold ancillary goods, including “Worsted Reins,” made locally rather than imported.  Paddock did not name his supplier, but he assured prospective customers that the reins he sold were “made in Town.”  While he did little to underscore the point, it likely would have reverberated all the same considering how much attention residents of Boston and beyond devoted to the nonimportation agreements then in effect to protest duties on imported paper, glass, lead, paint, and tea.  Coverage extended across news items, editorials, and even advertisements.

Consisting solely of text without images, Paddock’s advertisement for carriages is not nowhere near as flashy as print advertisements for automobiles from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries nor, especially, modern television and internet advertisements.  Comparatively humble in appearance, Paddock’s advertisement did, however, pioneer some of the marketing techniques that later became standard practices in the automobile industry.

March 24

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

Mar 24 - 3:24:1770 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (March 24, 1770).

(23).”

A brief advertisement in the March 24, 1770, edition of the Providence Gazette announced, “GARDEN PEASE.  The very best Early Garden Pease to be sold at the GOLDEN EAGLE. (23).”  Consisting primarily of information for consumers, this advertisement also featured a notation intended solely for the printer, compositor, and others who labored in John Carter’s “PRINTING-OFFICE, the Sign of Shakespeare’s Head.”  The “(23)” at the far right of the final line corresponded to the issue number in which the advertisement first ran, “NUMB. 323” on March 17.  Other advertisements included similar notations to the far right on the final line.  Robert Nesbitt’s advertisement for a variety of textiles ended with “(22).”  James Lovett’s advertisement for bread and flour concluded with “(20).”  Another advertisement offering a “Likely, healthy, smart NEGROE BOY” for sale also featured “(20)” on the final line.  The issue numbers presumably aided with bookkeeping and alerted compositors when to remove advertisements that had appeared for a specified number of weeks.

Not all advertisements, however, included issue numbers, suggesting that the system was more complicated than simply signaling whether a notice should continue publication.  Carter’s own advertisement for printed blanks did not feature an issue number, but that was because the printer could insert notices promoting various aspects of his business at his own discretion.  In another notice that lacked an issue number, Stephen Hopkins, John Brown, and John Jenckes called on local “Gentlemen … to become Benefactors” of the college being built in the town.  Perhaps it did not carry an issue number because Carter was not concerned about when it commenced or how many times it appeared in the Providence Gazette.  Perhaps his contribution consisted of running the fundraising advertisement gratis in his newspaper for as long as the committee desired.  Other advertisements, including two for real estate and one about runaway indentured servants, also did not have issue numbers on the final line.  The advertisers may not have contracted for a certain number of weeks but instead determined for them to run until they achieved their purpose.

The issue numbers that appeared in some, but not all, advertisements in the Providence Gazette (and other eighteenth-century newspapers) hint at the day-to-day operations in colonial printing offices, but they raise as many questions as they answer.  They suggest that printers, compositors, and others followed a system for organizing and keeping track of advertisements, but they do not reveal all of the particulars.

Slavery Advertisements Published March 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.

Mar 24 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 1
Providence Gazette (March 24, 1770).

March 23

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

Mar 23 - 3:23:1770 Massachusaetts Gazette Extraordinary
Massachusetts-Gazette Extraordinary (March 23, 1770).

“Will be READ, The Beggar’s OPERA.”

An itinerant performer toured New England in the fall of 1769, placing newspaper advertisements to promote his performances in each town he visited before disappearing from view in the public prints for several months.  He first advertised in Providence Gazette on September 16, then in the Boston Chronicle and the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter on September 28, followed by the Essex Gazette on October 10, and, finally, the New-Hampshire Gazette on November 3.  Near the end of March 1770, he reappeared in Boston for a performance advertised in an extraordinary issue of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  The performer never gave his name in any of his newspaper notices, instead describing himself as “a Person who has Read and Sung in most of the great Towns in America.”

He updated his repertoire as he moved from town to town, though the Beggar’s Opera was one of his favorites to adapt into a one-man show.  He had previously performed it in Boston, so he may have expected to attract interest in an encore performance rather than present new material.  For those unaware of how one performer could stage the entire Beggar’s Opera, he explained that he “personates all the Charatcers, and enters into the different Humours, or Passions, as they change from one to another throughout the Opera.”  He enticed his prospective audience by promising to sing sixty-nine songs throughout the course of the evening.  This was a spectacle to be seen!

In addition to newspaper advertisements, the unnamed performer likely relied on others means of publicizing his shows.  He may have posted broadsides around town or distributed handbills, though such items were even more ephemeral than newspapers and thus less likely to survive for later generations to examine.  Consider that his advertisement for a performance on Friday, March 23 appeared in an extraordinary issue of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter published that very day.  Richard Draper did not usually distribute his newspaper on Fridays, but happened to publish a two-page supplement on March 23.  Without it, notice of the itinerant performer’s show that evening would not have been presented to prospective audiences in any of Boston’s several newspapers, suggesting that he made other arrangements to promote it in advance.  The newspaper notice instructed that “TICKETS for admissions [were] to be had at Green & Russell’s Printing Office, and at the Bunch of Grapes in King-Street.”  At the very least, he may have posted broadsides at those two busy hubs for exchanging information.

Slavery Advertisements Published March 23, 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.

Mar 23 1770 - Massachusaetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter Extraordinary Supplement 1
Massachusetts-Gazette Extraordinary [Draper] (March 23, 1770).

March 22, 1770

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

Mar 22 - 3:22:1770 Pennsylvania Journal
Pennsylvania Journal (March 22, 1770).

My customers are therefore requested to be upon their guard against such deceptions.”

Counterfeit hams!  In an advertisement that ran in the March 22, 1770, edition of the Pennsylvania Journal, Joseph Borden warned consumers against purchasing hams that unscrupulous retailers passed off as his product.  That warning comprised half of his advertisement.

Borden opened his notice by advising prospective customers that he supplied the “best Salt-peter’d HAMS, flitch BACON, or JOWELS.”  He did not give his location, only that he raised hogs outside of Philadelphia.  Francis Hopkinson in Front Street accepted orders on his behalf and then communicated them to Borden.  In turn, Borden delivered the hams, bacon, and jowls to customers “as soon as the distance will permit.”

Below his signature, Borden inserted a nota bene to advise consumers to beware of counterfeit hams.  “I have not this year, not any preceeding year,” he asserted, “sent Hams to Philadelphia to be stor’d and retail’d.  Whoever, therefore, offers any for sale as mine, would impose upon the public – my customers are therefore requested to be upon their guard against such deceptions.

Borden’s notice suggests two possibilities.  Others may have been trafficking in counterfeit hams, hoping to benefit from Borden’s reputation.  If that was the case, Borden sought to protect both his reputation and his share of the market by insisting that consumers accept no substitutes.  Alternately, neither Borden nor consumers had been victims of such trickery.  Instead, Borden may have invented the tale of hams being sold as his, intending to enhance his reputation and incite demand by suggesting that his hams were so widely recognized for their quality that his business became a casualty of counterfeiters.  Borden did not actually accuse any merchants and shopkeepers in Philadelphia of attaching his name to their hams, but he did present the scenario for consumers to contemplate.

Whether or not counterfeit hams were circulating in Philadelphia in the late 1760s and early 1770s, Borden apparently believed that consumers would consider such a scheme plausible.  After all, manufacturers of patent medicines sometimes warned against imitations in their advertisements.  Artisans occasionally did so as well.  Borden followed their lead in declaring that pork was also a product subject to counterfeiting.