Slavery Advertisements Published April 25, 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.

Apr 25 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (April 25, 1770).

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Apr 25 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (April 25, 1770).

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Apr 25 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (April 25, 1770).

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Apr 25 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (April 25, 1770).

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Apr 25 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (April 25, 1770).

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Apr 25 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (April 25, 1770).

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Apr 25 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (April 25, 1770).

 

April 24

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

Apr 24 - 4:24:1770 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

“A Printed Catalogue will be timely delivered.”

In advance of an auction of a “A Collection of BOOKS,” Nicholas Langford placed an advertisement in the April 24, 1770, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  He provided a preview of some of the items for sale, including “Johnson’s Dictionary” in two volumes and thirty-two volumes of the London Magazinefrom the Beginning.”  Langford could have inserted a more extensive account of the “Collection of “BOOKS.”  Instead, he declared that “A Printed Catalogue will be timely delivered.”  He used his newspaper advertisement to promote another form of marketing ephemera that prospective customers could consult and find useful prior to and during the auction.

Indeed, book catalogs and auction catalogs (and catalogs for book auctions) were ephemeral.  Little or no evidence exists concerning the production and distribution of many catalogs except for mentions of them in newspaper advertisements.  Some may never have existed except in those advertisements; bibliographers and historians of print culture suspect that advertisers like Langford sometimes promised catalogs that never went to press.  While some catalogs mentioned in newspaper notices may very well have turned out to be bibliographic ghosts, enough eighteenth-century catalogs have survived to demonstrate that medium did circulate in early America.

It would not have served Langford well to allude to a catalog that would not be “timely delivered” or even delivered at all.  As an entrepreneur seeking to attract as many bidders to his auction as possible, it served his interests to distribute the catalog.  In addition, it would have damaged his reputation if prospective buyers sent for a catalog and he had to confess that he had not managed to follow through on the intention that he had announced to the public in a newspaper advertisement.  Even if something prevented Langford or others from publishing some of the catalogs mentioned in newspaper advertisements, that they were referenced at all suggests that they were a form of marketing media that colonists expected to encounter.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 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.

Apr 24 1770 - Essex Gazette Slavery 1
Essex Gazette (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 24, 1770).

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Apr 24 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 24, 1770).

April 23

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

Apr 23 - 4:23:1770 Boston Evening-Post
Supplement to the Boston Evening-Post (April 23, 1770).

“CHOCOLATE warranted good.”

T. and J. Fleet, printers of the Boston Evening-Post, had far more content to publish than usual when they prepared the April 23, 1770, edition.  Issued once a week, their newspaper, like most others in colonial America, typically consisted of four pages created by printed two pages on each side of a broadsheet and folding it in half.  When printers had sufficient surplus content, they often distributed supplements, sometimes an additional four pages but more commonly two pages that required only half a broadsheet.  The Fleets certainly had sufficient surplus content to justify publishing a supplement.  Indeed, two supplements accompanied the April 23 edition of the Boston Evening-Post.

The first contained “Fresh Advices” that had “ARRIVED here last Week from LONDON.”  The captains of several vessels had delivered “the Public Prints” through February 24.  The Fleets extracted several items to republish from London’s newspapers.  This supplement consisted of only two pages printed on a broadsheet the same size as the standard issue of the Boston Evening-Post.  The second supplement, however, consisted of four pages printed on a smaller sheet. The first three pages delivered “Mr. Kent’s Vindications of his Character, from the Aspersions of Dr. Gardiner and others, in several late News-Papers.”  Given the size of the page, these “Vindications” appeared in two columns of a different width than the three columns per page from the standard issue.

Publishing the “Vindications” required only three pages.  The Fleets filled the remaining space with advertisements that ran in the Boston Evening-Post in previous weeks.  Rather than reset the type to achieve a consistent column width throughout the supplement they instead conserved time and effort through an unusual format for the page.  Two columns of advertisements filled most of the space.  For the remainder, they rotated advertisements to fit them into the space remaining on the right side of the page, creating a third column with text that ran in a different direction.

The Fleets did not improvise this strategy.  Colonial printers resorted to it on those occasions that they issued supplements of different sizes or when they could not acquire broadsheets of the usual size for their standard issues.  Doing so maximized the amount of content they could deliver while generating advertising revenues important to the continued publication of their newspapers.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 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.

Apr 23 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 2
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (April 23, 1770).

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Apr 23 1770 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (April 23, 1770).

April 22

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

Apr 22 - 4:19:1770 South-Carolina Gazette
South-Carolina Gazette (April 19, 1770).

“FENCING, WITH BROAD AND SMALL SWORDS.”

When fencing master P. Wallace arrived in Charleston, he placed an advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette to inform prospective pupils that he offered lessons with “BROAD and SMALL SWORDS.”  Having just arrived from Philadelphia, he acknowledged that he was “a Stranger” in the colony, but he hoped that would not dissuade potential students from availing themselves of his services.  To that end, he asserted that “his Knowledge … will be sufficient to recommend him, and that he shall be able to give Satisfaction to those who may please to employ him.”  Whatever reputation he had earned in Philadelphia did not transfer to Charleston, so he relied on “Merit” to “find Encouragement” among prospective pupils.

In addition to addressing students, Wallace’s advertisement also served as an introduction to the entire community, especially those already proficient in fencing.  To demonstrate his “Knowledge in that noble Science.”  Wallace issued a challenge to “any Gentleman who professes being skilled in the Art of Defence,” proclaiming that “would be glad to have an Opportunity to be proved” by them.  The newcomer sought to orchestrate a spectacle that would not only entertain his new neighbors but also establish his reputation and create word-of-mouth endorsements of his skill, provided that he performed well when others accepted his challenge.

This strategy also had the advantage of securing introductions to men of status who had already cultivated their own skills in “that noble Science” of fencing and would likely know others who wished to learn.  To accept his challenge, “Gentlem[e]n who profess being skilled in the Art of Defence” had to seek out Wallace.  The fencing master likely anticipated that they would bring friends and acquaintances, some of them prospective pupils, to any demonstrations.  Following those demonstrations, both challengers and observers could sign up for lessons as well as recommend Wallace to others in the market for instruction with the sword.

Wallace exuded confidence in his advertisement.  To some, he might even have appeared overconfident or arrogant, but that very well could have been calculated to convince others to accept his challenge.  Creating a spectacle had the potential to generate additional opportunities for the newcomer.

April 21

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

Apr 21 - 4:21:1770 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (April 21, 1770).

“Genteel Entertainment for Man and Horse.”

As Thomas Allen prepared to open the “London COFFEE-HOUSE” near the courthouse in New London, Connecticut, at the end of April 1770, he placed an advertisement in the New-London Gazette to inform “Gentlemen Travellers, and others.”  The new establishment offered “genteel Entertainment for Man and Horse.”  For those interested in conducting business at the coffeehouse, Allen promoted the “large and commodious Wharff for Navigation” that adjoined it as well as “Stores, Stables, Yards, &c. for the Reception of Horses and Stock.”  The proprietor did not depict the new coffeehouse merely as a place of leisure.  Most of the amenities he highlighted contributed to mercantile pursuits.

Allen did not confine his advertising to the New-London Gazette.  He also inserted an advertisement in the April 21 edition of the Providence Gazette.  Featuring nearly identical copy, it also invited “Gentlemen Travellers, and others” to visit and do business at the new coffeehouse.  Allen believed that local custom alone would not support the new establishment.  He needed to incite interest and awareness among prospective customers who would be passing through New London.  The new coffeehouse and its infrastructure for conducting business had the capacity to convince others to add New London to the itinerary.

Apparently, Allen considered Rhode Island the best place to cultivate customers among “Gentlemen Travellers,” at least initially.  In addition to the Providence Gazette, he also placed his advertisement in the April 23 edition of the Newport Mercury.  He did not, however, insert a notice in any of the several newspapers published in Boston or New York at the time.  The additional expense may have prevented wider advertising, though Allen may have considered his reasonable approach sufficient for disseminating word about his new coffeehouse and its amenities.  He likely anticipated that some of his clients would continue their journeys to Boston or New York, spreading news of his establishment to their friends and associates without Allen needing to place additional advertisements.

April 20

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

Apr 20 - 4:20:1770 New-London Gazette
New-London Gazette (April 20, 1770).

“He makes and sells all Kinds of FELT HATS.”

In the late 1760s and early 1770s the New-London Gazette carried fewer advertisements than most other newspapers printed in the colonies, in large part due to being published in a smaller town than most of its counterparts.  Those advertisements that did appear in the New-London Gazette, however, tended to replicate the marketing strategies deployed in advertisements published in other newspapers.  T.H. Breen asserts that colonists experienced a standardization of consumer goods available for purchase from New England to Georgia.[1]  They also encountered a standardization in advertising practices when they read the notices in colonial newspaper.

Consider an advertisement that Abiezer Smith, “HATTER, at NORWICH-LANDING,” placed in the April 20, 1770, edition of the New-London Gazette.  He informed prospective customers that he had “served a regular Apprenticeship to the FELT MANUFACTURE.”  Artisans frequently listed their credentials, especially upon arriving in town from elsewhere or opening a new business.  Since they did not benefit from cultivating a reputation among local consumers over time, they adopted other means of signaling that they were qualified to follow the trade they advertised.  In addition to consumers, Smith addressed retailers, the “Merchants and Shopkeepers in the Country” that he hoped would stock his hats.

Smith also made an appeal to quality and connected it to contemporary political discourse, just as advertisers in Boston and New York were doing during at the time.  The hatter at Norwich Landing proclaimed that his hats were “equal in goodness to any manufactured in this Country.”  Yet that assurance of quality was not sufficient.  He also declared his wares were preferable to any imported from Europe or elsewhere.”  Although the duties on most imported goods had been repealed, news had not yet arrived in the colonies.  For the moment, Smith stood to benefit from nonimportation agreements that prompted consumers to purchase “domestic manufactures” instead, provided that he made prospective customers aware of his product.  For retailers, he offered a new source of merchandise.  Even though his appeal would have less political resonance in the coming months, the quality remained consistent.  Many colonial consumers tended to prefer imported goods, but Smith offered an alternative that did not ask them to sacrifice the value for their money.

Smith’s advertisement could have appeared in any other newspaper in the colonies.  Indeed, given the scarcity of advertising in the New-London Gazette, he very well may have consulted (or at least had in mind) newspapers from other towns and cities when he wrote the copy for his advertisement.  His appeals that invoked his training, the quality of his wares, and the political significance of purchasing his hats made his advertisement resemble others placed by American artisans in the late 1760s and early 1770s.

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[1] T.H. Breen, “‘Baubles of Britain’: The American and Consumer Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century,” Past and Present 119 (1988): 81-84

Slavery Advertisements Published April 20, 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.

Apr 20 1770 - New-Hampshire Gazette Slavery 1
New-Hampshire Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - New-Hampshire Gazette Slavery 2
New-Hampshire Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

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Apr 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 20, 1770).

April 19

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

Apr 19 - 4:19:1770 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (April 19, 1770).

“TO BE SOLD … the Sign, Counters, Shelves and Drawers, and all the Shop Utensils.”

For a while, Mrs. Willett kept the shop formerly operated by her deceased husband, Thomas Charles, open.  An advertisement that listed an extensive assortment of merchandise ran in the February 22, 1770, edition of the New-York Journal.  It also included a note that “The business is carried on as usual,” implicitly acknowledging the death of Willett’s husband.  Two months later, however, Willett closed down the entire enterprise and prepared to sail for Europe.  She placed another advertisement in the New-York Journal in April, that one calling on “All Persons who have any Demands on the said Thomas C. Willett” to present them for payment and “those few Customers” who had not yet settled accounts to do so before she departed.  She also warned that anyone who left “Rings, Buttons, Linen,” or other goods as collateral would forfeit them if they did not pay their debts.

In addition to settling accounts, Willett also announced an eighteenth-century version of a going out of business sale.  She aimed to get rid of everything.  In addition to selling her personal belongings, she also sold the remaining inventory of the shop “at first COST.”  Consumers might have found bargains, but Willett likely hoped to attract a buyer with an entrepreneurial spirit who also wished to acquire “the Sign, Counters, Shelves and Drawers, and all the Shop Utensils” necessary to set up business.  In the absence of many contemporary visual images of the interiors of shops in eighteenth-century America, Willett’s list conjures scenes of consumption.

It also reveals that visual images associated with particular merchants and shopkeepers could be transferred from one to another.  Willett did not invoke the name of the shop sign in either advertisement she placed in the New-York Journal, but she did consider it important enough to include (and list first) among the various equipment associated with the business.  In the April 19 edition, her advertisement appeared on the same page as one of Gerardus Duyckinck’s notices featuring an elaborate woodcut that incorporated a depiction of his “Sign of the Looking Glass & Druggist Pot.”  Over the course of several years, the Looking Glass and Druggist Pot most certainly became associated with Duyckinck’s business among residents of New York.  It served as a logo of sorts that made for easy identification of his business.  Even without a similar constant reiteration in the public prints, the sign marking the Willett shop most likely became similarly recognizable to colonists who traversed the streets of the busy port.  Willett did not name the sign associated with her shop, but she considered it a valuable enough marketing tool to include among the fixtures available for purchase.  The image would no longer be affiliated with the Willett family; instead, it would come to represent another enterprise in New York’s marketplace.