What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“BLANK QUIRE BOOKS … for the Benefit of Merchants and Shopkeepers.”
Charles Crouch, the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, frequently distributed advertisements for his own goods and services throughout the newspaper. Readers regularly encountered those notices as they perused the others. The June 26, 1770, edition, for instance, featured four advertisements promoting Crouch’s business. At least one appeared on every page that included advertising. Two were short notices, one advising readers that Crouch sold blanks (printed forms) and writing paper and the other announcing “A new CATECHISM for CHILDREN” for sale “by the Printer hereof.” A lengthier advertisement called on “all Persons indebted to him” to settle accounts or risk facing legal action. In it, Crouch also noted that he “has plenty of Hands, and will undertake any Kind of Printing-Work.”
The printer aimed all or part of each of those advertisements to all readers. His other advertisement, however, offered products of particular interest to merchants and shopkeepers. For their recordkeeping needs, he provided “BLANK QUIRE BOOKS, ruled and unruled” as well as “Blank Receipt Books.” In addition, he also sold “an Abstract of An Act for regulating and ascertaining the Rates of Wharfage of Ships and Merchandize, and also for ascertaining the Rates of Storage in Charles-Town, passed the Twelfth Day of April, 1768.” Published “for the Benefit of Merchants and Shopkeepers,” such reference material would aid them in making decisions related to their businesses. Crouch likely wished to bundle the blank books and the “Abstract of An Act,” increasing sales by selling them together. Introducing the idea in the newspaper advertisement set the stage for making the suggestion when customers visited his printing office. Those who already contemplated purchasing both yet remained undecided when they arrived at the printing office might have been more susceptible to a recommendation offered at the point of sale. Given how Crouch sprinkled short advertisements for his own goods and services throughout the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, he could have created two shorter advertisements, one about blank books for recordkeeping and the other about the “Abstract of An Act.” Instead, he chose to advertise them together, associating each with the other in the minds of prospective customers.