What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Manufactured at the MANHEIM GLASS WORKS, in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania.”
The partnership of Brooks and Sharp injected patriotism into an advertisement for “AMERICAN GLASS WARE” they published in the Pennsylvania Journal for eight weeks in July and August 1770. When colonists boycotted imported goods of all sorts in response to duties levied on imported glass, paper, lead, paint, and tea by the Townshend Acts, American entrepreneurs set about producing “domestic manufactures” to provide an alternative. In their advertisements, they stressed the political benefits of acquiring goods made in the colonies, framing such consumption as patriotic duty. Brooks and Sharp provided an overview of that argument, stating that during “this crisis it is the indispensable duty, as well as interest of every well wisher of America, to promote and encourage manufactures amongst ourselves.” They were confident that consumers would do their part by purchasing products made at the Manheim Glass Works in Lancaster County, motivated by “the glorious spirit of patriotism at present voluntarily and virtuously existing here.”
Yet they realized that patriotism might not have been sufficient to convince some consumers to buy their wares, especially with the fate of the nonimportation agreement in doubt after the repeal of most of the Townshend duties a few months earlier. Brooks and Sharp needed to make their glassware as attractive to consumers as imported alternatives now that political justifications for purchasing American manufactures did not have the same urgency. To that end, they offered bargain prices, proclaiming that they sold their goods “on much lower terms, than such imported from Europe are usually sold.” They also made an appeal to quality, assuring prospective customers that their glassware was not inferior to items imported from England. The proprietors had engaged “some of the most ingenious artists in said manufacture, which is now arrived at great perfection.” Consumers as well as “retailers in Philadelphia” and “country storekeepers” could have it all when buying and selling glassware from the Manheim Glass Works: high quality, low prices, and the satisfaction of expressing a “glorious spirit of patriotism” in the marketplace.