November 25

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

South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

“He already makes what is called QUEEN’S WARE, equal to any imported.”

When Parliament imposed duties on certain goods imported into the American colonies in the late 1760s, colonists responded by adopting nonimportation agreements.  They reasoned that they could practice politics via commerce, refusing to purchase all sorts of goods from Britain until Parliament repealed the duties on paper, glass, lead, paint, and tea.  Concurrently, colonists sought to address a trade imbalance and strengthen local economies by encouraging the production and consumption of goods made in the colonies.  They set about encouraging “domestic manufactures.”  Newspaper editorials called on entrepreneurs to produce goods.  Newspaper advertisements called on consumers to purchase those goods and, especially, to select them over imported alternatives.

It was in that context that John Bartlam “opened his POTTERY and CHINA MANUFACTORY” in Charleston in 1770.  There he made and sold “what is called QUEEN’S WARE,” describing it as “equal to any imported.”  Consumers did not have to sacrifice quality when they expressed their political principles in the marketplace.  Bartlam was ambitious.  He proposed that he could “supply the Demands of the whole Province” if given the opportunity by consumers in South Carolina.  That required that consumers recognize their duty to give “suitable Encouragement” to entrepreneurs who produced “domestic manufactures.”  Bartlam offered another means for colonists to support both his enterprise and, by extension the American cause.  He requested that “Gentlemen in the Country, or others” send him “Samples of fine Clay upon their Plantations” so he could identify sources for the materials he needed to expand production.  Production and consumption, Bartlam suggested, were not the only means of encouraging “domestic manufactures.”

In addition to providing an alternative to imported goods, Bartlam’s business also provided training and employment for colonists.  In his advertisement he announced that he needed five or six apprentices.  He also had openings for “Good WORKMEN, in any of the different Branches” associated with producing pottery and china.

Bartlam did not explicitly invoke the Townshend Acts or nonimportation agreements in his advertisement that ran in the November 22, 1770, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette, but that was hardly necessary.  News items elsewhere in the issue discussed the “General Resolutions” adopted by inhabitants of the colony.  Other advertisements condemned “NON-SUBSCRIBERS” who refused to abide by the nonimportation agreements.  Bartlam did not need to rehearse the history of the dispute between colonists and Parliament.  Readers, both prospective customers and potential suppliers of materials, already understood the politics embedded in Bartlam’s advertisement.

November 24

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

Providence Gazette (November 24, 1770).

Many other articles not enumerated.”

Consumer choice was a key element of Nicholas Tillinghast and William Holroyd’s advertisement in the November 24, 1770, edition of the Providence Gazette.  The partners informed the public that they stocked “a Variety of Articles, both of wet and dry Goods,” at their new shop at the Sign of the Elephant.  To help prospective buyers imagine the choices available to them, Tillinghast and Holroyd provided a list of some of their many wares, naming everything from “WOOLLEN and linen cloths” to “best French brandy.”  They placed special emphasis on “an assortment of stationary ware,” cataloging “writing paper by the ream, account books of different sizes, ink cake, red and black ink powder, wafer, quills and pens ready made, ink stands, sand boxes, pounce boxes, [and] pencils.”  In addition to all of those accessories, Tillinghast and Holroyd carried “many other articles not enumerated.”  While the list helped prospective customers imagine some of the wares available at the Sign of the Elephant, promising even more items than would fit in the advertisement challenged them to consider what else they might encounter when visiting the shop.

Purveyors of goods often deployed these marketing strategies in newspaper advertisements in the second half of the eighteenth century.  Elsewhere in the same issue of the Providence Gazette, Clark and Nightingale promoted a “COMPLEAT Assortment of ENGLISH and INDIA GOODS” at their store at the Sign of the Fish and Frying Pan.  Other advertisers provided lists of merchandise, though all of them were short in comparison to what appeared in newspapers published in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.  Still, merchants and shopkeepers in Providence attempted to entice prospective customers by presenting them many choices intended to incite demand.  Many advertisers throughout the colonies concluded their lists with one or more “&c.” (the abbreviation for et cetera commonly used in the eighteenth century) to indicate that consumers would discover many other goods when visiting their shops.  Tillinghast and Holroyd deployed a variation, “many other articles not enumerated,” that delivered the same message.  Along with price and quality, consumer choice was among the most common marketing strategies in eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements.  Merchants and shopkeepers invited consumers to be make a pastime of shopping by considering the many choices available and contemplating the power they possessed in making selections for themselves.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 24, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Evan Reichenthal

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 about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – 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 purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. 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 enslavers rather than enslaved people 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.

Nov 24 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 1
Providence Gazette (November 24, 1770).

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Nov 24 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 2
Providence Gazette (November 24, 1770).

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Nov 24 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 3
Providence Gazette (November 24, 1770).

November 23

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (November 23, 1770).

“Any Gentleman Practitioner may be served … by Letter as well as if present.”

Joseph Tilton advertised a “compleat and general Assortment of the best Drugs and Medicines” in the November 23, 1770, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette.  Now available at his shop in Exeter, these nostrums had recently been imported from London.  Tilton listed a variety of popular patent medicines, including Stoughton’s Elixir, Lockyer’s Pills, and Walker’s Jesuit Drops, as well as grocery items often incorporated into homemade remedies.  For instance, he stocked cloves, mace, nutmeg, and ginger.  He supplemented these wares with medical equipment, including lancets and “Surgeons Needles,” and other merchandise, not unlike modern retail pharmacies that carry over-the-counter medications, home health care supplies, and food and convenience items.  For some of his merchandise, Tilton offered bargains, stating that he sold them “cheaper than can be bought in this Government.”  In other words, consumers would not find better deals anywhere in the colony.

To expand his clientele, Tilton did not require customers to visit his shop in Exeter.  In a nota bene, he advised that “Any Gentleman Practitioner, may be served with Dispatch, and their Medicines well secured, by Letter as well as if present.”  Tilton provided mail order service to physicians who desired it, an accommodation apparently worth the effort if it enticed them to choose him to supply their medicines and equipment.  He promised that such orders would not languish in his shop; instead, he would fill them and send them as quickly as possible.  Visiting Tilton’s shop in person would not achieve faster service, nor would it result in better packaging for transporting medicines.  Prospective customers did not need to worry that they would not be able to oversee how the bottles, boxes, and packets were bundled.  Tilton pledged they would be “well secured” and arrive intact.

Tilton incorporated convenience into his business model.  He advertised an array of merchandise, from patent medicines to medical supplies to groceries, for consumers to acquire at one location.  He also provided mail order service as an alternative to shopping in person.  Eighteenth-century advertisements have sometimes been depicted as mere lists of goods, little more than announcements.  Many, however, contained marketing efforts intended to convince consumers to make purchases and choose the advertiser over competitors.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 23, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Evan Reichenthal

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 about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – 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 purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. 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 enslavers rather than enslaved people 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.

Nov 23 1770 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (November 23, 1770).

November 22

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

Pennsylvania Journal (November 22, 1770).

“LIBERTY.”

“To be sold … A Healthy active young NEGRO MAN.”

Liberty and enslavement were intertwined in the 1770s, a paradox that defines the founding of the United States as an independent nation.  As white colonists advocated for their own liberty and protested their figurative enslavement by king and Parliament, they continued to enslave Africans and African Americans.  Even those who did not purport to be masters of Black men and women participated in maintaining an infrastructure of exploitation.  The juxtaposition of liberty and enslavement regularly found expression in the pages of newspapers during the era of the American Revolution as news items and editorial letters rehearsed arguments made by patriots and advertisements encouraged consumers to factor political considerations into the choices they made in the marketplace while other news items documented fears of revolts by enslaved people and other advertisements offered Black men, women, and children for sale or announced rewards for capturing enslaved people who liberated themselves by running away from those who held them in bondage.

Such contradictory items always appeared within close proximity to one another, especially considering that newspapers of the era usually consisted of only four pages.  In some instances, the juxtaposition should have been nearly impossible for readers to miss.  Consider two advertisements that ran in the November 22, 1770, edition of the Pennsylvania Journal.  William Bradford and Thomas Bradford, the printers of the newspaper, inserted a short notice about “LIBERTY.  A POEM” available for sale at their printing office.  Immediately below that notice appeared John Bayard’s advertisement offering a “Healthy active young NEGRO MAN” and an enslaved woman for sale.  The word “LIBERTY” in the Bradfords’ very brief notice appeared in all capitals and such a large font that it could have served as a headline for the next advertisement, an exceptionally cruel and inaccurate headline.  Both advertisements represented revenues for the Bradfords, the first potential revenues of potential sales and the second actual revenues paid by Bayard to insert the advertisement.

Examining either advertisement in isolation results in a truncated history of the era of the era of the American Revolution.  The advertisement for “LIBERTY.  A POEM” must be considered in relation to the advertisement for a “Healthy young NEGRO MAN” and woman to tell a more complete story of the nation’s past, even when some critics charge that the inclusion of the latter is revisionist and ideologically motivated.  It is neither.  Instead, it is a responsible and accurate rendering of the past.  The Bradfords positioned these advertisements together on the page 250 years ago.  We cannot separate them today.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 22, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Evan Reichenthal

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 about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – 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 purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. 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 enslavers rather than enslaved people 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.

Nov 22 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 1
Maryland Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 2
Maryland Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 3
Maryland Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 2
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 3
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 4
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 5
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 6
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 7
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

Welcome, Guest Curator Evan Reichenthal

Evan Reichenthal is a senior at Assumption University in Worcerster, Massachusetts. He is majoring in History with minors in Political Science and Law, Ethics, and Constitutional Studies. His home town is Princeton, Massachusetts. Before college, he served as an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps, fighting in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was subsequently wounded conducting combat operations against the Taliban in the Helmand Province. Evan received a Purple Heart for his actions. Evan is a lifelong student of history, one of his passions. He conducted the research for his current contributions as guest curator for the Slavery Adverts 250 Project when he was enrolled in HIS 400 – Research Methods: Vast Early America in Spring 2020.

Welcome, guest curator Evan Reichenthal.

November 21

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

“SCONCES.”

The partnership of Abeel and Byvanck regularly advertised in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury in 1770.  While it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, the fact that they repeatedly placed new advertisements advising consumers about the merchandise they offered for sale suggests that they considered advertising a good investment.  Like other merchants and shopkeepers, they often listed items currently in stock, though sometimes they instead merely emphasized that shoppers had many choices among a “general Assortment” or “very large ASSORTMENT.”

Most purveyors of consumer goods tended to place a single advertisement to promote all of them.  Such advertisements often attracted attention due to the amount of space they occupied on the page.  Abeel and Byvanck, on the other hand, experimented with placing multiple advertisements in a single issue.  Rather than the length of their notices drawing the eye, instead it was the repetition intended to attract attention.  Abeel and Byvank’s enterprise became more memorable as a result of repeatedly encountering their advertisements.

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

Readers of the November 19, 1770, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury spotted advertisements placed by Abeel and Byvank on the first and last pages.  An advertisement for ironmongery ran on the first page followed by another for looking glasses on the final page.  In addition to placing multiple advertisements, the partners also relied on headlines in oversized fonts drawing the eyes of prospective customers.  The word “SCONCES” in the notice about looking glasses appeared in a font larger than any other on the page.  Similarly, the word “NAILS” used a font that dwarfed any other on the first page except for the title of the newspaper in the masthead.  In each instance, the large font helped to create white space that further distinguished Abeel and Byvanck’s advertisements from news items and other advertisements on pages that consisted of dense paragraphs of text.

Viewed through twenty-first-century eyes, Abeel and Byvanck’s advertisements do not appear particularly sophisticated.  Considered in the context of eighteenth-century advertising practices, however, their notices possessed elements that made them notable.  Placing multiple advertisements in a single issue helped to establish name recognition, enhancing their reputation as purveyors of goods through repetition.  Savvy choices about font size increased the likelihood that readers would spot their advertisements and take note that Abeel and Byvanck actively participated in the marketplace, especially as it was represented on the printed page.

November 20

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

South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

“DOUBLE BEER, fine ALE, TABLE and SMALL BEER.”

Robert Wells, the printer of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette, had too much news and advertising to include all of it in a standard four-page issue on November 20, 1770.  Like other printers who found themselves in that position, he distributed a supplement with the surplus content.  Both news and advertising appeared in the standard issue, but the supplement consisted entirely of advertisements.

Taking into account the number of advertisements that did not make it into the standard issue, Wells used a smaller sheet for the supplement.  That decision led to an unusual format for the supplement.  Each page of the standard issue featured four columns, but each page of the supplement had only three columns.  Two of those ran from top to bottom of the page, as usual, but Wells printed the final column perpendicular to the others.

Why such an awkward format?  It saved time while also maximizing the amount of content Wells could squeeze onto the page.  Most of the advertisements ran in previous issues.  The type had already been set.  Wells wished to use it again rather than investing time in resetting type to fit a page of a different size.  The smaller sheet allowed him to insert two columns of the usual width.  With the remaining space, he rotated the advertisements and formed columns that ran perpendicular to the others.  Wells managed to fit three of these perpendicular columns, but that left a small space at the bottom of the page.

Rather than waste that remaining space by leaving it blank, Wells finally opted to set type for a narrower column.  On one side of the page this permitted him to include two more short advertisements, one for beer and ale and the other for candles.  On the other side he inserted a notice from the Charleston Library Society calling on members to return books.  Engaging with these advertisements required active reading and further manipulation of the page by subscribers.

Wells was simultaneously ingenious and frugal in designing the format for the advertising supplement that accompanied the November 20 edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette.  His competitor, Charles Crouch, found himself in a similar position when it came to supplements for the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, choosing to eliminate white space between columns in order to make the content fit the page without having to reset the type.  Publishing advertisements generated important revenues for newspaper printers, but they were not so lucrative to prevent printers from carefully managing the additional expenses of producing advertising supplements.