December 21

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (December 21, 1770).

“He has removed from his SHOP … to the Shop lately improved by Mr. James M’Donough.”

George Craigie’s advertisement in the December 21, 1770, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette got cut short.  Craigie informed the public that he carried “a good Assortment Of English GOODS, Suitable for the Season,” but his advertisement ended with a note that the “Particulars of which will be inserted in our next.”  In other words, someone decided to truncate a longer version of the shopkeeper’s advertisement that would run in the next issue of the New-Hampshire Gazette.  It could have been Craigie himself if he had not had time to prepare a list of his merchandise.  More likely, either the compositor or the editor made the decision due to lack of space for the lengthy advertisement.  When it ran the following week, Craigie’s notice occupied more than half a column, listing everything from textiles to housewares to groceries to writing paper.

Although a catalog of his inventory was an important means of inciting interest among prospective customers, Craigie likely did not consider it as important as the portion of his advertisement that did appear in print on December 21.  The shopkeeper took the opportunity to inform the public “that he has removed from his SHOP near the Market House, on Spring Hill, Portsmouth, to the Shop lately improved by Mr. James M’Donough, in the Pav’d Street, leading from the State House to the Market.”  Craigie did not want to lose any customers because they were unaware of his new location.  The “Particulars” held until the next issue did not matter if shoppers had difficulty finding him following his move from a familiar location to one previously associated with someone else.  In addition, the promise of a more complete accounting of Craigie’s goods in the next issue may have prompted some anticipation and curiosity among readers, another benefit of a shorter advertisement that made his enterprise more visible compared to no advertisement at all in that issue.  By the time the more elaborate advertisement appeared, Craigie already encouraged interest in both his new location and his inventory.

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