June 21

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (June 21, 1771).

For other new Advertisements, see Supplement.”

Most colonial newspapers consisted of four pages published once a week, though a few printers experimented with publishing multiple issues each week or regularly providing an additional half sheet that expanded an issue to six pages.  Even printers who did not regularly supply additional pages sometimes found themselves in the position of doing so, calling them supplements, postscripts, continuations, additions, and extraordinaries.  Those various sorts of supplements sometimes contained news, sometimes advertising, and sometimes both.  They usually accompanied the standard issue, but sometimes appeared in the middle of the week, especially when printers received word of events that merited immediate coverage.  The repeal of the Stamp Act, for instance, occasioned midweek supplements in several cities and towns.  Most often, however, supplements did not carry such momentous news.  Instead, advertising dominated.

Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette, were among those who rarely distributed supplements.  By varying the font sizes for both news and advertising, they usually managed to fit all of their content within the four pages of their weekly standard issue.  That was not the case, however, for the June 21, 1771, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette.  Immediately below Mendum Janvrin’s advertisement for rum, sugar, and other commodities, the Fowles inserted a short note that instructed, “For other new Advertisements, see Supplement.”  That note appeared two-thirds of the way down the final column on the third page, some of the last type set for that issue since printers typically prepared the first and fourth pages, printed on the same side of a broadsheet, and then the second and third, printed on the other.  By the time the Fowles got nearly to the end of that last column, they knew that they did not have space for all of the paid notices intended for the June 21 edition.  Presumably, the supplement accompanied the standard issue for the convenience of subscribers and other readers.

No supplement for the June 21 edition has been digitized and included in America’s Historical Newspapers.  The Fowles may have been more ambitious in planning for a supplement than time and other resources allowed.  They might not have printed the supplement at all.  In this case, however, it appears that they instead delayed publication of the supplement by a week, dating it June 28, and distributed it with the standard edition for June 28.  The Fowles used only the amount of paper necessary, printing solely paid notices that generated revenue and eschewing any additional news items.  They selected a smaller sheet, one that accommodated only two columns per page instead of the usual three.  In making those choices, they fulfilled their commitments to their advertisers, but minimized their own expenses for publishing the supplement.  Some advertisers had to wait a week for their notices to appear in print because the savvy printers avoided driving up the costs of producing the additional sheet.

Supplement to the New-Hampshire Gazette (June 28, 1771).

Slavery Advertisements Published June 21, 1771

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.

Connecticut Journal (June 21, 1771).

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New-London Gazette (June 21, 1771).

June 20

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (June 20, 1771).

“At his Shop near LIBERTY-TREE, A General Assortment of English Goods.”

A certain tension existed in the opening lines of John Greenlaw’s advertisement in the June 20, 1771, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  “JUST Imported in the last Ships from LONDON,” the shopkeeper proclaimed, “And to be Sold by John Greenlaw, At his Shop near LIBERTY-TREE, A General Assortment of English Goods.”  Greenlaw used the Liberty Tree as a landmark to direct prospective customers to the location where he sold merchandise that twice in the past six years had been the subject of nonimportation agreements, first in response to the Stamp Act and later to protest duties on certain imported goods imposed by the Townshend Acts.  The Liberty Tree served as an enduring reminder of colonists defending their rights against abuses perpetrated by Parliament, while the “General Assortment of English Goods” testified to the extent that consumers valued their ties to British commerce and culture.

While the most recent nonimportation agreement remained in effect, advertisers in Boston frequently promoted goods produced in the colonies or underscored that they acquired their inventory prior to a particular date.  In so doing, they associated politics with buying and selling goods, giving their merchandise and their role as purveyors of goods additional layers of meaning for readers and consumers.  Such appeals tapered off and mostly disappeared when Parliament repealed most of the duties and merchants and shopkeepers eagerly resumed trade.  “JUST Imported” became a standard part of advertisements once again as fewer and fewer advertisers incorporated politics into their notices.  Greenlaw and a few others, however, continued giving directions that included the Liberty Tree.  Whether they intended to make political statements or merely chose a convenient landmark, they reminded readers of a complicated relationship with the mother country, one made all the more fraught by the quartering of troops in the city and the Boston Massacre.  Participating in the marketplace, such advertisements asserted, was part of larger web of interactions between the colonies and Britain.

Slavery Advertisements Published June 20, 1771

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.

Maryland Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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Maryland Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (June 20, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (June 20, 1771).

June 19

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

“RUN away … a Negro Fellow named WILL.”

“RUN away … the six following NEGROES, viz. Cudjoe, Jemmy, Long Jemmy, Rynah, Venus, and her daughter Dye.”

“RUN away … SARAH … carried a negro boy with her named HECTOR.”

“RUN away … a NEGRO MAN named Hector.”

Colonial newspapers regularly carried accounts of Black resistance to enslavement in the form of “runaway” advertisements, documenting the courage and fortitude of enslaved men, women, and children who liberated themselves.  Enslavers certainly did not place those advertisements to celebrate the perseverance of enslaved people who seized their liberty.  Instead, enslavers appealed to readers to engage in surveillance of Black people to determine if they encountered anyone matching the descriptions in the advertisements.  They offered rewards for the capture and return of each fugitive seeking freedom.  In the process, those enslavers and the printers who aided them created an extensive archive of stories of Black resistance before, during, and after the American Revolution.  Such advertisements appeared almost as soon as the Boston News-Letter commenced publication in 1704 and continued to appear in American newspapers for more than 150 years as countless Black people liberated themselves from those who attempted to hold them in bondage.

Some of those stories appeared in the June 17, 1771, edition of the South-Carolina and American Gazette.  Eight advertisements reported on sixteen Black people who “ABSENTED” themselves from those who purported to be their masters.  Some departed for freedom on their own, but others went in the company of a companion or small group.  Will, for instance, made his escape from James Witter on his own, though friends who remained behind may have provided assistance.  James Sinkler certainly suspected that Hector received aid from others, reporting he was likely “harboured at Mr. Boone’s plantation in Christ Church parish, where his father and mother reside.”  Sarah, a “very artful and sensible” woman who was “well known in town and country,” took Hector, a thirteen-year-old boy, with her.  Their enslaver, Stephen Miller, stated that Hector “had then irons on,” creating an even greater challenge for Sarah and the boy.  Cudjoe, “an elderly fellow,” led five others to freedom.  When he departed from Peter Sinkler and James Sinkler’s plantation, Jemmy, Long Jemmy, Rynah, and Venus went with him, as did Venus’s twelve-year-old daughter, Dye.  The Sinklers could not conceive of the others taking this action on their own, claiming that the “very artful” Cudjoe “enticed the others away.”  Even if Cudjoe provided the initial inspiration, the others desired freedom so much that they joined their elder in seizing it for themselves.

Today the nation commemorates Juneteenth, the first time doing so as a federal holiday.  This new designation should encourage contemplation of the long road to liberation and the work that remains to be done to create the fair and just society envisioned in the ideals expressed at the time of the founding but unevenly applied and incompletely enacted.  That contemplation should include a more complete accounting of American history, including the stories of courageous Black men, women, and children who liberated themselves or assisted others in achieving freedom.  Cudjoe, Sarah, Hector, and so many others made history, their stories strands of a much larger tapestry of American history.

June 18

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

Essex Gazette (June 18, 1771).

“Those who live remote shall have their Orders as faithfully complied with as if present themselves.”

Apothecaries Nathanael Dabney and Philip Godfrid Kast competed for customers.  Each placed an advertisement in the June 18, 1771, edition of the Essex Gazette, inviting prospective customers to their shops in Salem.  Making the choice between the two apothecaries even more visible to readers, their advertisements appeared one after the other.  Kast, the more experienced advertiser, placed the longer notice.  It extended more than a column, extensively listing the items in stock at the Sign of the Lion and Mortar.  Kast also included blurbs about patent medicines, some of them more familiar to consumers than others, such as “Dr. Hill’s Pectoral Balsam of Honey,” “Dr. Robert James’s Powder for Fevers,” “Dr Stoughton’s great Cordial Elixir for the Stomach,” and “Dr. Scott’s Powder for the Teeth.”  Dabney, on the other hand, provided a shorter list of his inventory, but also promising “every Article in the Apothecary’s Way.”  He aimed to make himself competitive with Kast.

Both apothecaries sought clients in Salem and beyond, inviting readers unable to visit their shops to submit orders.  Dabney and Kast each pledged not to favor customers who visited their shops over those who did not.  “Those who live remote,” Dabney proclaimed, “shall have their Orders as faithfully complied with as if present themselves.”  Kast deployed similar language in a nota bene that concluded his advertisement: “Those who will send their Orders shall be as well used as if present themselves.”  That included both consumers and “Practitioners … in Town and Country.”  The apothecaries described an eighteenth-century version of mail order for “DRUGS and MEDICINES,” an effort to enhance their sales and increase their revenues by offering a convenience to their customers.  Some prospective clients may have found Kast’s advertisement the more alluring of the two.  In addition to a longer list of merchandise, the blurbs about various patent medicines served as suggestions for distant customers unable to consult with the apothecary in person.  Furthermore, Kast trumpeted that he sold his wares “as reasonable, and on as good Credit, as can be purchased in Boston.”  The apothecary no doubt sought to engage every reader, but especially prospective customers outside of Salem who might have been likely to look to Boston, the larger port, for better bargains when resorting to sending orders from a distance.

Dabney and Kast promoted the assortment of medicines they carried and pledged good customer service, but Kast further embellished his marketing efforts by comparing his prices to those in Boston and by providing descriptions of certain patent medicines to help prospective customers make their choices.  For instance, Kast declared that Stoughton’s Cordial “is as necessary for all Seamen or Travellers, and others, to take with them as their daily Food.”  That level of detail required purchasing additional space in the Essex Gazette, but Kast may have determined it was well worth the expense if it drummed up additional business.

June 17

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Supplement to the Boston-Gazette (June 17, 1771).

“For further Particulars, enquire of Edes & Gill.”

Two short advertisements about enslaved people appeared in the June 17, 1771, edition of the Boston Evening-Post.  One announced, “TO BE SOLD, A likely Negro Fellow about 15 Years of Age.”  The other declared, “A Negro Child of a good Breed, to be given away.”  The same day, two other advertisements ran in the Boston-Gazette.  “To be Sold for Want of Employ,” stated one, “A likely Negro Woman, about 33 Years old, remarkable for Honesty and a good Temper.”  The other described “a Negro Man named Dick or Richard” who liberated himself.  The clever fugitive for freedom possessed a forged pass.

Each of those advertisements testified to the presence of slavery in northern colonies in the era of the American Revolution.  As colonists debated their rights and objected to abuses perpetrated by Parliament, many continued to enslave Africans and African Americans.  They turned to the same newspapers that kept them informed about politics and current events to facilitate the buying and selling … and even giving away … of enslaved men, women, and children.  In offering a reward for the capture and return of Dick, David Edgar encouraged all readers, whether enslavers or not, to engage in surveillance of Black people to detect the fugitive seeking freedom.  Newspapers, especially advertisements, helped perpetuate slavery in early America.

Most of those advertisements in the Boston Evening-Post and the Boston-Gazette on June 17 had another similarity:  the extent that the printer participated in the transaction.  Edgar was the only advertiser who signed his notice.  Both advertisements in the Boston Evening-Post concluded with “Enquire of the Printers.”  The one offering a “likely Negro Woman” for sale in the Boston-Gazette advised, “For further Particulars, enquire of Edes & Gill.”  In addition to being well known as printers of that newspaper, their names appeared in the colophon at the bottom of the column that featured that advertisement.  The printers of both newspapers not only generated revenues by publishing advertisements about enslaved people but also actively took part in the buying, selling, and giving away of enslaved men, women, and children.  They played the role of information brokers beyond the printed page, providing additional services to enslavers who placed and responded to advertisements.

Slavery Advertisements Published June 17, 1771

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.

Boston Evening-Post (June 17, 1771).

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Boston Evening-Post (June 17, 1771).

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Boston-Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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Supplement to the Boston-Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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Newport Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Mercury (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 17, 1771).

June 16

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

Pennsylvania Gazette (June 13, 1771).

Advertisements … are by him translated gratis.”

When printer Henry Miller (Johann Heinrich Müller) moved to a new location in the spring of 1771, he placed advertisements in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, the Pennsylvania Gazette, and the Pennsylvania Journal to alert current and prospective customers.  He also used the opportunity to advise them of specialized services he provided, proclaiming that he performed “all Manner of PRINTING-WORK, in English, German, and other Languages.”  In particular, Miller noted “English and German ADVERTISEMENTS done on the shortest Notice; and a German NEWS-PAPER published every Tuesday.”  A migrant from Germany himself, Miller granted prospective advertisers greater access to the sizable German community in Pennsylvania and beyond.

Miller commenced printing the Wochentliche Pennsylvanische Staatsbote in 1762, making it well established by the time he ran his advertisements in the colony’s English newspapers in 1771.  The final line of those advertisements in those newspapers echoed a note that appeared in the masthead of his own newspaper, usually the only portion printed in English rather than German.  “All ADVERTISEMENTS,” it read, “to be inserted in this Paper, or printed single by HENRY MILLER, Publisher hereof, are by him translated gratis.”  In offering his services as a translator and not charging for it, Miller sought to generate revenue by increasing the number of advertisers who placed notices in the Wochentliche Pennsylvanische Staatsbote.

The printer also produced other forms of advertising.  Items “printed single” likely included broadsides, handbills, trade cards, billheads, and catalogs.  Like their counterparts printed in English, those advertisements were ephemeral compared to the newspapers and almanacs that came off of Miller’s press.  Few survive today, but Miller’s newspaper advertisements and masthead suggest that various kinds of advertisements in German enhanced the vibrant advertising culture that emerged in Philadelphia in the decades before the American Revolution.  As newspapers, handbills, and other items printed by Miller circulated in Philadelphia and beyond, colonists encountered marketing in more than one language, underscoring global networks of commerce and migration in vast early America.

June 15

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

Providence Gazette (June 15, 1771).

“He will sell as cheap … as can be purchased anywhere on the Continent.”

Purveyors of goods and services frequently made appeals to price to entice prospective customers, but some made much bolder claims than others.  Consider how advertisers sought to leverage price to their advantage in the June 15, 1771, edition of the Providence Gazette.

William Eliot stocked a variety of textiles “to be sold cheap.”  Similarly, John Fitton sold flour, pork, and peas by the barrel, “all cheap for Cash” (or in trade for “good Melasses”).  In addition to promising low prices, other advertisers insisted that they set the lowest prices for their wares.  The partnership of Nicholas, Joseph, and Moses Brown, for instance, carried “a fine Assortment of Hard Ware and other GOODS, which they will sell on the lowest Terms.”  Coy and Waterman specialized in painting supplies, having “furnished themselves with a compleat Assortment of Painters Colours, which they will sell at the lowest Prices.”

Other advertisers made even more colorful proclamations about prices.  At his shop at the Sign of the Turk’s Head, Paul Allen supposedly offered some of the best bargains anywhere in the colonies.  He trumpeted that “he will sell on as low Terms … as can be purchased anywhere on the Continent.”  Allen informed prospective customers that his prices matched the best deals available in Boston, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, and other towns and cities.  Joseph Nash made the same comparison, declaring that he sold his “neat Assortment of GOODS … as cheap … as can be purchased anywhere on the Continent.”  Allen and Nash echoed an appeal John Morton and James Morton made in the Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy the previous day.  The Mortons promised prospective customers that they could acquire their merchandise “as cheap as in New York or Boston.”

The vast majority of merchants and shopkeepers mentioned low prices in their newspaper advertisements, though some were more creative than others in doing so.  Advertisers like Allen and Nash attempted to attract customers with reassurances that they had the best deals anywhere, not just prices that were low enough to compete in the local marketplace.  In the process, they prompted readers to imagine themselves participating in a consumer revolution taking place throughout the colonies and beyond.  Acquiring goods connected readers of the Providence Gazette to colonists in faraway places, giving them common experiences through their experiences in the marketplace.