April 9

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

Essex Gazette (April 9, 1771).

“It may be had also of Doctor Kast, or Miss Priscilla Manning, at SALEM, and of Mr. Dummer Jewett at IPSWICH.”

Daniel Scott operated “the Medicine-Store, at the Sign of the Leopard” in Boston.  In an advertisement in the January 21, 1771, edition of the Boston-Gazette, he promoted a “compleat Assortment” of imported “Drugs and Medicines, Chymical and Galenical” as well as patent medicines.  In the following months, he turned his attention to marketing “Dentium Conservator, Or the Grand Preserver of the Teeth and Gums,” a medicine that he prepared at his shop.  For several weeks he placed advertisements in the Boston Evening-Post, hawking the “excellent Powder” and asserting that it was “the best adapted for preserving the Teeth and Gums, and preventing them from aching, of any Preparation offered to the Publick.”  He also advertised artificial teeth and other dentistry services.  The apothecary concluded his advertisement with a reminder that he also carried a variety of medicines beyond the “Dentium Conservator.”

Scott did not confine his advertising to newspapers in Boston.  He also placed notices in the Essex Gazette, published in Salem.  For the most part, those advertisements replicated the copy that ran in the Boston Evening-Post, but the apothecary made one addition.  In a nota bene, he informed prospective customers of local agents who carried the “Dentium Conservator” and sold it on his behalf: “It may be had also of Doctor Kast, or Miss Priscilla Manning, at SALEM, and of Mr. Dummer Jewett at IPSWICH.”  Philip Godfrid Kast, another apothecary, operated a shop at the Sign of the Lion and Mortar.  Manning peddled a variety of wares, mostly textiles, but apparently supplemented those revenues through her association with Scott and his “Dentium Conservator.”  Both Kast and Manning previously advertised in the Essex Gazette.  Jewett was likely also a familiar figure to readers of that newspaper.  The following year the governor appointed him justice of the peace for Essex County.

Scott could have chosen to produce and sell his “Dentium Conservator” exclusively at his shop in Boston.  Instead, he recruited associates in other towns, distributed his product to them, and assumed responsibility for marketing in an effort to increase sales.  The patent medicines that Scott stocked at his shop bore names familiar to customers.  His “Dentium Conservator,” on the other hand, did not benefit from an established reputation.  Scott intended that the combination of advertising in newspapers published in Boston and Salem and designating local agents to sell his product in Ipswich and Salem would enhance both the visibility and the reputation of his “Dentium Conservator.”

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