September 30

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

Boston Evening-Post (September 30, 1771).

“A very large Assortment of Winter Goods.”

Most advertisements in eighteenth-century newspapers consisted text unadorned with images, though some did feature woodcuts depicting ships, houses, enslaved people, horses, or, even less frequently, shop signs.  Despite the lack of images, advertisers and compositors sometimes experimented with graphic design in order to draw attention to newspaper notices.  Some of those efforts were rather rudimentary.  In the September 30, 1771, edition of the Boston Evening-Post, for instance, Hopestill Capen’s name served as the headline for his advertisement.  That was not unusual, but the size of the font was.  Larger than the names of any other merchants and shopkeepers who placed advertisements in that issue, the size of Capen’s name demanded attention for his advertisement.  Thomas Lee pursued a similar strategy with a headline proclaiming “SILKS” in a large font.

Capen and Lee may or may not have consulted with the printer or compositor about those elements of their advertisements.  They may have submitted the copy and left the design to the compositor.  Gilbert Deblois, on the other hand, almost certainly gave instructions or even spoke with the compositor concerning the unique format of his advertisement.  The text ran upward at a forty-five degree angle, distinguishing it from anything else that appeared in the pages of the Boston Evening-Post.  Deblois hawked a “very large Assortment of Winter Goods, with every other Kind imported from Great-Britain.”  In so doing, he used formulaic language that appeared in countless other advertisements in the 1760s and early 1770s.  Yet he devised a way to make his message more interesting and noticeable.  That likely required a greater investment on his part.  Advertisers usually paid for the amount of space their notices occupied, not by the word, but in this case setting type at an angle required extraordinary work on the part of the compositor.  Reorienting Deblois’s advertisement was not merely a matter of selecting a larger font, incorporating more white space, or including ornamental type for visual interest.

Deblois carried many of the same goods as Capen, Caleb Blanchard, and Nathan Frazier, all of them competitors who placed much longer advertisements listing the many items among their merchandise.  Rather than confront consumers with the many choices available to them at his shop, Deblois instead opted to incite interest for his “large Assortment of Winter Good” using graphic design to draw attention to his advertising copy.  The unique format of his advertisement made it stand out among the dozens that appeared in that issue of the Boston Evening-Post.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 30, 1771

GUEST CURATOR: Chloe Amour

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.

From compiling an archive of digitized eighteenth-century newspapers to identifying advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children in those newspapers to preparing images of each advertisement to posting this daily digest, Chloe Amour served as guest curator for this entry.  She completed this work while enrolled in an independent study for HIS 390 – Digital Humanities Practicum at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in Spring 2021.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Boston-Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (September 30, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (September 30, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (September 30, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (September 30, 1771).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (September 30, 1771).

September 29

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (September 26, 1771).

Bickerstaff’s Boston ALMANCK, For the Year 1772.”

With the arrival of fall in 1771 newspaper advertisements for almanacs for 1772 became more numerous and more extensive.  Starting in August and continuing into September, printers announced that they would soon publish popular and favorite titles, but by the beginning of October their notices indicated that consumers and retailers could purchase almanacs.  To encourage sales, some printers composed advertisements that previewed the contents of their almanacs.

John Fleeming followed this progression in his marketing efforts.  On August 15, he placed an advertisement in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter to inform readers that “Bickerstaff’s Almanack For the Year 1772, Will be published in September.”  He declared that it would “contain many excellent Receipts, interesting Stories, curious Anecdotes, [and] useful Tables” in addition to “the usual Calculations.”  On September 26, he placed a much lengthier advertisement, one that extended two-thirds of a column, to announcement that the almanac was “THIS DAY PUBLISHED.”  Fleeming devoted most of the advertisement to the contents, hoping to incite curiosity and interest.

As promised, the almanac included “USEFUL RECEIPTS,” with a headline and separate section that listed many of them.  Buyers gained access to a recipe for “A Cure for the Cramp,” “Dr. Watkins famous Family Medicine,” “An excellent remedy for all Nervous Complaints,” and “A cure for the Scurvy,” among others.  In terms of “interesting Stories [and] curious Anecdotes,” readers would be entertained or edified by an “Account of a remarkable fight betwixt a sailor and a large Shark,” “A description of the wonderful Man Fish, with a print of the same,” and “A caution to Juries in criminal causes, and the uncertainty of circumstantial evidence shewen in two very remarkable causes.”  The “useful Table” included “Distances of the most remarkable Towns on the Continent, with the intermediate Miles,” “A Compendium Table of Interest,” and a “Table of the value of Sterling Money, at Halifax, Nova-Scotia, the different parts of New-England, New-York and Philadelphia.”  Among the “usual Calculations,” Fleeming listed “Sun’s rising and setting,” “Full and changes of the Moon,” and the “Time of High Water at Boston, twice a day.”  He also promoted several poems and “A few good Husbandry Lessons.”

Fleeming faced competition from other printers.  Immediately above his advertisement, a consortium of Boston printers placed their own notice for “The NORTH-AMERICAN’S ALMANACK: Being, the GENTLEMENS and LADIES DIARY For the Year of Christian Æra 1772” with calculations by Samuel Stearns.  That advertisement, a fraction of the length of the one placed by Fleeming, listed some of its contents, but did not go into as much detail.  For consumers who did not already have a strong loyalty to one title over others, Fleeming likely considered his extensive list of the contents of his almanac effective in winning them over and well worth the investment.

September 28

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

Providence Gazette (September 28, 1771).

“He hath newly opened Shop near the North End of the Bridge.”

In an era before standardized street numbers, many advertisers included directions to their businesses in their newspaper advertisements.  Amos Throop, for instance, instructed prospective customers that he sold an assortment of medicines “At the Sign of the Pestle and Mortar, in King-street, Providence” in an advertisement in the September 28, 1771, edition of the Providence Gazette.  Elsewhere in that issue, Edward Thurber promoted a variety of goods “At his Store, the North End of Providence.”  In an advertisement for books and stationery, John Carter did not include directions to his printing office, but the colophon that appeared at the bottom of the page featured that information.  Each issue concluded with an invocation of Carter’s location, “at Shakespear’s Head, in King-Street, near the Court-House.”  Other advertisers, however, were so familiar to prospective customers in Providence and its environs that they did not need to list their locations, including John Brown and Joseph and William Russell.

Out of necessity, advertisers from beyond the city did include directions for finding their shops or directing correspondence.  Ebenezer Bridgham did so in his advertisement for imported goods available “At the Staffordshire and Liverpool Warehouse, in King-street, Boston.”  In a subscription notice that ran in newspapers throughout the colonies, John Dunlap gave his location as “the Newest Printing-Office, in Market-street, Philadelphia.”  Both Bridgham and Dunlap sought customers who would send away for the items in their advertisements.  Closer to Providence, Charles Rhodes of Pawtuxet aimed to attract customers to his “newly opened Shop near the North End of the Bridge.”  While he may have welcomed orders via letter, he also hoped that customers in and near his village would visit his shop to examine his “fresh and general Assortment of English, East and West India Goods … and many other Articles, too tedious to enumerate” for themselves.  Given the size of the village, it may have been sufficient to give his location as “CHARLES RHODES, In Pawtuxet.”  The shopkeeper instead elaborated further for the convenience the clientele he wished to cultivate, a down payment on the “good Treatment” he promised to “Those who shall please to favour him with their Custom.”  In the end, Rhodes expected good customer service, including directions to find his shop easily, would accrue benefits to his new enterprise.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 28, 1771

GUEST CURATOR: Chloe Amour

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.

From compiling an archive of digitized eighteenth-century newspapers to identifying advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children in those newspapers to preparing images of each advertisement to posting this daily digest, Chloe Amour served as guest curator for this entry.  She completed this work while enrolled in an independent study for HIS 390 – Digital Humanities Practicum at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in Spring 2021.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Providence Gazette (September 28, 1771).

September 27

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (September 27, 1771).

“As the Owner is returning immediately to ENGLAND, he will sell them on very low Terms.”

An anonymous advertiser informed readers of the New-Hampshire Gazette that he offered great bargains on an assortment of textiles and other imported goods because he planned to sail “Immediately to ENGLAND.”  On September 27, 1771, the advertiser encouraged prospective customers to act quickly because “he will stay but a Fortnight in Town.”  Since he was such a motivated seller, he was willing to part with his goods “on very low Terms,” so retailers and consumers alike would “find it to their Advantage in dealing with him.”  He did not give his name, instead merely stating that he offered the goods for sale “at Mr. Stavers’s Tavern in Portsmouth.”

To whet the appetites of potential buyers, the anonymous advertiser listed many of the items, including an “Assortment of strip’d and flower’d border’d Lawn Handkerchiefs,” a “variety of Gauze Handkerchiefs and flower’d Gauze Aprons,” and an “elegant Assortment of Fashionable Ribbons.”  Reiterating “assortment” and “variety” underscored that his customers benefited from an array of choices in addition to low prices.

At the end of the notice, the advertiser also listed “a few Setts of Doctor HEMET’s Famous Essence of Pearl and Pearl Dentifice for the Teeth, with proper Brushes and Directions.”  Readers encountered a more extensive advertisement for that product further down the column, though that advertisement indicated that Hemet, a dentist in England, had appointed William Scott in Boston and W. Bayley in London as local agents for wholesale and retail sales.  The advertiser did not indicate where he acquired Hemet’s dental care products, but he offered consumers in Portsmouth greater convenience than sending away to Scott in Boston.  Scott’s advertisement providing more detail about the products bolstered his own marketing without incurring additional expense.

The anonymous advertiser attempted to capture the attention of readers of the New-Hampshire Gazette with a “limited time only” offer, suggesting that his imminent departure for England put them in a good position to negotiate for low prices.  If that was not enough to entice prospective customers, he also promoted extensive choices and even the convenience of acquiring a product otherwise available only in Boston.  Appeals to price and choice were standard elements of eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements, but this anonymous advertiser further enhanced those strategies in his efforts to engage customers.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 27, 1771

GUEST CURATOR: Chloe Amour

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.

From compiling an archive of digitized eighteenth-century newspapers to identifying advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children in those newspapers to preparing images of each advertisement to posting this daily digest, Chloe Amour served as guest curator for this entry.  She completed this work while enrolled in an independent study for HIS 390 – Digital Humanities Practicum at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in Spring 2021.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

New-Hampshire Gazette (September 27, 1771).

September 26

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

Pennsylvania Journal (September 26, 1771).

“The newest fashionable muffs.”

In the fall of 1771, the partnership of Fromberger and Siemon took to the pages of the Pennsylvania Journal to promote a “Very large assortment of Russia and Siberia fur skins” which they intended to make into muffs, tippets, and linings for cloaks.  They deployed a variety of marketing strategies to capture the attention of consumers in Philadelphia and its environs.

For instance, the partners informed readers that they sold “the newest fashionable muffs, tippets, and ermine, now worn by the ladies at the courts of Great Britain and France.”  Fromeberger and Siemon attempted to incite demand by educating their prospective clients.  Ladies who feared they were unfamiliar with the latest trends on the other side of the Atlantic as well as those who merely wanted to confirm that they had indeed kept up with the latest styles could visit Fromberger and Siemon’s shop to outfit themselves.

Even as the partners emphasized European tastes, they also promoted “American manufacture.”  In the process, they suggested to “the ladies” that they could play an important role in supporting the commercial and politic interests of the colonies in the wake of recent meddling by Parliament that had resulted in nonimportation agreements in response to the Stamp Act and the duties imposed on certain goods in the Townshend Acts.  All but the duty on tea had been repealed and merchants returned to importing vast arrays of goods, but some American entrepreneurs continued to advocate for “American manufacture.”  Consumers did not have to sacrifice quality when supporting those entrepreneurs, at least according to advertisers like Fromberger and Siemon who promised they made muffs and tippets “superior to that which is manufactured in England.”

In addition to those appeals, the partners also offered a free ancillary service to their customers.  “Ladies who purchase any manufactured furs of great value” could wear them in the fall, winter, and spring and then “send them to our manufactory” where they would “be taken care of gratis for the summer season.”  Fromberger and Siemon cultivated relationships with customers that did not end when making a sale but could instead continue for years as they assisted in the care and maintenance of expensive garments.

A woodcut depicting a muff and tippet may have drawn the attention to Fromberger and Siemon’s advertisement, but they did not rely on the visual image alone to market their wares.  Instead, they incorporated several appeals to “the ladies” they hoped would visit their shop, order garments, and make purchases.  They invoked current fashions in England and France, the importance of supporting “American manufacture,” and free services to convince readers to become customers.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 26, 1771

GUEST CURATOR: Chloe Amour

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.

From compiling an archive of digitized eighteenth-century newspapers to identifying advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children in those newspapers to preparing images of each advertisement to posting this daily digest, Chloe Amour served as guest curator for this entry.  She completed this work while enrolled in an independent study for HIS 390 – Digital Humanities Practicum at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in Spring 2021.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Maryland Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Maryland Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Maryland Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Maryland Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Maryland Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (September 26, 1771).

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New-York Journal (September 26, 1771).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Pennsylvania Journal (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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South-Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 26, 1771).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 26, 1771).

September 25

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (September 23, 1771).

“[The particulars are ommitted this week for want of room.]”

When the ship America arrived in New York as summer turned to fall in 1771, merchants and shopkeepers received new merchandise from their associates in England.  Many of them placed newspaper advertisements to alert prospective customers that they had new inventory.  Purveyors of goods were not alone, however, in welcoming new opportunities to do business.  For Hugh Gaine, the printer of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, the America delivered more than just news for him to publish but also opportunities to generate advertising revenue.

Henry Remsen and Company placed an advertisement announcing that they “Have imported in the America, Capt. Hervey, from Hull … a general assortment of seasonable goods.”  Similarly, Daniel Phoenix noted that he “Has just imported in the America, Capt. Hervey, from Hull … the following goods” and then, like Remsen and Company listed dozens of items.  Henry Williams ran a shorter advertisement, but he also declared that he “HATH imported by theAmerica, Captain Hervey,” a variety of textiles that he would sell for low prices.

Gerret Keteltas and Wynandt Keteltas also published a short advertisement in the September 23 edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, after receiving “a neat and general assortment of European and India goods” via “the America, Capt. Hervey.”  Unlike the others, their advertisement did not appear in its entirety.  Instead, Gaine truncated their notice and included an explanation that “The particulars are ommitted this week for want of room.”  The printer could have made room for the advertisement, but at the expense of publishing news from London received by ships that recently arrived in New York.  Instead, he gave the Keteltases’ advertisement a privileged spot in the next edition placing it at the top of one of the columns on the third page.  It appeared immediately below the chart of high tides and prices current that Gaine regularly incorporated into the masthead, making it even more likely that readers would take note of the advertisement.

Like other printers, Gaine faced editorial decisions about the balance of news and advertising.  Paid notices accounted for significant revenue for many printers, especially for Gaine since he regularly issued a two-page supplement devoted entirely to advertising.  Yet subscribers who wanted to read the news were also an important part of the equation.  If they discontinued their subscriptions because they did not receive as much news content as they wished, then newspapers became less attractive to advertisers who wished to reach as many prospective customers as possible.  In this instance, Gaine attempted to chart a course to satisfy both readers and advertisers when both news and imported good arrived on the America.