What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“Every other article that fashion produces in the millenary business.”
The appropriately named Susannah Faircloth sold a variety of textiles and adornments at her shop in New York in the early 1770s. In an advertisement in the November 25, 1771, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, she listed “a variety of sattens and peelongs, figured and plain muslins, lawns, cambricks and taffeties” and “figured and plain gauze,” naming an array of fabrics familiar to discerning eighteenth-century consumers. She acquired her wares from England, having imported them “in the Britannia, Capt. Thomas Miller, and the last vessels from London.”
Faircloth and other advertisers reported such connections to the cosmopolitan center of the empire as a means of convincing prospective customers that they carried the latest fashions. Elsewhere in the same issue, for instance, the partnership of Leigh and Price promoted goods “imported by the Britannia, Capt. Miller, and by the late Vessels from London.” Several artisans who set up shop in New York indicated that they formerly practiced their trades in London, including Bennett and Dixon, “Jewellers, Goldsmiths, and Lapidaries, from LONDON,” James Yeoman, “WATCH and CLOCK-MAKER, from LONDON,” and Thomas Brown, “Marble Cutter, FROM LONDON.” With so many artisans hailing from London and so many merchants and shopkeepers outfitting customers in garments and goods from London, the advertisements in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury suggested to customers that they had full access to the styles of the fashionable metropolis.
Faircloth also invoked the latest tastes more explicitly. Among her inventory, she carried “a quantity of the most fashionable ribbons.” She concluded her advertisement with a proclamation that she also sold “every other article that the fashion produces in the millenary business.” Prospective customers could depend on her to offer more than just goods shipped from London. She also provided knowledge of the latest trends, a valuable resource for consumers.