What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
Peter Timothy, the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette, and Charles Crouch, the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, both had too much content to fit in the four pages of the standard issues of their newspapers on January 21, 1772. Crouch distributed a four-page Supplement printed on a smaller sheet, while Timothy doubled the amount of content that he distributed with a Continuation printed on the same size sheet as the standard issue.
Except for the first two columns on the first page, that Continuation consisted entirely of advertising. In newspapers printed throughout the colonies, it was often the case that printers used supplements for advertising when they ran out of space in their standard issues. To aid readers in navigating the publication, Timothy inserted a heading for “New Advertisements” in the Continuation. The first advertisements under that heading, however, also ran on the third page of the standard issue. They had not previously appeared in the South-Carolina Gazette, so in that sense they were indeed “New Advertisements.”
Why were some advertisements published twice in the South-Carolina Gazette and its Continuation on a single day? John Marley advertised a house and lot for sale. Justina St. Leger advised consumers that she stocked an assortment of “MILLINARY GOODS” imported from London. Katherine Lind and William Burrows, executors for Thomas Lind, asked readers to settle accounts. All three repeated advertisements were short, so the printer may simply have deployed them as filler to complete the page. In that case, Timothy may very well have inserted those notices in the Continuationgratis, charging the advertisers only for publishing them in the standard issue.
A heading for “New Advertisements” also appeared in the standard issue. Few colonial printers used such headings, but Timothy did so regularly. Perhaps he thought the heading incited interest among readers and prompted them to examine the advertisements more closely. In turn, that benefited Timothy’s own customers who paid to have their notices run in the South-Carolina Gazette. The printer also had a heading for “Timothy’s Marine List,” a distinctive means of identifying the shipping news from the customs house. Even if some advertisements sometimes ran for a second time under the header for “New Advertisements,” Timothy’s use of headers to mark sections for advertising and the shipping news helped to give his newspaper its own look that made it easy to recognize and distinguish from other newspapers.