May 31

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

South-Carolina Gazette (May 28, 1771).

“He shall receive another CARGO … so that at all Times the Public may be assured of seeing the greatest Variety.”

Philip Tidyman, a jeweler and goldsmith, alerted prospective customers in Charleston that he imported “A LARGE ASSORTMENT OF PLATE, JEWELS,” and other merchandise.  His inventory included gold watches, “Pearls in all Fancies,” tea kettles, and coffee pots.  His wares matched current tastes in London, “all new-fashioned” for discerning consumers.  Tidyman hoped that the items he already stocked would entice readers to visit his shop, but he did not focus exclusively on his current inventory.  Instead, he emphasized that he constantly received new merchandise.  Customers did not have to worry about the selection in his shop stagnating.

Tidyman proclaimed that he “shall receive another CARGO per Captain WILSON” in the near future as well as “Patterns of all new Goods in every London Ship” that arrived in the busy port.  That meant that “at all Times the Public may be assured of seeing the greatest Variety in every Branch of his Business.”  Rather than wait for Tidyman to publish subsequent advertisements, customers could keep current by making repeat visits to his shop.  The jeweler suggested that they were bound to discover something new on each trip.  In so doing, he attempted to create a sense of anticipation among consumers, not only desire for his current merchandise but also longing for whatever might arrive via the next vessels from London.

This strategy may have helped Tidyman distinguish his advertisement from one that Jonathan Sarrazin placed for a “LARGE and ELEGANT Assortment of PLATE and JEWELLERY” in the same issue of the South-Carolina Gazette.  Like Tidyman, Sarrazin stated that he “just imported” this merchandise, but he did not give any indication that he expected additional shipments to keep his inventory fresh.  He published an advertisement for the moment, while Tidyman crafted a marketing strategy intended to endure for quite some time after his notice ran in the newspaper.

May 30

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

Providence Gazette (May 30, 1772).

“Determined not to be undersold.”

To compete with other shopkeepers and merchants in Providence, Jones and Allen emphasized both low prices and extensive choices in their advertisement in the May 30, 1772, edition of the Providence Gazette.  The headline for their notice, “The GREATEST PENNYWORTHS Of ENGLISH and INDIA GOODS,” immediately alerted prospective customers to the bargains they would encounter at the Sign of the Golden Ball.  They elaborated on their low prices in the conclusion to their advertisement.  “Said JONES and ALLEN,” the partners confided, “think it needless to say any thing more urgent to the public, than that they deal for ready money, and are determined not to be undersold by any retailer in Providence.”  Although they did not make any explicit promises, Jones and Allen hinted that they would match the prices if customers found better deals in other shops.  They also made a special appeal concerning the prices for tea, sugar, and spices, pledging to part with them “on the lowest terms.”

To demonstrate that they made choices available to consumers, Jones and Allen listed dozens of items from among their inventory of textiles, garments, accessories, and housewares.  In many instances, they deployed language that suggested even more choices, such as “shaloons, tammies and calimancoes, of all colours,” “a large assortment of light and dark patches,” “an assortment of hemp, thread, cotton, worsted, and silk and worsted hose,” “an elegant assortment of ribbons,” and “An assortment of broaches, hair sprigs, ear rings, &c.”  The et cetera (abbreviated “&c.”) implied even more choices.  Jones and Allen also inserted “&c. &c.” and “&c. &c. &c.” to underscore that they stocked an even greater array of merchandise.  In addition, they did not list any of the items from among their “good assortment of hard-ware.”  Instead, they claimed those items were “too tedious to enumerate in an advertisement,” though readers may have suspected that Jones and Allen did not want to incur the additional expense.  After all, the advertisement already filled two-thirds of a column.

Other advertisers claimed to offer “the lowest Prices” in Providence, but did not exert the same effort in making that claim.  Similarly, others declared that they carried a “compleat Assortment of English, India, and Hard-Ware GOODS,” but did not list any of their wares.  Jones and Allen adapted popular marketing strategies, making their advertisement more distinctive than many others that ran in the same issue of the Providence Gazette.

Slavery Advertisements Published May 30, 1772

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 colonizers 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. Colonizers 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.

Providence Gazette (May 30, 1772).

**********

Providence Gazette (May 30, 1772).

May 29

GUEST CURATOR: Julia Tardugno

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (May 29, 1772).

“The very best of BOHEA TEA.”

This advertisement immediately struck me because tea was such an important symbol during the time of the American Revolution. Parliament’s taxed tea was through the Indemnity Act of 1767, one of the notorious Townshend Acts. When the Townshend Acts went into place, the colonists were so furious that they resorted to nonimportation agreements in which they no longer purchased goods from Britain. On October 28, 1767, a town meeting took place at Faneuil Hall in Boston to discuss the Townshend Acts and their negative impact on the colonies. A broadside distributed after the meeting said that colonists decided to meet “That some effectual Measures might be agreed upon to promote Industry, Economy, and Manufacturers; thereby to prevent the unnecessary Importation of European Commodities, which threaten the Country with Poverty and Ruin.” This petition to start the nonimportation agreements was voted on unanimously and the residents of Boston listed the items that they vowed not to purchase imported goods. Instead, they would encourage “Manufacturers” in the colonies. That included “Labrador tea.” The colonists felt strongly about implementing the nonimportation agreements at first, but they put an end to the boycotts in 1770 after Parliament repealed most of the taxes on imports. The tax on tea remained. The colonists canceled the nonimportation agreements two years prior to William Elliot’s advertisement about Bohea tea, a popular consumer good. That did not mean that colonists stopped worrying about the taxes on tea. In 1773, they participated in the Boston Tea Party. Tea became an even more important symbol of the American Revolution as a result of the Boston Tea Party, but that is not the whole story.

**********

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: Carl Robert Keyes

William Elliot was not alone in marketing tea to readers of the New-Hampshire Gazette in the spring of 1772.  Jeremiah Libbey listed tea alongside two other beverages, coffee and chocolate, in an advertisement that also promoted an “Assortment of ENGLISH GOODS.”  In another advertisement, David Cutler and J. Cutler provided an extensive list of their “General Assortment of GOODS that came in the last Ships from London.”  The groceries they stocked included “Bohea Tea, Coffee, [and] Chocolate.”  John Penhallow published an even more extensive catalog of “GOODS … Just Imported from LONDON.”  Like his competitors, he sold “choice Bohea Tea.”  Colonizers in Portsmouth and other towns had plenty of options when it came to purchasing tea.  Throughout the colonies, merchants and shopkeepers supplemented their other inventory with tea.

The ubiquity of tea makes it an ideal commodity for examining a variety of interlocking topics in my Revolutionary America class.  We discuss trade and commerce; consumer culture and rituals that helped build a sense of community; and boycotts, politics, and protests.  I introduce students to the traditional narrative about tea and taxes, but we also take into consideration details that complicate that narrative.  As Julia notes, colonizers rescinded the nonimportation agreements when Parliament repealed the duties on most imported goods even though the tax on tea remained in place.  Some colonizers advocated for holding firm until they achieved all of their goals, but most merchants wanted to resume trade and bring an end to the disruption in transatlantic commerce.  We examine how women participated in politics as consumers, especially as consumers of tea, when they made decisions about whether they would purchase imported goods.  In October 1774, women in Edenton, North Carolina, formalized their position by signing a petition in which they resolved to boycott tea and other imported goods.  In response, engraver Philip Dawe created a print that critiqued those women who did not seem to know their place … and, by extension, their male relations incapable of exercising proper authority within their households.  We also read Peter Oliver’s account of the “Origins & Progress” of the American Revolution, including his accusation that women devised various strategies for gathering together to drink tea and cheating on the boycott.  In addition, we discuss T.H. Breen’s descriptions of colonizers destroying tea at public gatherings and enforcing compliance with boycotts.  Many students initially view tea as a quaint vestige of the eighteenth century, associating it primarily with the Boston Tea Party.  Throughout the semester, we repeatedly return to tea so they gain a better understanding of the intersection of colonial culture and politics during the era of the American Revolution.

Welcome, Guest Curator Julia Tardugno

Julia Tardugno is a sophomore double majoring in History and Secondary Education at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is from Methuen, Massachusetts, where she discovered a passion for teaching and history. Her interests in history include World War II and the impact of social justice issues around the world. As a member of the Assumption community, Julia is a resident assistant, member of the Student Government Association as Senator and Vice President of the Class of 2024, Orientation Leader, ambassador for the Students Involved in Better Success Program, member of the Eco-Action Committee, and a Light the Way Scholar. In the future, Julia hopes to pursue a career as a college professor, where she hopes to pass on her love for learning to students to come. She conducted the research for her contributions as guest curator for the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project when enrolled in HIS 359 Revolutionary America, 1763-1815, in Fall 2021.

Welcome, guest curator Julia Tardugno!

Slavery Advertisements Published May 29, 1772

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 colonizers 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. Colonizers 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.

New-Hampshire Gazette (May 29, 1772).

**********

New-Hampshire Gazette (May 29, 1772).

May 28

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

Pennsylvania Journal (May 28, 1772).

“CATHERINE DESSENER … came and stole away said boy.”

Beyond the articles and editorials that appeared elsewhere in eighteenth-century newspapers, advertisements often relayed news, gossip, or a combination of the two.  In a notice that ran in the May 28, 1772, edition of the Pennsylvania Journal, Thomas King relayed the story of a child that he had sheltered for more than five years and the child’s mother who “stole away said boy.”  Like advertisements about wives who “eloped” from their husbands, apprentices and indentured servants who ran away from their masters, and enslaved people who liberated themselves from their enslavers, King’s notice relayed the perspective of the advertisers and included only the details he chose to share with readers.  The mother, Catherine Dessener, might have given quite a different account had she placed her own advertisement.

According to King, Dessener left her son, Johannes, with him when the child was “only ten weeks old.”  Over the course of the next five and a half years, Dessener “made no satisfaction for [King’s] trouble of maintaining her child.”  King did not specify the details of any agreement he and Dessener reached when he agreed to shelter Johannes or how often he and the child had contact with Dessener while Johannes resided in his household.  He did warn others “not to take an indenture on said child, or entertain him at their peril.”  He might have been worried about Dessener earning the trust of another colonizer and then absconding with Johannes again … or he might have already had a claim on the child as an apprentice or servant when he reached an appropriate age.  King did not address issues that could have prompted Dessener to flee with her child, such as the quality of the food, clothing and shelter he provided or the treatment the child received in the King household.

King presented a straightforward story of a generous patriarch who welcomed a child of little means into his home, only to have the mother take advantage of the situation for years.  Whether or not that was accurate, King’s version framed the narrative for the public.  Dessener and her friends and relations may have circulated an alternative account via word of mouth, but they did not have the benefit of the power of the press that King purchased when he paid to place an advertisement in the Pennsylvania Journal.

Slavery Advertisements Published May 28, 1772

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 colonizers 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. Colonizers 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 (May 28, 1772).

**********

Maryland Gazette (May 28, 1772).

**********

Maryland Gazette (May 28, 1772).

**********

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (May 28, 1772).

**********

New-York Journal (May 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette (May 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette (May 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (May 28, 1772).

May 27

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (May 25, 1772).

“Shoemakers may be supplied with tools of every kind used in their business.”

A silhouette of a shoe adorned Robert Loosely’s advertisement in the May 25, 1772, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, but it was not footwear that the “Shoe Maker” aimed to sell.  Instead, he hawked “Shoemakers Tools, A general assortment lately imported from London.”  His inventory included “BEST London made cast steel knives,” “Pincers of all sizes, Shoe rasps and files of the best kind, Hammers of all sizes,” “An assortment of awl blades and tacks,” “Bend soles,” and much more.  The “&c. &c. &c” (or “etc. etc. etc.”) at the end of his list indicated that he named only a portion of his merchandise.

Loosely leveraged his training and experience as a shoemaker to convince others who followed the occupation that he was indeed qualified to assert that he provided them with “the best goods, on the most reasonable terms.”  He explained that he “served his apprenticeship in England, and for some years carried on a considerable trade there.”  That made him familiar with the equipment and supplies required to make shoes and boots.  He drew on experience in selecting which “Shoemakers Tools” to import and sell, unlike merchants and shopkeepers who treated those tools as general merchandise alongside so many other items they stocked.  Loosely underscored that during his time working in England he “became acquainted with the most reputed manufacturers of tools and leather.”  As a result, he “flatters himself he has it in his power to serve those that please to apply to him.”

Artisans with training or experience in England frequently gave those credentials in their newspaper advertisements when they migrated to the colonies, but they usually did so to convince prospective customers to purchase their wares or prospective clients to engage their services.  Loosely adapted that strategy to his own purposes, signaling to fellow artisans that they could depend on him to supply them with the best tools and materials to use in their own workshops.

May 26

GUEST CURATOR:  Kelsey Savoy

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

Essex Gazette (May 26, 1772).

“Every Article in the Apothecary Way.”

Nathaniel Dabney owned a shop called “Head of HIPPOCRATES” in Salem, Massachusetts. In an advertisement from the Essex Gazette on May 25, 1772, Dabney announced he had a “fresh and full Assortment of Drugs, Medicines, Groceries, Instruments,” and more, indicating that he ran an apothecary shop. An apothecary shop in 1772 and modern pharmacies are very similar.  That inspired me to find out more about medicine in the colonies during the eighteenth century.

Individuals who ran apothecary shops, who sold or administered medicines, did not require any education or licensure, nor did physicians. In “Medical Practice in Colonial America,” Whitefield J. Bell, Jr., notes that “only one in nine Virginia physicians of the eighteenth century had attended a medical school.”[1] Physicians and apothecaries often learned from experience instead of formal training.  This began to change in the colonies in 1772, the year Dabney posted this advertisement. Bell details the Medical Society of New Jersey dedicated to getting legislation passed that required physicians to obtain licensure by the courts to practice “after examination by a board of medical men.” The society’s goal was “to discourage and discountenance all quacks, mountebanks, imposters, or other ignorant pretenders to medicine, and not to associate professionally with any except those who had been regularly initiated into medicine.”[2] Requiring training for physicians was an improvement that colonists enacted during the era of the American Revolution.

**********

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Kelsey astutely observes that many eighteenth-century apothecary shops and twenty-first century retail pharmacies have much in common.  Neither of them exclusively carried drugs and medicines, though selling remedies of all sorts gave those establishments their primary identity.  Nathaniel Dabney (or Nathanael Dabney in other advertisements) made that clear when he selected Hippocrates, a physician from ancient Greece widely considered the “Father of Medicine,” to identify his shop.

In his newspaper notice, Dabney commenced the list of merchandise available at “the Head of HIPPOCRATES” with a “fresh and full Assortment of Drugs, [and] Medicines” and cataloged several familiar patent medicines from his “Assortment” of goods.  He sold “Turlington’s original Balsam of Life,” “Bateman’s Pectoral Drops,” “Dr. Walker’s Jesuits Drops,” “Anderson’s and Locker’s Pills,” and “Hooper’s Female [Pills],” as well as other patent medicines less commonly mentioned in newspaper advertisements.  Those nostrums were the over-the-counter medications of the day.  Customers could consult with the apothecary of they wished, just like customers ask pharmacists in retail stores for advice today, but many also selected patent medicines based on their reputation and common knowledge about the maladies they supposedly relieved.

Yet Dabney, like other apothecaries, hawked other goods.  His apothecary shop, like modern retail pharmacies, doubled as a convenience store where customers could acquire groceries, home health care equipment and supplies, and a variety of other items.  In his advertisement, Dabney promoted “Groceries,” including cinnamon, cloves, raisins, and “Flour of Mustard, by the Dozen or single Bottle.”  He also had supplies for the “Clothiers Business” and the “Painters Business,” mostly items for producing colors.  In addition, Dabney sold medical instruments to physicians, a practice not followed by most modern retail pharmacies that focus on providing care to consumers.  All the same, a visit to the Head of Hippocrates in 1772 likely would not have been that much different from a visit to CVS, Rite Aid, or other retail pharmacy today.

**********

[1] Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., “Medical Practice in Colonial America,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 31, no. 5 (September-October 1957): 444.

[2] Bell, “Medical Practice in Colonial America,” 453.