What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Thurber and Cahoon WANT to purchase … Red Oak Staves.”
In the early 1770s, Thurber and Cahoon regularly advertised imported goods for sale at “the Sign of the BUNCH of GRAPES” in Providence. For instance, they hawked a “compleat Assortment of English and India GOODS, Of almost every Kind” in an advertisement in the July 18, 1772, edition of the Providence Gazette. In addition, they promoted a “general Assortment of WEST-INDIA GOODS” in the same notice. A notation at the end, “(3 M),” indicated that they planned to run the advertisement for three months.
Thurber and Cahoon did not turn to the public prints solely to market merchandise to consumers in Providence and nearby towns. They also placed advertisements seeking resources they needed to participate in transatlantic trade, including wooden barrel staves. Two such advertisements ran on the final page of the Providence Gazette on July 18, 1772. In one, Thurber and Cahoon joined with Edward Thurber in calling on the public to supply them with a “Quantity of LONG STAVES.” They needed the staves “immediately,” offering “good Pay” for them. In another advertisement, they stated that they “WANT to purchase a Quantity of square edged Yellow Pine Boards, and Red Oak Stvaes.” Again, they offered “good Pay” for those items. The notation “(T. b. c.)” appeared on the final line, alerting the compositor that that Thurber and Cahoon intended for the advertisement “to be continued” until they alerted the printing office to discontinue it.
As Thurber and Cahoon utilized the Providence Gazette for both selling merchandise at their shop and acquiring supplies from other colonizers, John Carter, the printer, enjoyed a steady revenue stream. Those advertisements helped in funding the distribution of news from London, Marseilles, Albany and Boston that appeared in the July 18 edition, including “the report of a Committee of the Honourable House of Representatives” in Massachusetts “to consider of a message from his Excellency the Governor.” That report raised concerns about the governor, Thomas Hutchinson, “receiving his support, independent of the grants and acts of the General Assembly,” considering it a “dangerous innovation” because it made the governor less accountable to “the people” of Massachusetts. Readers of the Providence Gazette learned about some of the most important issues that eventually resulted in the colonies declaring independence in part because Thurber and Cahoon ran advertisements seeking barrel staves “(T. b. c.)”