What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“☞ once more! ☜”
Many former customers of the “late Company of Gardiner & Jepson” did not respond to William Jepson’s notices in the Connecticut Courant calling on those “indebted by Judgment, Execution, Note, Book Debt, or otherwise” to settle accounts. That exasperated him. It also influenced the format of an advertisement that first ran in the July 21, 1772, edition of the newspaper. He wished to call attention to his efforts to notify debtors of their obligations, proclaiming that he “☞ once more! ☜” addressed them, setting apart that phrase not only in italics but also with a manicule (a typographic mark depicting a hand with its index finger extended in a pointing gesture) on either side to draw even more attention. He deployed that format a second time when threatening legal action against those who continued to ignore his advertisements, warning that “they must expect Trouble ☞ without Exception or further notice! ☜” A set of manicules once again enclosed the words in italics, making Jepson’s frustration palpable.
Other colonizers who placed advertisements in the Connecticut Courant included manicules, bit not nearly as extensively or creatively. Manicules most often appeared at the conclusion of advertisements, where “N.B.” might otherwise appear for a nota bene advising readers to take notice. For instance, Caleb Bull concluded an advertisement for “Choice Linseed Oyl” with a brief note stating that “☞ Cash will be given by said Bull for Post-ash.” A manicule that preceded that note directed attention to it. In another advertisement, enslavers John Northrop and John Sanfard offered a reward for the capture and return of “two Negro Men” who liberated themselves by running away at the end of May. Northrop and Sanfard provided descriptions of the unnamed fugitives seeking freedom in the body of the advertisement. In a note at the end, marked by a manicule, they warned that “☞ ‘Tis supposed they have each of them a forged pass.”
Manicules sometimes appeared in advertisements in the Connecticut Courant in the early 1770s. Most advertisers included them according to a standard fashion, but occasionally some advertisers, like Jepson, deployed manicules in innovative ways when they sought to underscore the message in their notices. They experimented with the graphic design possibilities available to them.