What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“We have determined to publish the PENNSYLVANIA JOURNAL, or WEEKLY ADVERTISER, regularly every Wednesday.”
When William Bradford and Thomas Bradford shifted the weekly publication day of the Pennsylvania Journal from Thursdays to Wednesdays in July 1772, they inserted a notice at the top of the first column on the first page in the first issue published on a Wednesday. That notice appeared in larger font than the news items that filled the rest of the page. The following week, they removed the notice from the first page, but not entirely from the newspaper.
The shift in the publication day was no longer breaking news, but the Bradfords wished to continue promoting both the change in particular and their newspaper in general. The notice underscored the reason for shifting the publication day. Both the Pennsylvania Gazette and the Pennsylvania Journal had been published on Thursdays. According to the Bradfords, a “Great number of our friends, thinking that the publication of two Papers on the same day was rather inconvenient to the public, have solicited us to alter our from Thursday to Wednesday.” The adjustment, they claimed, amounted to a public service. In addition, the Bradfords pledged to continue to “make it our constant endeavour, to keep up the well-known spirit and impartiality of the paper” for the benefit of both subscribers and advertisers. When addressing prospective advertisers, the Bradfords underscored that they published an “extensive paper” that attracted many readers. They also made a bid for other business, promising that colonizers who “employ us un any other kind of printing” would have their jobs “done with care, punctuality, and dispatch.”
A compositor reset the type for this message “To the PUBLIC” and moved it from the first page to the third page in the July 22 edition, inserting it among the various advertisements published there. Unfortunately for the Bradfords, that was their last opportunity to publish that notice. A week later the printers of the Pennsylvania Gazette moved their publication day to Wednesdays in order to compete with the Pennsylvania Journal.