What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“The great Encouragement he has had beyond Expectation from his former Advertisements.”
John Thompson described himself to current and prospective customers as a “Tinman and Brazier from LONDON.” In an advertisement in the September 21, 1772, edition of the Boston-Gazette, he declared that he “Makes various Articles in Tin and Copper too tedious to enumerate.” Other artisans and purveyors of goods published lengthy lists of their merchandise to entice consumers, but Thompson opted instead to focus on a few select items. He proclaimed that he made “all Sorts of Polish’d Tin Ware like Silver, never before manufactured in Boston,” underscoring the value of purchasing from an artisan “from LONDON.” In addition, he carried “all Sorts of Come Tin Ware” as well as “Brass and Copper Vessels Tin’d with pure Grain Tin in the London Fashion.”
In his effort to secure his reputation and attract even more customers, Thompson expressed his gratitude to existing customers. Doing so suggested to prospective customers that he already established a clientele at his shop. He stated that he “is much oblig’d to all his Customers in General, and to the good People of Boston in Particular, for the great Encouragement he has had beyond Expectation from his former Advertisements.” Furthermore, his previous success “imboldens him again to advertise, hoping for a Continuance of Favours” from customers in Boston. Thompson offered rare commentary from an advertiser on the effectiveness of advertising in colonial America. He asserted that his advertising had indeed produced positive results even “beyond Expectation.” That certainly supported his allusions to an existing clientele, but that does not necessarily mean that it was mere puffery. After all, Thompson chose to place a new advertisement following his “former Advertisements.” He apparently believed that his earlier advertising had been successful, even if he exaggerated its effects in his new notice, or at least considered one more advertisement worth the investment. Some advertisers testified to the effectiveness of advertising by repeatedly placing notices in the public prints. Relatively few, however, made such explicit comments on the effectiveness of their marketing.