What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“The PRINTING and POST-OFFICES are removed to Meeting-Street.”
John Carter’s printing office had a new location. In early December 1772, the printer of the Providence Gazette moved from his location “in King-Street, opposite the Court-House” to a new location “in Meeting-Street, near the Court-House.” The colophon in the November 28 edition listed the former address. Carter updated the colophon in the December 5 edition.
That was not his only means for letting readers know that the printing office moved. He also inserted a notice that stated, “The PRINTING and POST-OFFICES are removed to Meeting-Street, nearly opposite the Friends Meeting-House.” To draw attention to it, Carter enclosed the notice within a border made of decorative type and gave it a prominent spot on the front page. It was the first item in the first column, making it difficult for readers to miss it, even if they only skimmed other content in that issue. That strategy was not new to Carter. The printing office previously “removed to a new Building on the main Street” in October 1771. At that time, Carter published an announcement enclosed within on a border as the first item on the first page of the October 12 edition. He also revised the colophon to reflect the new location.
Other elements remained the same. Carter continued to use a sign depicting “Shakespear’s Head” to identify the printing office. Colonizers still encountered it as they traversed the streets of Providence, a familiar sight in the commercial landscape of the city. The printer also continued to promote other services in the colophon, advising that “all Manner of Printing-Work is performed with Care and Expedition” at his office. In particular, “Hand-Bills … done in a neat and correct Manner, at a very short Notice, and on reasonable Terms.”
Carter placed a subscription proposal for an edition of “ENGLISH LIBERTIES, OR The free-born Subject’s INHERITANCE” below the notice about the new location. In the previous issue, that subscription proposal and an advertisement for the “NEW-ENGLAND ALMANACK” that Carter published and sold appeared on the front page. As usual, all other advertisements ran on the final pages. Carter exercised his prerogative as printer to give his own notices prime spots in the newspaper.