What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“MASON AND PATTON … have purchased all the remaining stock of MASON and HARTLEY.”
Mason and Hartley sold dry goods in Philadelphia in the early 1770s. When the partners went their separate ways, a new firm, Mason and Patton, positioned itself as the successor to Mason and Hartley in a newspaper advertisement that asked former customers to give them their business. Though the new partners certainly wished to retain the patronage of the clientele that Mason and Hartley cultivated, they also had other purposes when they published their advertisement in the January 13, 1773, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette.
Indeed, Mason and Patton commenced their notice by announcing that the “partnership of MASON and HARTLEY is now dissolved” and called on “all those indebted to the company, to make immediate payment, as their respective debts become due.” The new partners asserted that they “are invested with the sole power to collect and settle their company books.” In addition to customers with outstanding bills, Mason and Patton also requested that those “that have any demands against the said company … send in their accounts … for payment.” Before promoting their new endeavor, Mason and Patton first attended to the responsible conclusion of the previous partnership.
In so doing, they used the same advertisement “to acquaint the public, that they have purchased all the remaining stock of MASON and HARTLEY, … which they will sell on the most reasonable terms.” That inventory included a “compleat assortment of EUROPEAN and EAST-INDIA GOODS.” The new partners retained the location formerly occupied by Mason and Hartley. They hoped that the continuity in the merchandise and the location would prompt “the continuance of the customers of Mason and Hartley.” To entice both former and prospective new customers, Mason and Patton proclaimed that they “intend to pursue the Dry Goods Business in a very extensive manner,” touting their “constant fresh supplies from Europe.” Although they acquired the remaining stock of the former company, that did not mean that customers would select only among goods that lingered on the shelves. Mason and Patton promised choices to consumers, both returning customers and “the public in general.”