February 18

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

New-York Journal (February 18, 1773).

“With many other articles too numerous for an advertisement.”

Samuel Deall sold a variety of merchandise at his shop on Broad Street in New York in 1773.  In an advertisement in the February 18 edition of the New-York Journal, he listed only some of his wares, informing prospective customers that he carried “a large assortment of haberdashery and hosiery of all sort,” “Gentlemen and Ladies gloves of all sorts,” “gilt, bordered and plain message cards,” “Bayley’s boxes of improved soap with brushes for shaving,” “fine tooth brushes,” and “the fine new invented Cakes for shining liquid blacking for shoes and boots.”  The merchant listed a variety of other items and concluded by noting that he stocked “many other articles too numerous for an advertisement.”

In adopting that means of suggesting that he offered a wide array of choices to consumers, Deall deployed a strategy popular among merchants and shopkeepers.  Elsewhere in that issue of the New-York Journal, several other advertisers published short catalogs of their merchandise and added that space did not permit them to go into even greater detail.  For instance, Robert G. Livingston, Jr., stated that he sold “Sundry other goods in the store way, too tedious to mention.”  Similarly, Wigglesworth, Kent, and Company concluded their litany of goods with a promise that they had “many other Articles too tedious to enumerate.”  William Wikoff once again placed his advertisement that enticed consumers with “many more articles, too tedious to insert” in the newspaper.  Gerardus Duycknick ended his advertisement for his Universal Store, so named because he supposedly stocked everything, with a note about “a Variety of other Articles … too tedious to mention.”

Each of these advertisers used lists of goods to demonstrate some of the choices they made available to customers.  To enhance those lists, each also suggested that going into greater detail in a newspaper advertisement was neither practical nor entertaining.  Instead, they implied that prospective would have more satisfying and enjoyable experiences by visiting their stores, browsing their merchandise, and seeing for themselves the many choices that might suit their tastes and budgets.  As colonizers participated in a transatlantic consumer revolution in the eighteenth century, offering choices became one of the most popular marketing strategies deployed by merchants and shopkeepers.

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