June 16

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

Pennsylvania Journal (June 16, 1773).

“The CONVENIENT BATH [and] The MINERAL SPRING (similar to the German Spaw).”

Newspaper advertisements promoted a nascent leisure and tourism industry in the late eighteenth century.  For instance, an advertisement for the “CONVENIENT BATH” at Perth Amboy, New Jersey, intended to run for two months during the summer of 1773 made its first appearance in the Pennsylvania Gazette and the Pennsylvania Journal on June 16.  The proprietors informed prospective guests that their facilities were “put in very good order for the reception of such as incline to BATH in SEA WATER.”  In addition, they also opened the “MINERAL SPRING (similar to the German Spaw).”  Visitors to the bath and mineral spring could arrange for “Genteel Lodgings” with “private families” in the town.

To entice colonizers in Philadelphia to travel to Perth Amboy, the proprietors confided that “several persons last year received great benefit” from bathing in sea water.  In addition, a combination of bath and spa “proved efficatious to scorbutic, and other disorders.”  They expected that prospective clients might remember advertisements published the previous summer, notices that went into greater detail about the health benefits associated with partaking in the services offered at their facilities.  In an advertisement in the New York Journal, for instance, the proprietors explained that their “Bath will be more beneficial, as at about two Miles Distance is a Mineral Water” and “its proper Distance procuring moderate Exercise after bathing, has proved in many Instances very assistant to the Medicinal Quality of the Waters.” They also asserted that the regimen had been “well examined by several Physicians of Ability, and frequently recommended by them” after observing “great Success” among those who visited the bath and “spaw.”

The proprietors did not provide as many details in the advertisement they ran in the summer of 1773 compared to the one that announced their inaugural season in 1772.  Perhaps they believed that word-of-mouth recommendations helped to enhance the reputation of the facility among the cohort of consumers with the leisure time and resources that would allow them to visit the shore during the summer, making it unnecessary to go into more specifics in their latest advertisement.  They may have considered the weekly repetition of the shorter advertisement over two months sufficient to create a buzz among the better sorts most likely to avail themselves of the bath and spa services in Perth Amboy.

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