July 24

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

Providence Gazette (July 24, 1773).


For quite some time in 1773, William Hawxhurst “In NEW-YORK” advertised widely, seeking customers for the “Best ANCHORS, Made of Sterling Iron,” among mariners in several colonies.  Consider the notice that appeared in the Providence Gazette on Saturday, July 24.  During the previous week, the same advertisement ran in the Newport Mercury on Monday, July 19, the Connecticut Courant (published in Hartford) on Tuesday, July 20, and the Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy and the New-London Gazette on Friday, July 23.  Curiously, Hawxhurst did not place notices in any of the newspapers published in New York.  Perhaps he relied on personal connections and the visibility of the anchors “in a Yard between [Burling’s] Slip and Byvank’s Store, on the Dock,” to market them to prospective customers in that busy port.  The publications he did choose for his advertisements represented every newspaper in Connecticut and every newspaper in Rhode Island, suggesting that he carefully crafted a regional marketing campaign.

In addition to the anchors, Hawxhurst advertised other goods.  Several years earlier, he “erected a Finer and great hammer, for refining the Sterling pig iron, into bar” in New York.  He continued to produce and sell “the best Sterling-refined Iron, warranted good” and “Pig-Iron of the Sterling new Mine, cast in Cinder, warranted good” as well as “Scythe [Iron]” and “Keen’s best Bloomery Iron.”  Hawxhurst also made clear that he was willing to barter, accepting several commodities, including “pickled Cod Fish, Mackarel, Liver-Oil, and New-England Tobacco,” in exchange for anchors and iron.  That list of commodities certainly reflected what mariners operating from ports in Connecticut and Rhode Island could offer as payment.  While he had the attention of readers of several newspapers, Hawxhurst also announced that he sought to hire a “Person well qualified to manufacture Steel from Pig Iron, in the German Way.”  Like many advertisements that appeared in early American newspapers, this one served multiple objectives that defied classification for a single purpose.  It ranged widely in terms of both distribution and the results that the advertiser wished to achieve.

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