July 25

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

Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer (July 22, 1773).


“MR. BATES PROPOSES to perform on Tuesday next, and on Friday the 30th instant, and no more, before he leaves this City.”  That brief advertisement in the July 22 edition of Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer put readers on notice that only limited opportunities remained to see Bates’s show.  From both his frequent advertisements in New York’s newspapers and the reputation that he cultivated in the city, most readers probably knew that Bates performed feats of horsemanship for the entertainment of his audiences.

New-York Journal (July 22, 1773).

A much longer advertisement in the New-York Journal on the same day deployed the usual headline, “HORSEMANSHIP,” and described him as “The ORIGINAL PERFORMER.”  Bates offered a spectacle of the “MANLY ARTS” that he previously performed for dignitaries that included “the Emperor of Germany, the Empress of Russia, the King of Great-Britain, the French King, the Kings of Prussia, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, and Poland, and the Prince of Orange.”  Bates confided that he “received the greatest applause” for those performances, “as can be made manifest by the CERTIFICATES from the several courts now in his possession.”  Readers did not have to take his word for it that he presented his feats of horsemanship to monarchs and aristocrats.  For a mere four shillings, colonizers in New York could gain access to the same exhibition enjoyed by royals and nobles, but they had to purchase tickets in advance because “No money will be taken at the Doors, nor Admittance without Tickets.”  Bates welcomed “Ladies and Gentlemen” and provided “proper” seating for their comfort, but requested that “Gentlemen will not suffer any dogs to come with them” for fear of scaring or distracting the horses.

A manicule drew attention to the same appeal that appeared in the other newspaper, though stated differently.  “Mr. Bates proposes, but twice more, before he leaves this City, to exhibit his Performances in Horsemanship,” the equestrian daredevil stated.  That being the case, he intended to sell “the Boards, Scantling, &c. at his riding Inclosure, together with the Benches, Rails, &c.”  Dismantling the venue underscored that audiences had only a limited time to witness Bates performing “on one, two, three and four Horses, at the Bulls-Head, in Bowery-Lane.”  They risked missing a performance that would “excel any Horseman that ever attempted any thing of the kind” if they hesitated and did not buy their tickets as soon as possible.

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