August 22

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

Maryland Journal (August 20, 1773).

“He will be always ready to convey to his partner any new fashions.”

Just a few days before William Goddard distributed the inaugural issue of the Maryland Journal, the first newspaper published in Baltimore, Grant and Garritson, “TAYLORS from PHILADELPHIA,” submitted an advertisement to the printing office on Market Street.  Their advertisement was one of twenty that ran in the first issue of the newspaper.  About half of the notices promoted consumer goods and services.  Others included legal notices, real estate opportunities, an account of a lost bundle of papers, and a description of an indentured servant who ran away from his master.  Two advertisements concerned enslaved people, one seeking a young girl to purchase and the other offering a reward for the capture and return of Prince, an enslaved man who liberated himself and managed to elude his enslaver.  All in all, the advertisements in the Maryland Journal resembled those that ran in other newspapers throughout the colonies.

Grant and Garrison’s advertisement also looked similar to notices by tailors in other newspapers.  They stated that they “will be greatly obliged to all Gentlemen who will be pleased to favour them with their commands” and they pledged that their customers “may depend on having their work done in the neatest and most fashionable manner, with care and dispatch.”  With an economy of prose, Grant and Garritson made appeals to quality, fashion, customer service, and their own skill.  As many artisans did in their notices, the tailors also emphasized their previous experience working in another location, one known for its cosmopolitanism.  Tailors and others often described themselves as “from London” or “from Paris.”  In this instance, Grant and Garritson purposefully presented themselves as “TAYLORS from PHILADELPHIA,” the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the colonies.  Yet they did not merely possess a prior connection to that major urban port.  The tailors explained in a note at the end of their advertisement that Grant “resides and carries on the business in Philadelphia.”  That being the case, “he will be always ready to convey to his partner any new fashions, either in making or trimmings.”  Tailors, seamstresses, milliners, and others in the garment trades in Philadelphia and other port cities eagerly awaited news about new fashions from Europe.  Grant and Garritson provided a direct pipeline for disseminating that information to their clients in Baltimore, making sure that they kept pace with all the latest developments and perhaps even ahead of the curve compared to others colonizers who did not have tailors with such beneficial networks.  As Baltimore gained in prominence as a port and a center of commerce, Grant and Garrison offered their services in keeping their clients advised of the latest fashions so they could demonstrate their own influence.

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