What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“A COMPLEAT and ENTIRELY NEW Assortment Of the best PRINTING MATERIALS.”
Timothy Green, the printer of the New-London Gazette, made an important announcement about his business in the November 12, 1773, edition of his newspaper. He proclaimed that he “Has just IMPORTED from LONDON, A COMPLEAT and ENTIRELY NEW Assortment Of the best PRINTING MATERIALS.” New type and other equipment would enhance not only the newspaper, making it more attractive for both subscribers and advertisers, but also books, pamphlets, almanacs, and blanks produced in his printing office. In addition, he sought orders for broadsides, handbills, and other job printing. With the arrival of these “best PRINTING MATERIALS,” Green “hopes that the kind of Encouragement of the PUBLIC will not be wanting.” He was ready to serve clients, giving “his constant Attention to please them.”
The savvy printer just happened to place the most ornate of all the advertisements in that issue of the New-London Gazetteimmediately below his own notice. A border made of decorative type enclosed an advertisement in which David Gardiner, Jr., offered cash for “Small Furrs, Bees-Wax, old Brass, Copper, and Pewter” and hawked a “good ASSORTMENT of Ship-Chandlery Ware, Groceries of all Kinds, an Assortment of Glass and Stone Ware,” and other merchandise. The distinctive advertisement demonstrated to prospective clients that they could place their own notices that featured visual elements designed to attract attention. It also presented possibilities for broadsides, handbills, catalogs, billheads, blanks, and other job printing orders.
Gardiner’s advertisement ran in the next issue of the New-London Gazette, but it was no longer the only one with a decorative border. In a new advertisement, Peabody Clement promoted imported goods “JUST COME TO HAND.” Green or one of the compositors in his shop selected different printing ornaments for Clement’s advertisement than those in Gardiner’s notice. That distinguished the notices from each other, while also displaying some of the range of new types in Green’s printing office. Perhaps Clement saw the printer’s announcement and Gardiner’s advertisement in the November 12 edition and that helped convince him to place his own notice and influenced his decision about the format.