October 16

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

Oct 16 - 10:16:1767 Page 1 New-London Gazette
First Page of the New-London Gazette (October 16, 1767).

“MEIN, At the LONDON BOOK-STORE, North Side of KING-STREET, BOSTON.”

The Adverts 250 Project previously featured an extraordinary advertisement that John Mein placed in the New-London Gazette in the fall of 1767. Not only did Mein, a Boston bookseller, advertise in a distant newspaper, his advertisement occupied nearly two entire pages. That was a bold and innovative marketing strategy.

It was not a one-time gimmick. Mein placed a similar advertisement in the October 16, 1767, edition of the New-London Gazette, an advertisement that was even more elaborate than the previous one. The new version extended over six columns, two entire pages (with the exception of the masthead on the first page). Mein’s advertisement accounted for half of that issue of the newspaper, limiting the amount of space for news items and prompting the printer to insert a notice that “Advertisements omitted will be in our next.”

This new advertisement had another feature that distinguished it from the previous version. It appeared on the first and fourth pages of the four-page newspaper (rather than the final two pages). This meant that it was both the first and last item readers encountered when they read that issue of the New-London Gazette. In addition, if a reader held the open newspaper aloft to read the second and third pages, observers would glimpse only the first and last pages. From their perspective it would appear that the New-London Gazette contained nothing except Mein’s advertisement. Similarly, a closed copy of the newspaper sitting on a desk or table assumed the appearance of a broadsheet book catalogue since no other advertisements or news items would have been visible.

Theses visual aspects that depend on the material qualities of the newspaper might be overlooked when working with a copy bound into a volume with other issues of the New-London Gazette, a common practice for preserving and archiving eighteenth-century newspapers. Deprived of the ability to exist as a separate issue but instead reduced to four consecutive pages in a larger book, the transformed newspaper does not immediately suggest all of the visual characteristics that early American readers would have experienced. The same could also be said of digitized versions of the advertisement, each page completely disembodied from the others. The greater significance of Mein’s advertisement becomes apparent only upon contemplating how the form in which the New-London Gazette was originally delivered to readers, not just the format the issue happens to occupy in the twenty-first century.

Oct 16 - 10:16:1767 Page 4 New-London Gazette
Final Page of New-London Gazette (October 16, 1767).

 

Slavery Advertisements Published October 16, 1767

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter: @SlaveAdverts250.

Oct 16 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 16, 1767).

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Oct 16 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 16, 1767).

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Oct 16 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 16, 1767).

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Oct 16 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 16, 1767).

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Oct 16 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 16, 1767).

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Oct 16 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 16, 1767).

October 15

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

Oct 15 - 10:15:1767 Virginia Gazette
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

“MILLINERY … supplied on the shortest notices, by … M. and J. HUNTER.”

At a glance, this advertisement for a “GENTEEL ASSORTMENT of MILLINERY” placed by M. and J. Hunter in the October 15, 1767, issue of the Virginia Gazette seems to obscure the participation of women in the marketplace – and in the public prints – as retailers and producers, at least to modern readers who do not possess the same familiarity with Williamsburg in the 1760s as residents of the period.

Only upon close reading of the second paragraph does it become clear that M. and J. Hunter, the “humble servants” who imported and sold “all the materials for making hats and bonnets,” were women. Since milliners often tended to be women, some readers might have made this assumption as soon as they spotted the word “MILLINERY” in large, bold letters. Yet male shopkeepers and merchants, even if they did not work as milliners themselves, also imported, advertised, and sold millinery supplies to milliners and the general public. That the Hunters who placed the advertisement were women becomes clear when once states, “The subscriber having a sister just arrived from LONDON, who understands the millinery business, she hopes to carry it on to the satisfaction of those who shall favour them with their commands.” Here it becomes clear that the “subscriber,” the person who placed the notice, was a woman who went into business with a sister recently arrived in the colony: “The subscriber” referenced herself as “she.”

While it requires some special attention for the modern reader to identify M. and J. Hunter as female entrepreneurs, it would not have been as difficult for eighteenth-century readers who resided in Williamsburg. Note the careful attention to detail in the advertisement. The Hunters described their merchandise in detail, providing a long list of items as a means of signaling the wide array of choices available to consumers. They made appeals to gentility, fashion, and price. Yet they did not indicate where they operated their millinery shop. This suggests that the Hunters, especially the sister who already resided in Williamsburg for some time, believed that local readers of the Virginia Gazette already knew who they were and where to find them. The signature “M. and J. Hunter” alone does not reveal to modern readers that these milliners were women, but it would have been sufficient for contemporary residents of Williamsburg to immediately associate the advertisement with female entrepreneurs.

Slavery Advertisements Published October 15, 1767

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter: @SlaveAdverts250.

Oct 15 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - New-York Journal Slavery 2
New-York Journal (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - New-York Journal Slavery 3
New-York Journal (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - New-York Journal Slavery 4
New-York Journal (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - New-York Journal Slavery 5
New-York Journal (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - New-York Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Journal (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

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Oct 15 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette (October 15, 1767).

October 14

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

Oct 14 - 10:14:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

“Henry Steerman and Jonathan Remington, TAYLORS and PARTNERS.”

The advertisement placed by Henry Steerman and Jonathan Remington, as well as all of the other advertisements on the same page of the October 14, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette, creates a bit of a mystery for modern historian who consult databases of digitized newspapers to conduct their research. These advertisements appeared on the fifth page of that issue.

Why would this be a mystery? Most newspapers published in 1767 followed a standard format: four pages created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and folding it in half. Occasionally printers issued a supplement, either two (using half a broadsheet) or four pages (using an entire additional broadsheet). Usually these supplements had their own masthead that identified them as supplements, though sometimes they were inserted in the center of the newspaper without additional identification. Due to the scarcity of paper, printers carefully filled both sides of any supplement with news items, advertisements, or both, leaving no empty space. If they did not have enough material to issue an even number of pages – four, six, or eight – they inserted notes indicating that news items would be continued in the next issue or advertisements omitted would be in the next.

The Georgia Gazette rarely issued a supplement. The layout sometimes suggested that the printer had difficulty even filling four pages. On such occasions the advertisements featured generous amounts of white space in order to occupy as much space on the page as possible. That Steerman and Remington’s advertisement, along with twenty others, appeared on the fifth page of the Georgia Gazette was out of the ordinary. What was perplexing to this historian, however, was the absence of a sixth page in the database of digitized newspapers. It would have been extraordinary for the printer not to print on both sides of the sheet, yet the sixth page seemed to be missing. Even more curious, the fifth page did not have a masthead that identified it as a supplement. Had Steerman and Remington’s advertisement actually appeared on the fifth page? Or was it on the sixth page and the fifth page, for whatever reason, was missing from the database?

These questions could not be answered merely by examining the digital surrogates. I found definitive confirmation only when I visited the American Antiquarian Society to examine the original issue of the Georgia Gazette that had been photographed and later digitized by Readex. To my surprise, the October 14, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette did indeed consist of only five pages. More accurately, it consisted of five printed pages and a blank sixth page, but this was not at all evident from the database. It did not include a photograph of the blank sixth page to provide context and a complete record for researchers.

This points to two lessons when it comes to the creation and use of digital surrogates in historical research. First, digital surrogates should be used in addition to, rather than instead of, original sources. Digital surrogates are valuable resources that have made original documents much more accessible to historians, other scholars, and the general public, but sometimes they hide elements of the past rather than reveal them. They must be consulted with caution and with knowledge of what kinds of questions to also ask about original documents in order not to be misled by digitized ones.

Second, the example of the October 14, 1767, issue of the Georgia Gazette underscores the necessity of content providers, like Readex, consulting with librarians, archivists, historians, and other scholars who are familiar with the original sources and the most likely users of digital surrogates when designing and implementing databases. To a layperson unfamiliar with eighteenth-century newspapers it seemed unnecessary, wasteful, and perhaps even confusing to include a photo of a blank page of a newspaper. To someone who works with eighteenth-century newspapers, both original and digital surrogates, every day, the absence of a blank page in the database actually created confusion that could have been avoided.

Consulting the original issue of the October 14, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette cleared up the mystery about its original format, yet another mystery remains, one that will be much harder to solve. Given the scarcity of paper, why did the printer issue an additional halfsheet printed on only one side?

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published October 8-14, 1767

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of October 8-14, 1767.

Note:  These tables are as comprehensive as currently digitized sources permit, but they may not be an exhaustive account.  They includes all newspapers that have been digitized and made available via Accessible Archives, Colonial Williamsburg’s Digital Library, and Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers.  There are several reasons some newspapers may not have been consulted:

  • Issues that are no longer extant;
  • Issues that are extant but have not yet been digitized (including the Pennsylvania Journal); and
  • Newspapers published in a language other than English (including the Wochentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote).

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Slavery Advertisements Published October 8-14, 1767:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Date Oct 8

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Slavery Advertisements Published October 8-14, 1767:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Region Oct 8

Slavery Advertisements Published October 14, 1767

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter: @SlaveAdverts250.

Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 9
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 10
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 11
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 12
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 13
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).

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Oct 14 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 14
Georgia Gazette (October 14, 1767).