These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of June 18-24, 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).
Slavery Advertisements Published June 18-24, 1767: By Date
Slavery Advertisements Published June 18-24, 1767: By Region
What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Returns his hearty thanks to those gentlemen and ladies who have favoured him with their custom.”
Richard Fowler, an upholsterer and paperhanger, assisted residents of Charleston in adorning their homes. He sold a variety of decorative arts, including hardware to decorate chests and desk drawers as well as paper hangings (today known as wallpaper), both patterned or with landscape scenes. At the same time that shopkeepers marketed all sorts of housewares for colonists to decorate their personal spaces, Fowler provided means for transforming those spaces by updating the appearances of walls and furniture. Upholstery and paper hangings garnered immediate attention, while the “baubles of Britain” might more easily be overlooked or have less impact.
Acquiring paper hangings and upholstery thus represented both an important choice and a significant investment. Visually, both drew the eye, setting the tone for any room and creating a first impression that testified to the tastes of the residents. Prospective customers wanted to create settings where they felt comfortable, but they also wished to impress visitors and communicate their own style and awareness of current fashions.
To that end, Fowler did not merely supply and install upholstery and paper hangings. Instead, he also took on some of the duties of an eighteenth-century interior decorator, assisting clients in choosing upholstery and paper hangings that best suited them. Note that he described both patterned and landscape paper hangings as “genteel.” Exercising such responsibility required some amount of trust. To gain new patrons, Fowler needed to demonstrate that previous customers had indeed entrusted him to provide such services. He did so by extending “his hearty thanks to those gentlemen and ladies who have favoured him with their custom” and pledged to “merit it by his care and assiduity.” Through extending this invitation to former customers, Fowler implied that he had an active clientele. Regardless of whether previous customers engaged his services again, his advertisement suggested to prospective new customers that Fowler’s services were popular among local “gentlemen and ladies” because he delivered both quality and refinement.
What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“She undertakes to make and mend Men’s Leather Shoes.”
Elizabeth Shaw, “Shoe-Maker, from Europe,” was not the only woman who placed a newspaper advertisement for consumer goods and services in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today. Mary Hill also inserted a commercial notice in the Boston Post-Boy, informing potential customers that she sold a “Variety of Millinary.” Priscilla Manning informed readers of the Boston Evening-Post that she carried a “Variety of English & India GOODS” at her shop. In other colonies, Mary Maylem’s advertisement for a “neat Assortment of fashionable GOODS” appeared in the Newport Mercury. The Widow Hays hawked “ALL Sorts of PICKLES … with several Sorts of SWEET MEATS” in the New-York Gazette while Margaret Collins and Elizabeth Bevan each placed her own advertisement for “Gentlemen Lodgers” in the New-York Mercury. Mrs. Adams did not place a separate advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette, but writing master William Adams indicated near the end of his notice that “Mrs. Adams will teach young ladies to sew” and planned to acquire “a compleat assortment of millinary” to retail on her own.
Shaw joined the ranks of other women who entered the marketplace by inserting an advertisement in the public prints, but the nature of her business differed from the other women who advertised on the same day. Among those who sold goods, Manning and Maylem operated shops where they sold all kinds of imported goods, but especially textiles and housewares. Hill specialized in selling millinery and also made her own hats to sell to other women. Hays provided food to her customers. Collins, Bevan, and Adams extended their domestic responsibilities into business endeavors, the first two taking in boarders and Adams teaching girls to sew. Although they all entered the marketplace, these women followed occupations deemed appropriate to their gender. Shaw, on the other hand, practiced a trade more often associated with men, though not their exclusive domain. She did not limit herself to predominantly female clients, but instead made and repaired “Men’s Leather Shoes” as well. The other female advertisers demonstrated what was probable when it came to women’s occupations in colonial America, but Shaw’s advertisement testified to what was possible.
What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“Will be sold 10 per cent. under the common advance.”
John Davies paid attention to quality and, especially, price in his advertisement for imported Irish linens and other textiles in the South-Carolina and American General Gazette. He encouraged customers to buy in volume as a means of lowering prices as he targeted retailers who needed “to supply themselves … to sell again.” Although he did not specify specific rates for most of his goods, he did offer some numbers that would have been attractive to potential customers looking to acquire inventory and turn a profit themselves.
For instance, he stated that he “sold 10 per cent. under the common advance.” He assumed that potential customers already had a general sense of the going rates for the various sorts of textiles he sold, enticing them with the savings he offered compared to what they otherwise expected to pay. To sweeten the deal, he also promoted “the advantage of 5 per cent. being allowed in the purchase of them for prompt payment.” In other words, as he stated later in the advertisement, those “who purchase with cash” rather than credit stood to enjoy an additional discount that made his prices even more competitive. Davies implied further discounts for buying in bulk – “still greater allowance that will be made in taking a quantity” – although he did not offer specifics. The size of the subsequent discount may have been tied to the quantity purchased, subject to negotiations between Davies and his customers at the time of sale.
How was Davies able to offer low prices and significant discounts? He had cultivated relationships directly with the manufacturers, sidestepping English merchants who usually supplied American wholesalers and retailers. There had been “no charge of commissions” to other parties to drive up Davies’s prices. He also kept costs down by making his own purchases in cash rather than credit that accumulated interest. He passed his savings on to his customers in Charleston.