What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“They intend carrying on their business in all its branches, as they have brought proper tools for that purpose.”
According to an advertisement they placed in the May 4, 1768, edition of the Georgia Gazette, William Sime and Jacob Moses had recently arrived in Savannah and planned to open their own shop in the small port city. They described themselves as “Goldsmith and Jewelers, from LONDON,” but did not indicate if they had migrated directly from the largest city in the empire or if they had practiced their trades in other cities before arriving in Georgia. For the purposes of marketing their services, establishing a connection to the cosmopolitan center of the British Atlantic world mattered most. It implied skill that arose from training and experience as well as familiarity with the most popular fashions.
Sime and Moses informed prospective customers that they were prepared for “carrying on their business in all its branches.” They had “brought proper tools for that purpose” when they moved to Savannah. That they considered it necessary to make this point in their brief advertisement suggests that they anticipated potential clients might be concerned not only about their skill but also whether they possessed the necessary implements to follow through on their pledge of “having their work executed in the neatest manner,” a standard appeal made by artisans of all sorts throughout the eighteenth century.
Many advertisements for consumer goods and services from the period appear indistinguishable at first glance, in part because many incorporated formulaic language to make many of the most common appeals to price, quality, fashion, or skill. Sime and Moses merely reiterated some phrases used in countless other advertisements: “in the neatest manner” and “at the shortest notice.” Yet their notice was not completely unoriginal. Although artisans frequently trumpeted their skill and the quality of their work, very few made reference to the set of specific tools they needed to pursue their craft “in all its branches.” Sime and Moses adapted other advertisements to suit their purposes by adding unique content specific to their trade and their personal circumstances.