What was advertised in a colonial. American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“The only true and correct ALMANACKS from my Copy, are those printed by R. Draper, Edes & Gill, and T. & [J.] Fleet.”
As 1772 came to an end and the new year approached, Richard Draper, Benjamin Edes and John Gill, and Thomas Fleet and John Fleet continued their efforts to direct prospective customers to the edition of Nathaniel Ames’s almanac for 1773 that they collaboratively printed and sold. The final issues of the Boston Evening-Post, the Boston-Gazette, and the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy for 1772 once again carried advertisements with a note from the almanac’s author that warned against counterfeit editions and proclaimed that the “only true and correct ALMANACKS from my Copy, are those printed by R. Draper, Edes & Gill, and T. & [J.] Fleet.”
None of those newspapers featured the extended version that ran in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter on December 24. The Fleets even ran a streamlined version in the Boston Evening-Post, eliminated the introductory lines that declared “THIS DAY IS PUBLISHED, And TO BE SOLD by R. DRAPER, T. & J. FLEET, and EDES & GILL” as well as the final lines that advised “Purchasers, especially by the Quantity, are requested to be particular in enquiring whether they are printed by the above Printers, of whom ALMANACKS may be had at the cheapest Rate.”
The version of the advertisement in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy remained unchanged, as did the version in the Boston-Gazette. Edes and Gill did not include any fanfare about “JUST PUBLISHED” the first time they inserted the note from Ames in the Boston-Gazette. They positioned that note just below local news, implying that it was just as much a piece of newsworthy information as an advertisement for an item they sold. Those printers pursued a similar strategy the next time they ran the notice. This time it did not serve as a transition from news to advertising. Instead, it was the only advertisement that appeared on second page of the December 28 edition of the Boston-Gazette, running immediately below news from Warsaw. That made it even more likely that anyone carefully perusing the news would encounter the notice from the printers. Taking advantage of their access to the press to shape how information was disseminated to reader-consumers, Edes and Gill continued their practice of treating counterfeit almanacs that competed with their “true and correct” almanacs as news the community needed to know. As part of their marketing efforts, they used the placement of the notice on the page to enhance their insinuation that consumers had a duty to choose the “true and correct” copies over any counterfeits.