June 29

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

Boston Evening-Post (June 29, 1772).

“Not one single Article in the Store was bought of any Merchant in this Country.”

William Jackson regularly placed advertisements in several newspapers published in Boston in the late 1760s and early 1770s.  In addition to those notices, he distributed a trade card, engraved by Paul Revere, that depicted the “BRAZEN HEAD” that marked his location “next ye Town House.”  He eventually marketed his shop with another name, calling it “Jackson’s Variety Store” to call attention to the array of choices he made available to consumers.  In his newspaper notices and on his trade card, Jackson listed some of his merchandise.  In a notice in the June 29, 1772, edition of the Boston Evening-Post, for instance, he promoted a “full and compleat Assortment of English, India & Hard-Ware GOODS, consisting of Cloths of all Kinds, Linnens of all sorts, Calicoes, … Brass Kettles, London and Bristol Pewter, … an elegant Assortment of Looking-Glasses, Paper Hangings, [and] Wilton and Scotch Carpets.”

In a note at the end of that notice, Jackson assured “Wholesale and Retail Customers” that they “may depend that not one single Article in the Store was bought of any Merchant in this Country.”  Instead, he imported his wares directly “from the BEST Hands in ENGLAND, via LONDON, BRISTOL, and LIVERPOOL.”  That allowed him to sell his inventory “extremely Cheap” because he did not deal with middlemen on either side of the Atlantic.  Going to the manufacturers rather than through merchants meant that he could pass along savings to his customers rather than marking up goods as much as his competitors.  Jackson apparently considered this an effective marketing strategy.  A year earlier, he informed prospective customers that he “has been in England himself the last Winter, and has visited most of the manufacturing towns.”  As a result of that trip, Jackson “flatters himself that he has his Goods upon as good Terms as any Merchant in the Town.”  In a subsequent advertisement, he asserted, “Wholesale and retail Customers may depend upon having goods” at his store “as cheap as at any store or stop in town, without exceptions, as all his goods are from the best hands in England.”  If Jackson did not believe that this appeal resonated with consumers then he probably would not have published so many variations of it.  Many merchants and shopkeepers combined appeals about low prices and extensive choices.  Jackson devised a means of making those appeals distinctive.  He did not merely claim to offer low prices but also explained how he was able to do so.

June 22

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

Boston Evening-Post (June 22, 1772).

“A great Variety of European & India Goods.”

Many advertisers sought to convince prospective customers that they offered an array of choices to meet their tastes and budgets.  In the June 22, 1772, edition of the Boston Evening-Post, Timothy Newell promoted his “general Assortment of Hard Ware Goods.”  John Nazro hawked a “general Assortment of English, India, Irish and Scotch GOODS” and a “great Variety of Cutlery & Braziery Wares; with all Sorts of West-India Goods, Spices and other Groceries.”  Smith and Atkinson announced that they carried a large and very general Assortment of Piece GOODS.”  William Jackson even named his shop “Jackson’s Variety Store.”

Among the merchants and shopkeepers who made appeals to consumer choice in that edition of the Boston Evening-Post, William Scott published the lengthiest advertisement in an effort to demonstrate many of the different kinds of merchandise available at his “IRISH LINNEN Store.”  He listed dozens of items, from “Strip’d and flower’d bordered Aprons and Handkerchiefs” to “a variety of Ebony and Ivory paddle-stick & Leather Mount Fans” to “blue and white, red and white, green & white Furniture Checks with Nonesopretties to match” to “a variety of plain and striped and sprigg’d Muslins, such as Jaconets, Mull-Mulls, Mainsooks, Golden Cossacs, strip’d Doreas, and Book Muslins.”  The names of some textiles may seem unfamiliar to modern readers, but colonizers immersed in the consumer revolution readily identified Scott’s merchandise.  For some of these items, Scott offered an even larger selection, using descriptions like a “variety,” a “large assortment,” a “great variety,” and an “elegant assortment” to indicate that he often listed categories of goods rather than individual items.

In their advertisement, Smith and Atkinson declared it “would be equally tedious and unnecessary to enumerate” their inventory.  Scott disagreed … and he was willing to pay for the additional space necessary to transform his newspaper advertisement into a miniature catalog that accompanied the news in that issue of the Boston Evening-Post.  That did not stop him from adapting the strategy deployed by Smith and Atkinson.  Scott proclaimed that in addition to those items that he listed in his advertisement he also had “too great a Variety of small Goods to be inserted in this Advertisement.”  Where Smith and Atkinson signaled exasperation with lists of goods, Scott expressed disappointment that he could not provide an even more elaborate accounting of his merchandise for his customers.

Scott apparently considered this strategy worth the investment.  He ran the same advertisement in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter and the Massachusetts Spy, thus placing it in three of the five newspapers published in Boston at the time.  He presumably expected an appropriate return on his investment or else he would have followed the lead of competitors who composed much shorter advertisement.  Scott encouraged consumers to imagine the many and varied choices that awaited them at his store, but he did not leave it solely to their imaginations.  He prompted them with a catalog of his wares in hopes that they would visit his shop to see for themselves.

June 1

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

Boston Evening-Post (June 1, 1772).

“He fears that some Folks would call it Puffing.”

Recently the Adverts 250 Project featured Andrew Dexter’s advertisement to examine the type seemingly set in one printing office and transferred to others, but the copy merits attention as well.  Dexter attempted to entice prospective customers into his shop with a notice that mocked and dismissed many of the most popular marketing strategies of the period.

He began by stating that he sold ‘GOODS of various Sorts, fresh and new, from different Ports, but then refused to give details or elaborate.  Many merchants and shopkeepers gave that information.  Dexter critiqued the practice, proclaiming that he could mention the Ships by which he received them, and the Names of the respective Commanders; but most People know that this would not affect either the Quality or Price.”

Dexter then turned to other common elements of advertisements for imported goods.  “He could assert, that they were bought with ready Money, came immediately from the Manufacturers, and are the best of the several Kinds that were ever imported.”  Wanting it both ways, he implied that all of that was the case, but then called into question all of the advertisements that deployed such strategies.  “All of this he could say.– All of this, indeed, is easily said.”  He then leveled his most trenchant critique of a popular marketing strategy.  “But if he should add, that Shopkeepers might have his English Goods as cheap as from the Merchants in London, he fears that some Folks would call it Puffing, & others would give it even a worse Name.”

He continued to imply that he offered bargain prices without stating that he did so.  “If his Goods are cheaper than they are sold at any other Shop in Town, ‘tis abundantly sufficient.  He will not, however, roundly affirm any such Thing.”  Only after deriding the appeals made by his competitors in their advertisements did Dexter definitively present a reason for readers to visit his shop.  “He only wishes good People, Country Shopkeepers in particular, as they pass along, would be kind enough to call, and inform themselves.”  Figuring prospective customers engaged in comparison shopping, he acknowledged that they ultimately made decisions based on the information they gathered, no matter how much “Puffing” he included in his advertisements.

Ultimately, Dexter sought to build relationships with prospective customers, whether or not they bought anything the first time they visited his shop.  “After they have viewed every Article he has got, tho’ they should not then chuse to purchase even one of them,” he confided, “he will nevertheless own himself under great Obligations, and will kindly thank them for having given him Reason to hope, that, at some future Time, they will favor him with their Custom.”  Dexter prioritized prospective customers giving him the opportunity to serve them, now or in the future, over any of the usual appeals merchants and shopkeepers made about imported goods.  To underscore his intention, he jeered at the claims made in other advertisements, though he never denied that they also applied to his own merchandise.  He encouraged prospective customers to decide for themselves.

May 25

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (May 25, 1772).

“ALLEN … will sell … at a very little more than the Sterling Cost.”

Jolley Allen made his advertisements in the Boston Evening-Post, the Boston Gazette, the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy, and the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter easy to recognize in the spring of 1772.  Each of them featured a border comprised of ornamental type that separated Allen’s notices from other content.  Allen previously deployed this strategy in 1766 and then renewed it in the May 21, 1772, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  Four days later, advertisements with identical copy and distinctive borders ran in three other newspapers printed in town.  Allen apparently gave instructions to the compositors at the Boston Evening-Post and the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy.  Those advertisements had copy identical to the notice in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, but the compositors made different decisions about the format (seen most readily in the border of Allen’s advertisement in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy).  Allen’s advertisement in the Boston-Gazette, however, had exactly the same copy and format as the one in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  For some of their advertisements, newspapers in Boston apparently shared type already set in other printing offices.

That seems to have been the case with Andrew Dexter’s advertisement.  He also included a border around his notice in the May 21 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  The same advertisement ran in the Boston Evening-Post four days later.  It looks like this was another instance of transferring type already set from one printing office to another.  The compositor for the Boston Evening-Post may have very carefully replicated the format of Dexter’s advertisement that ran in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly Mercury, but everything looks too similar for that to have been the case.  In particular, an irregularity in closing the bottom right corner of the border suggests that the printing offices shared the type once a compositor set it.  They might have also shared with the Boston-Gazette.  Dexter’s advertisement also ran in that newspaper on May 25.  It had the same line breaks and italics as Dexter’s notices in the other two newspapers.  The border looks very similar, but does not have the telltale irregularity in the lower right corner.  Did the compositor make minor adjustments?

It is important to note that these observations are based on examining digitized copies of the newspapers published in Boston in 1772.  Consulting the originals might yield additional details that help to clarify whether two or more printing offices shared type when publishing these advertisements.  At the very least, the variations in Allen’s advertisements make clear that he intentionally pursued a strategy of using borders to distinguish his advertisements in each newspaper that carried them.  The extent that Dexter meant to do the same or simply benefited from the printing offices sharing type remains to be seen after further investigation.

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Left to Right: Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly Mercury (May 21, 1772); Boston-Gazette (May 25, 1772); Boston Evening-Post (May 25, 1772); Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (May 25, 1772).

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Left to Right: Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (May 21, 1772); Boston Evening-Post (May 25, 1772); Boston-Gazette (May 25, 1772).

April 29

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

Boston-Gazette (April 27, 1772).

“Oils … Paints … Varnishes … GUMS.”

John Gore and Son’s advertisement in the April 27, 1772, edition of the Boston-Gazette raises all sorts of interesting questions.  An identical advertisement appeared in the April 23 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  This does not seem to have been just a case of an advertiser inserting the same notice in multiple newspapers.  That was quite common in the 1770s, especially in Boston.  Yet this was not simply an instance of an advertiser writing out the copy more than once and then submitting it to more than one printing office.  Yes, the copy was identical … but so was the format and every aspect of typography, from the design of the table listing different kinds of paints to the line breaks to font sizes to capitalization of certain words.  Rather than a compositor copying an advertisement as it appeared in another newspaper, this looks like Richard Draper’s printing office outright transferred type already set for the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter to Benjamin Edes and John Gill’s printing office for publication in the Boston-Gazette.

That was not the only instance of such a transfer in the April 27 edition of the Boston-Gazette.  John Barrett and Sons ran an extensive advertisement that previously appeared in Draper’s newspaper on April 23.  So did Joseph Peirce.  To further complicate matters, both of these advertisements also ran in the April 27 edition of the Boston Evening-Post. Once again, this does not seem to have been merely an instance of a compositor consulting an advertisement in another newspaper when setting type.  Instead, the type from one printing office found its way to another printing office.

The placement of these advertisements on the page in each newspaper contributes to some confusion about the sequence of events.  Take into consideration that a standard issue consisted of four pages created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and then folding it in half.  Printers often printed the front and back pages first, filling them with the masthead, colophon, and advertisements.  They saved the second and third pages for the latest news.  Peirce’s advertisement ran on the fourth page of the April 27 edition of the Boston-Gazette, suggesting that the compositor received the type from the April 23 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly Mercury fairly quickly.  That also allowed sufficient time to pass along the type to the Boston-Evening Post for inclusion in a two-page supplement that consisted entirely of advertising.  That timing makes sense.

The timing for inserting Barrett and Sons’ advertisement in each newspaper, however, does not seem as clear.  It ran on the first page of the April 27 edition of the Boston-Gazette, printed at the same time that Peirce’s advertisement was printed on the fourth page.  It did not, however, run in the supplement to the Boston Evening-Post or even on the second or third pages among the last items inserted in the standard issue.  Instead, it appeared on the fourth page, presumably making it one of the first items printed for that issue.  The compositor did eliminate the final eight lines listing several imported goods in order to make the advertisement fit among the other content on the page, but did not make other alterations.  That someone transferred the type from one printing office to another so quickly for it to appear in the Boston-Gazette and the Boston Evening-Post on the same day suggests a very efficient operation.

This raises questions about the organization and collaboration between printing offices.  Who assumed the responsibility for transferring the type for these advertisements from one printing office to another?  Did they make sure that the type was returned to its original printing office?  Did any of the printing offices adjust the prices they charged for running these advertisements based on whether they invested time and labor in setting type?  How extensive were these practices of transferring type from one printing office to another?  These are all questions that merit further investigation.

Left: Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (April 23, 1772). Right: Boston-Gazette (April 27, 1772).

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Left: Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (April 23, 1772). Center: Boston-Gazette (April 27, 1772). Right: Boston Evening-Post (April 27, 1772).

April 27

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

Boston Evening-Post (April 27, 1772).

“ENGLISH GOODS of all Sorts, At Francis Green’s Store, (Cheap).”

Purveyors of goods and services used a variety of design strategies in their efforts to get prospective customers to take note of their advertisements in the April 27, 1772, edition of the Boston Evening-Post.  Some emphasized consumer choice by publishing advertisements that took up significant space by listing the merchandise they sold.  Richard Jennys did so in a notice that was about as long as it was wide.  He listed a couple of dozen items in a dense paragraph of text.  Joseph Peirce also opted for a dense paragraph that enumerated his inventory, but his advertisement extended half a column.  John Frazier and Margaret Philips both inserted paragraphs of moderate length, occupying more space on the page than Jennys but less than Peirce.  The amount of text was part of the message.

Other merchants and shopkeepers who resorted to lists attempted to use graphic design to their benefit in a different way.  They divided their advertisements into columns, listing only one or two items per line in order to make them easier for prospective customers to navigate.  Since advertisers paid by the amount of space rather than the number of words, that meant they paid more to advertiser fewer items than their competitors who opted for paragraphs rather than columns, but they apparently considered it worth the investment.  John Cunningham, Ward Nicholas Boylston, and Herman and Andrew Brimmer all ran advertisements that included dozens of items arranged in advertisements divided into two columns.

Other advertisers emphasized the visual aspects of their notices to an even greater degree.  A woodcut depicting a mortar and pestle adorned Oliver Smith’s advertisement for “Drugs & Medicines” at his shop “At the GOLDEN MORTAR.”  Duncan Ingraham, Jr. relied on typography rather than images, arranging a short list of goods to form a diamond.  Joseph Barrell also created white space to draw attention by listing a few items on each line and centering them.  His lines of varying lengths did not look nearly as crowded as the paragraphs in other advertisements.  Francis Green limited his advertisement to ten words (“ENGLISH GOODS of all Sorts, At Francis Green’s Store, (Cheap)”), but deployed decorative type to form a border.  That made his notice particularly distinctive since no other advertiser adopted that strategy.  It also helped that his advertisement appeared in the middle of the page.  The border likely drew readers’ eyes away from the advertisements on the outer edges in favor of the middle, at least when first perusing the page.

Graphic design in early American newspapers may appear unsophisticated by modern standards, but that does not mean that colonizers did not attempt to leverage graphic design in marketing goods and services.  Within a single issue of the Boston Evening-Post, advertisers made a variety of choices about the visual aspects of their notices, some of them rather innovative for the period.

April 22

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (April 20, 1772).

“Infants Morocco Shoes, and / Pumps, Womens / Lynn made / Ditto.”

Duncan Ingraham, Jr., hoped that the format of his advertisement would help to draw attention to the goods that he imported from London and sold at his shop on Union Street in Boston in the spring of 1772.  Most merchants and shopkeepers who advertised in the newspapers published in the bustling port city adopted one of two methods of listing their merchandise.  They either included everything in a single dense paragraph or they divided their advertisement into columns with one item per line.  Ingraham rejected both in favor of arranging his list of goods in the shape of a diamond. Such an unusual format almost certainly caught the eyes of readers as they perused the Boston Evening-Post and the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy.

A variation of Ingraham’s advertisement appeared in both newspapers.  The notices contained nearly identical copy, but the compositors made different decisions about line breaks for both the introduction that gave directions to Ingraham’s shop and the diamond that listed the goods.  When he wrote out the advertisement by hand, Ingraham may have experimented with creating a diamond.  Alternately, he may have submitted instructions about his preferences and left it to the compositors to figure out the particulars.  Either way, Ingraham likely provided some sort of guidance for the compositors.  They did not independently decide to introduce the same innovation into his advertisement in two newspapers.

In most cases, eighteenth-century advertisers played little role in designing their advertisements beyond writing the copy, but Ingraham more actively assumed responsibility for some of the visual aspects of his notice.  He apparently did not consider his advertisement a mere announcement that he carried certain goods.  Instead, he sought to shape his advertisement in a manner likely to increase the chances that prospective customers would take note of it and the various appeals to low prices and good customer service he included in the introduction.

April 20

GUEST CURATOR: Victoria Ostrowski

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

Boston Evening-Post (April 20, 1772).

Ladies SILKS of the newest Fashion.”

In this advertisement, Thomas Lee sold a variety of goods imported from England. The ones that stood out the most to me were the “Ladies SILKS of the newest Fashion.” I was interested in finding more about silks because I wanted to know more about women’s fashion in the colonial era. I discovered that the materials used to make women’s clothing changed during the eighteenth century. According to the “Fashion History Timeline” from the Fashion Institute of Technology, “The heavy, brocaded, lushly floral silks of the mid-century were superseded by silks that were both lighter in weight and simpler in design, heralding ‘the advent of Neo-Classicism.’ In the first half of the 1770s, motifs shrank significantly and ‘the vertical element of the of the late 1760s proliferated in the early 1770s into clusters of broad and narrow stripes.’ By the middle of the decade, ‘the clustered stripes had all but disappeared and, instead … [they were absolutely regular in width.” Fashions for women seemed to enter a new age of design every couple of years! Thomas Lee advertised “a most elegant Assortment” of “Ladies SILKS,” allowing for colonial women to dress in “the newest Fashions.”

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: Carl Robert Keyes

Along with price and quality, eighteenth-century advertisers frequently made appeals to fashion as they attempted to incite demand for the goods they sold.  Merchants and shopkeepers, tailors and milliners all tried to convince prospective customers that they could outfit them in current styles.  As Tori notes, Thomas Lee promoted his “Supply of Ladies SILKS of the newest Fashions” in an advertisement that ran in the April 20, 1772, edition of Boston Evening-Post.  Elsewhere in the same issue, Cyrus Baldwin advertised a “large and neat Assortment of English and India Goods” that included “LADIES newest-fashioned bonnets” and other items.  The proprietors of the Irish Linen Warehouse on King Street informed readers that they stocked a “Variety of the most elegant Copper-Plate printed Muslins for Ladies Summer Wear, much esteemed at present among the most fashionable People in England.”  John Barrett and Sons published an extensive catalog of goods available at their shop, underscoring fashion in the first two entries: “New fashion brown, purple, green & blue English Damasks” and “Very fashionable & genteel brocaded & striped, changeable cloth color’d, white, grey and black Mantuas & Lutestrings.”

As these examples make clear, purveyors of textiles, garments, and all sorts of accessories knew that prospective customers did not measure fashion solely in terms of the styles they saw others wearing in the colonies.  Instead, consumers looked across the Atlantic for cues, seeking to demonstrate that they shared the sophisticated tastes of genteel men and women who shopped in London and pursued cosmopolitan lifestyles in town and country.  Those tastes evolved quickly, as Tori discovered in her research.  How quickly they evolved was one of the defining features of the consumer revolution of the eighteenth century.  On both sides of the Atlantic, consumers updated their wardrobes much more frequently than they did a century earlier, fueled by a preoccupation with fashion and a desire to display their own status and good taste.  That gave Lee and other advertisers greater leverage in their interactions with prospective customers, enticing them with “the newest Fashions” to get consumers into their shops.

April 13

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

Boston Evening-Post (April 13, 1772).

“A Select Collection of Letters Of the late Reverend GEORGE WHITEFIELD.”

It was one of the biggest news stories of the year.  George Whitefield died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on September 30, 1770.  The next day, newspapers in Boston informed colonizers of the death of one of the most influential ministers associated with the eighteenth-century religious revivals now known as the Great Awakening.  Over the next several weeks, news spread throughout New England and to other colonies as printers exchanged newspapers and reprinted coverage from one to another.  Those printers also sensed an opportunity to generate revenues by producing and marketing broadsides, funeral sermons, and books that commemorated the minister’s death.  Throughout the colonies, but especially in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, printers advertised commemorative items as they continued to publish updates about how colonizers near and far reacted to the news of Whitefield’s death.

Such advertising declined by the end of the year, but experienced a resurgence in the spring of 1771 when ships from England arrived in American ports with commemorative books and pamphlets published on the other side of the Atlantic.  Printers and booksellers encouraged colonizers to participate in another round of commodifying Whitefield.  That lasted for a couple of months before mentions of the minister faded from advertisements in the public print.  That did not mean, however, that entrepreneurs believed that the market for such commodities had disappeared, only that it was no longer so robust.  In the spring of 1772, Thomas Fleet and John Fleet, printers of the Boston Evening-Post, advertised “A Select Collection of Letters Of the late Reverend GEORGE WHITEFIELD … Written to his most intimate Friends, and Persons of Distinction, in England, Scotland, Ireland, and America.”  The minister wrote those letters between 1734 and 1770, “including the whole of his Ministry.”  In addition, the three-volume set contained “an Account of the Orphan House in Georgia” founded by Whitefield.  In an advertisement in the April 13, 1772, editions of the Boston Evening-Post and the Boston-Gazette, the Fleets indicated that they “Just received” the books “by the last Ship from London.”  Printers in England continued producing Whitefield memorabilia.  Apparently believing that demand existed or could be cultivated for such materials on both sides of the Atlantic, they presented consumers with another opportunity to acquire printed items associated with the minister.

April 6

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

Boston Evening-Post (April 6, 1772).

“At the GOLDEN MORTAR … A compleat and fresh Assortment of Drugs & Medicines.”

Very few images appeared in the April 6, 1772, edition of the Boston Evening-Post.  The masthead ran on the first page, as usual, featuring a cartouche with an ornate border enclosing an image of a crown suspended over a heart.  Immediately below, the colophon stated that the newspaper was “Printed by THOMAS and JOHN FLEET, at the HEART and CROWN in Cornhill.”  Readers encountered only two other images in that issue, both of them adorning advertisements on the second page.  A woodcut depicting a ship at sea embellished a notice that announced the London would soon sail for London.  It helped draw attention to instructions for anyone interested in “Freight or Passage [to] apply to the Captain on board, or to Nath. Wheatley’s Store in King-Street.”

That woodcut belonged to the printers, Thomas Fleet and John Fleet.  The woodcut that accompanied Oliver Smith’s advertisement, however, did not.  It depicted a mortar and pestle, replicating Smith’s shop sign, “the GOLDEN MORTAR,” in the same way the image in the masthead represented the sign that marked the Fleets’ printing office.  The Fleets and other printers supplied a small number of woodcuts – ships at sea, houses, horses, enslaved people – for eighteenth-century advertisers to include in their newspaper notices.  If advertisers wished for specialized images associated exclusively with their businesses, they commissioned the woodcuts and provided them to the printers.  That also meant they could retrieve their woodcuts from one printing office and submit them to another.

Smith did so in the early 1770s.  His woodcut depicting a mortar and pestle enhanced an advertisement in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter in the fall of 1771.  More than half a year later, the same woodcut appeared in an advertisement in the Boston Evening-Post.  Not only did Smith attempt to widen his share of the market for “Drugs & Medicines” in Boston by advertising in multiple newspapers, he also sought to increase the visibility of the device associated with his shop.  The “GOLDEN MORTAR” served as a rudimentary trademark or brand that made his advertisements and his shop easy for consumers to identify.