What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“A Variety of Cabinet-Work … of the newest Fashion and neatest Construction, such as were never offered for Sale in this Province before.”
Richard Magrath’s upcoming furniture sale was going to be an event, at least according to the advertisement that appeared in the supplement that accompanied the June 14, 1773, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette. The venue, “Mr. PIKE’s LONG ROOM,” where the dancing master gave lessons and hosted balls, set the tone for the sale of a “Variety of Cabinet-Work” that included “SOPHAS, French Chairs, Conversation Stools, and Easy-Chairs, of the newest Fashion and neatest Construction.”
Magrath aimed to generate excitement and interest by creating a buzz about the sale. He proclaimed that “the Gentry may be assured, that it will be the greatest Sale of neat Cabinet-Work ever known in this Place,” a spectacle not to be missed because furniture of such elegance and quality had “never [been] offered for Sale in this Province before.” Magrath included an eighteenth-century version of humblebragging to entice prospective customers to attend the sale. “The Subscriber omits giving any further Encomiums on the Construction and Neatness of the different Articles,” he proclaimed, “as he doubts not of meeting with general Approbation, from the great Encouragement and repeated Favours he has already received from most of the First Families in the Province.” In other words, Magrath declared that he had already earned a reputation among “the Gentry” for providing them with furniture of the highest quality and the most current tastes. He also suggested that prospective customers could enhance their status by acquiring furniture at his sale, thus joining the “First Families” or most genteel and elite colonizers in South Carolina.
Magrath also laid the groundwork for future sales, confiding that he “intends to have a Sale of neat Cabinent-Work annually.” He demanded that readers to take note, pledging that he “will always be supplied with the newest Fashions in this Branch” as a result of “his Connection in London,” the most cosmopolitan city in the empire. For the moment, prospective buyers could examine the items offered at the upcoming sale during viewings at Magrath’s house, selecting which they hoped to purchase at the auction in Pike’s Long Room. Through both advertisements and viewings, Magrath wanted to generate excitement about his elegant furniture, hoping that the excitement would compound itself before and during the sale.