October 13

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (October 13, 1772).

“He continues to carry on the PAINTING and GLAZING BUSINESS.”

Colonial printers often resorted to publishing advertising supplements to accompany their weekly newspapers that featured both news and paid notices.  This was especially true for newspapers in the largest port cities, Boston, Charleston, New York, and Philadelphia.  Each standard issue consisted of four pages created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and then folding it in half.  When printers had sufficient additional content to justify the resources required to produce additional pages, they printed two- or four-page supplements.  Although news sometimes appeared in those supplements, additions, and extraordinary editions, they most often consisted of advertising.

That was not the case for the October 13, 1772, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal and the Addition that Charles Crouch distributed on the same day.  The bulk of the news appeared in the two-page Addition after Crouch devoted ten and a half of the twelve columns in the standard issue to paid notices, including more than a dozen that offered enslaved people for sale or offered rewards for the capture and return of enslaved people who liberated themselves by running away from those who held them in bondage.  Paid notices filled the entire first page below the masthead.  They also filled the entire third and fourth pages.  A short note, “For more London News, see the Addition,” appeared at the bottom of the first column of the second page, the only full column of news.  Halfway down the next column, a header for “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” alerted readers to the content on the remainder of the page.

The two-page Addition gave three times as much space to news compared to the standard issue.  News that arrived via London, most of it extracts from letters composed in various cities on the European continent, filled the first page and overflowed onto the second.  A short proclamation from the governor of the colony ran as local news midway through the second column on the other side of the sheet.  Crouch managed to squeeze in a few more advertisements, including one that promoted a “COMPLETE GERMAN GRAMMAR” that he sold at his printing office.  Instead of an advertising supplement that accompanied the newspaper, the Addition amounted to a news supplement that accompanied an advertising leaflet.  In many instances, colonial newspapers were vehicles for delivering advertising.  That was especially true of the October 13 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal and its Addition.

October 6

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (October 6, 1772).

“Advertisements omitted this Week, for want of Room, shall be in our next.”

Charles Crouch had more content than would fit in the September 29, 1772, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  To resolve the dilemma, he inserted a notice advising that “Sundry NEW ADVERTISEMENTS omitted this Week, in order to give Place to the LONDON NEWS, &c. shall have particular notice in our next.”  The following week, the October 6 edition consisted almost entirely of advertising.  A header for “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” ran at the top of the first column on the first page.  Advertisements filled all three columns on that page.  Another header for “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” appeared midway down the final column of the second page.  The first two and half columns featured news items, but the remainder of the second column as well as the entire third and fourth pages consisted entirely of advertising.  Crouch presumably made sure that “Sundry NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” that he omitted in the previous issue did indeed run in the October 6 edition.

Still, he found himself once again in the position of not having sufficient space to publish all of the advertisements received in the printing office.  He inserted a notice at the bottom of the final column on the third page: “Advertisements omitted this Week, for want of Room, shall be in our next.”  Why did the notice appear there instead of the bottom of the last page?  Understanding the process for producing newspapers on manually-operated presses reveals the answer.  A standard issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (and other colonial newspapers) consisted of four pages created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and then folding it in half.  Printers often produced the first and last pages first.  After the ink dried, they then printed the second and third pages on the other side of the sheet.  In his effort to give the advertisements omitted the previous week “particular Notice” in the October 6 edition, Crouch printed them first, placing them on the first page.  Other new advertisements also ran on the fourth page, interspersed with notices that appeared in previous editions.  Crouch made publishing all of those advertisements a priority.  He also made advertisements a priority for the second and third pages, though he realized that subscribers who expected to receive news would not be satisfied with an issue that served solely as a mechanism for delivering advertisements.  He opted for a couple of columns of news on the second page before filling the rest of the newspaper with advertisements.  The notice at the bottom of the final column on the third page would have been the last of the type set and placed into position for the October 6 edition once Crouch determined that he did not have space for all the advertisements he intended to publish.

Crouch did have other options.  He could have produced an advertising supplement to accompany the September 29 edition or the October 6 edition or both.  He may have decided, however, that he did not have enough additional content to warrant doing so.  He may not have had the time to print a supplement.  He may not have considered doing so worth the resources required.  He apparently believed that advertisers would be patient with a short delay, though he made certain to acknowledge that he owed them space in his newspaper.

September 29

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1772).

“Sundry NEW ADVERTISEMENTS omitted this Week, in order to Place to the LONDON NEWS, &c. shall have particular Notice taken of them in our next.”

Advertising could appear anywhere in colonial American newspapers, even on the front page.  In fact, some newspapers often devoted the entire front page to the masthead and advertising.  Others placed both news and advertising on the front page.  The distribution of items selected by the printer and paid notices submitted by advertisers varied from week to week in many newspapers.

Such was the case for the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, printed by Charles Crouch.  Consider the September 29, 1772, edition.  Like other issues, it consisted of four pages crested by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and folding it in half.  The first two pages contained news from London that arrived earlier in the week.  The shipping news from the customs house indicated that the Mermaid from London entered port on September 24.  The New Market, also from London, arrived a day later.  That gave Crouch plenty of time to receive newspapers and letters from both ships, read through them, and choose which items to print before publishing a new weekly edition on September 29.  He reserved advertising for the third and fourth pages, marking some notices with a header for “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS.”

Crouch also inserted a note to alert readers (and advertisers searching for their notices) that “Sundry NEW ADVERTISEMENTS omitted this Week, in order to Place to the LONDON NEWS, &c. shall have particular Notice taken of them in our next.”  What constituted “particular notice” beyond making sure to publish them at all?  No news appeared on the front page of the October 6 edition.  Instead, “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” filled all three columns on both the front page and the final page, two pages printed on the same side of a broadsheet.  Printers often printed those pages first, reserving the second and third pages for news that arrived just before publication.  In addition to the prominent placement of advertising on the front page, almost the entire issue consisted of paid notices.  Only the second page carried anything other than advertising.  News extended throughout the first and second columns.  It overflowed into the third, but more “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” accounted for half of that column.

The proportion and placement of news and advertising often varied from week to week in colonial newspapers as printers made decisions about providing news for subscribers who (sometimes) paid for their newspapers and disseminating paid notices for advertisers who accounted for an important revenue stream.  As a result, some newspapers sometimes looked like vehicles for delivering advertising without much news content at all.

August 9

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

Addition to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 7, 1772).

“Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS.”

Like many colonial printers, Charles Crouch and Powell, Hughes, and Company advertised and sold patent medicines, including Dr. Keyser’s pills for venereal disease, at their printing offices in Charleston.  In the summer of 1772, that prompted a feud between those printers.  It began when Powell, Hughes, and Company ran a lengthy advertisement in their newspaper, the South-Carolina Gazette, providing a history of the medicine and its effectiveness.  In the next issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, Crouch ran his own advertisement, but considered it “needless to trouble the public with more Encomiums on the Effects of this Remedy” in the public prints.  Instead, he offered “A NARRATIVE of the Effects of Dr. KEYSER’s MEDICINE, with an Account of its ANALYSIS, by the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences,” that colonizers could examine at his printing office.  Powell, Hughes, and Company made clear in a new advertisement in the next issue of the South-Carolina Gazette that they took issue with Crouch seeming to critique their marketing efforts.  That led to a series of advertisements that descended into the printers accusing each other of carrying counterfeit medicines and making attacks on each other’s character.  Powell, Hughes, and Company even reprinted one of Crouch’s advertisements, for the purposes of insinuating that their rival suffered from venereal disease himself, in the July 30 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.

Crouch chose not to escalate the war of words at that point.  In his most recent advertisement, he proclaimed that “as to my good or bad Qualities, they are submitted to Candour and Impartiality of the respectable Public, whose Favours I shall always make my chief Study to merit.”  That did not stop him from placing another advertisement for the patent medicine at the center of the controversy.  In the August 4 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, he inserted a short advertisement that alerted prospective customers that “A Fresh Parcel of Dr. KEYSER’s real famous PILLS, are to be had, with full Directions for their Use in all Cases, at CHARLES CROUCH’S Printing Office in Elliott-street.”  He also reminded readers that they could peruse “a Narrative of the Effects of KEYSER’S Medicine, with an Account of its Analysis, by the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences.”  Crouch suggested the pills he sold were authentic when he described them as “real.” Edward Hughes died on July 30, so the newly-constituted Thomas Powell and Company may have been too occupied with other matters to take notice.  Two days later, they ran a two-line advertisement that simply stated, “Keyser’s PILLS and Maredant’s DROPS, may be had at the Printing-Office near the exchange.”  Crouch opted to advertise once again, inserting a variation of his most recent notice as one of only six that appeared in a supplement published on August 7.  He revised the description from “A Fresh Parcel of Dr. KEYSER’s real famous PILLS” to “A Fresh Parcel of Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS,” perhaps intending to defend his own merchandise and cast doubt on the pills stocked by a competitor without calling enough attention to his efforts to incite a response from Powell, Hughes, and Company.  Of all the advertisements he could have chosen to include in the limited space in the midweek supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette, Crouch consciously chose to promote the patent medicines available at his printing office, likely hoping to build on any attention generated by the recent dispute.

August 7

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Addition to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 7, 1772).

“TWO HUNDRED CHOICE Gambia SLAVES.”

Charles Crouch usually distributed new issues of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal on Tuesdays in 1772.  Like many other printers, however, he sometimes issued a supplement, postscript, or addition on another day, disseminating news more quickly than waiting to print the next weekly edition of his newspaper.  That was the case in early August.  A standard four-page issue came out as scheduled on Tuesday, August 4, followed by a two-page Additionon Friday, August 7.  Crouch either had too much news to fit in the standard issue at the time it went to press or he acquired news that he felt could not wait nearly a week shortly after the usual publication day.  After all, his newspaper competed with two others in Charleston.

Most of the Addition consisted of news from London.  The final column included a few items of local news as well as shipping news from the customs house.  That left room for six short advertisements, three of them concerning ships seeking passengers and freight for trips to Philadelphia, Boston, and London.  Another advertisement advised readers of an upcoming sale of “TWO HUNDRED CHOICE Gambia SLAVES, Mostly MEN and WOMEN,” scheduled for August 18.  William Somarsall asserted that the captives “JUST arrived (after a short Passage) in the Sloop THOMAS & ANTHONY, SOLOMON GIBBS, Master.”  The dateline read “Charles Town, August 7, 1772.”  An entry for “Sloop Thomas & Anthony, Solomon Gibbs,” arriving from St. Kitts on August 6 appeared among the shipping news.  The vessel apparently visited at least one port in the Caribbean before continuing to Charleston.

The publication of an Addition to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal certainly served the interests of participants in the transatlantic slave trade.  Of the six advertisements in the Addition, four previously ran in the standard issue on August 4.  The midweek supplement provided an opportunity for Somarsall to promote an auction of enslaved men and women as soon as the Thomas and Anthony arrived in port.  He wasted no time in submitting copy to Crouch’s printing office, rewarded with immediate publication.  He ran the same advertisement three days later in the South-Carolina and American General Gazette … and a South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary that circulated three days before the printers distributed the standard issue for that week on August 13.  The appearance of a supplement once again facilitated the slave trade in addition to sharing news and other advertisements with colonizers.

July 30

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

South-Carolina Gazette (July 30, 1772).

“WHO … can doubt of the amazing Effects of that powerful and invaluable Medicine?”

A feud between Charles Crouch, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette, and Powell, Hughes, and Company, printers of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, played out in the pages of their newspapers in the summer of 1772.  This feud did not concern their work as printers, nor did it appear in editorials.  Instead, they sniped at each other in advertisements hawking a popular patent medicine, “Dr. KEYSER’S famous PILLS.”

According to advertisements that frequently appeared in newspapers from New England to South Carolina, colonial printers often supplemented their revenues from newspaper subscriptions, advertising, job printing, books, and stationery by selling patent medicines.  Doing so required no specialized knowledge of the cures.  The printers merely needed to supply the directions that often accompanied the nostrums they peddled.  In addition, many consumers were already familiar with the most popular patent medicines, the eighteenth-century equivalent of over-the-counter medications.

Powell, Hughes, and Company ran a lengthy advertisement for “Dr. Keyser’s GENUINE Pills” in the July 9 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.  They opened by stating that “numerous Trials have proved [the pills] to be the safest, best, mildest, and most agreeable Medicine ever discovered, for the Cure of the VENEREAL DISEASE, from the slightest Infection to the most inveterate State of that dreadful and almost unconquerable Disorder.”  They provided a long history of the medicine and its efficacy, concluding with a guarantee “to return the Money, if a complete Cure is not performed, provided the Patient adheres to the Manner of taking [the pills], as is given in the printed Directions.”

In the next issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, distributed on July 14, Crouch positioned his own extensive advertisement for “A CONSIGNMENT” of patent medicines on the front page.  The list of medicines began with “A FRESH PARCEL of Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS, With FULL DIRECTIONS for their Use in all CASES.”  Rather than publish the history of that medicine in his advertisement, Crouch alerted readers that they could read “A NARRATIVE of the Effects of Dr. KESYER’s MEDICINE, with an Account of its ANALYSIS, by the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences.”  He further elaborated, “It were needless to trouble the public with more Encomiums on the Effects of this Remedy.”

That statement, as well as competition for customers, raised the ire of Powell, Hughes, and Company.  Two days later, they updated their previous advertisement, inserting an introductory paragraph that directly addressed Crouch’s advertisement.  The partners, “far from thinking ‘it NEEDLESS to trouble the Public with more Encomiums of the Effects of this Remedy,’ look upon it as their Duty to insert the following Particulars of Keyser’s invaluable Medicine, in order that the Afflicted in this Province, may, in some Respects be made acquainted with the Virtues of the most efficacious Medicine ever discovered, and know where to apply for Relief, without the Danger of having other Pills imposed on them instead the GENUINE.”  Powell, Hughes, and Company implied that Crouch carried counterfeit pills before inserting their original advertisement in its entirety.

Crouch objected to that insinuation.  In the July 21 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, he added a short note to his previous advertisement.  Crouch now stated that he carried “A FRESH PARCEL of Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS, (perhaps the only REAL ONES that can be had in the Province at present) With FULL DIRECTIONS for their Use in all CASES.”  He turned the accusation back to Powell, Hughes, and Company, suggesting that it was they, not he, who attempted to dupe the public with counterfeit and ineffective medicines.

That prompted Powell, Hughes, and Company to double down on their insistence that Crouch peddled counterfeits.  On July 23, they expanded the new introduction of their advertisement, reiterating the “NEEDLESS to trouble the Public” quotation and adding a note about “the Danger of having a spurious Sort imposed on them, notwithstanding any forcible ‘PERHAPS’ to the Contrary.”  Furthermore, they “assured” prospective customers that the pills they carried “were received from Mr. Keyser, therefore there can be no ‘Perhaps’ entertained of THEIR not being the GENUINE, unless it is by such who are naturally Obstinate and Conceited, without one good Quality to entitle them to be either.”

The back-and-forth continued in the next edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  Crouch and his competitors carefully monitored what each said about the other in their new advertisements.  Crouch placed “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” on the first page of the July 28 edition, leading with a new advertisement for “Dr. KEYSER’s famous PILLS” limited to a single paragraph that focused primarily on the controversy that had been brewing for the past few weeks.  He once again stated that he sold the pills and declared that “he really believes (without forcible making Use of the Word “PERHAPS”) they are the only REAL ONES that can be had in the Province at present.”  For the first time, he named his competitors, noting that “it is asserted (with a Degree of Scurrility) to the Contrary, in the latter Part of the Introduction to an Advertisement for the Sale of Keyser’s Pills, by Powell, Hughes, & Co. in a Gazette of the 23d Instant, said to be printed by these People.

Crouch devoted the remainder of his advertisement to upbraiding his competitors and defending his reputation.  “In regard to the mean, rascally Insinuations against men, contained in said Introduction,” the printer stated, “I am happy in knowing that they do not, nor cannot in the least AFFECT me, especially as coming from such Hands.”  He then suggested, “I think it would have been much more to their Credit, to have endeavoured to convince the Public, in a Manner different from what they did, that my Surmise was wrong, respecting the Pills sold by them.”  He concluded with an assertion that “as to my good or bad Qualities, they are submitted to Candour and Impartiality of the respectable Public, whose Favours I shall always make my chief Study to merit; without fearing the Malice or Baseness of any Individual.”

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (July 28, 1772).

Powell, Hughes, and Company did not interpret that as an overture to make peace or change their tone.  On July 30, they began with the “New Advertisements” in the South-Carolina Gazette by reprinting Crouch’s advertisement “From the South-Carolina GAZETTE, AND Country Journal, of July 28, 1772.  [No. 348.]” in its entirety.  They made sure that readers could examine the original, though they also added “(t b c t f.)” to the final line, a notation that signaled to the compositor to continue inserting the advertisement until instructed to remove it.  In so doing, they implied that Crouch intended to publicly shame them indefinitely.  Yet they felt no remorse.  Instead, they implied that Crouch suffered from the effects of venereal disease himself, especially cognitive deterioration, composing his latest advertisement only after taking a pill he acquired from Powell, Hughes, and Company.  “WHO,” they asked, “after perusing the foregoing masterly Piece, produced by a SINGLE Dose of Dr. Keyser’s GENUINE Pills, sold by POWELL, HUSGHES, & Co. … can doubt of the amazing Effects of that powerful and invaluable Medicine?”  They further intimated that Crouch suffered from venereal disease by asking, “After so copious a Discharge by ONE Dose, what may not be expected from a SECOND, or should THAT Patient take a WHOLE BOX?”  Powell, Hughes, and Company snidely asserted that Crouch’s mental faculties were so far gone due to venereal disease that a single dose managed to give him only a few moments of clarity but he needed much more medicine to cease ranting and raving.

Powell, Hughes, and Company compounded the insult in a short paragraph that commented on Crouch’s grammar, further imputing that the effects of venereal disease made it difficult for him to string together coherent sentences.  “In the mean Time,” they proclaimed, “the Reader is desired to correct TWO egregious Blunder, by inserting FORCIBLY for forcible, and THOSE PEOPLE instead of these People.  The Word RASCALLY may stand, as ONE distinguishing Mark of the happy Talents and Abilities of the ingenious Author, as a —.”  Pettiness descended into other insults unfit to print in the newspaper.

These exchanges demonstrate that Crouch and Powell, Hughes, and Company did not peruse each other’s publications solely in search of news items to reprint in their own.  They also paid attention to advertisements, especially when their competitors marketed ancillary goods, like patent medicines, to supplement their revenues.  These printers found themselves in competition to sell “Dr. KEYSER’S famous PILLS.”  Rather than pursue their own marketing efforts, they chose to take umbrage at the strategies deployed by the other.  Many purveyors of patent medicines stated in their advertisements that they did not need to offer additional information because the public was already so familiar with the product.  Crouch may or may not have intended such an observation as a critique of Powell, Hughes, and Company’s advertisement.  Whatever his intention, that was enough to garner a response that further escalated into a feud between rival printers hawking patent medicines.

July 14

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

South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (July 14, 1772).

“Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS.”

Like other colonial printers, Charles Crouch cultivated multiple revenue streams simultaneously.  Most printers produced and sold blanks or printed forms for common legal and commercial transactions.  They also did job printing, completing orders for broadsides, handbills, circular letters, and a variety of other items according to the specifications of their customers.  Many sold books, most of them imported from London, as well as stationery and writing supplies, and some printed newspapers.  For Crouch, advertising revenues may have exceeded subscription fees for the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, especially since he often distributed a supplement comprised solely of advertisements.

In addition to blanks, books, and stationery, printers frequently stocked and advertised patent medicines popular among consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.  They did not need to possess any particular expertise to sell those patent medicines, especially since many came with “FULL DIRECTIONS for their Use in all CASES.”  On July 14, 1772, Crouch advertised that he carried an array of patent medicines at his printing office, including “Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS,” “Dr. NELSON’s ANTISCORBUTIC DROPS,” “Dr. HILL’s genuine TINCTURE of VALERIAN,” “Dr. BOERHAAVE’s GRAND BALSAM of HEALTH,” JOYCE’s GREAT AMERICAN BALSAM,” “THE AGUE TINCTURE,” and “The GOLDEN TINCTURE.”  Crouch gave these remedies a privileged place in his newspaper.  His advertisement filled the first column on the first page and overflowed into the second.  Only after promoting an array of elixirs and nostrums did he insert European news received via ships from London.

Crouch’s advertisement included blurbs of various lengths about each of the medicines, most likely reprinted from directions, advertisements, or other materials sent by his suppliers.  The structure of the advertisement suggested that he received some of the most familiar items from London, but acquired Joyce’s Great American Balsam, the Ague Tincture, and the Golden Tincture separately.  The blurbs for those three items included directions, suggesting that they may not have been as familiar to consumers as the patent medicines from London.  Crouch may have hoped that putting less-familiar medicines in an advertisement with trusted remedies would enhance their appeal and convince prospective customers to trust in their efficacy.

In the colophon at the bottom of the final column on the last page, Crouch reminded readers that “all Manner of Printing Work is performed with Care and Expedition” at his printing office, yet he did not confine himself to the printing trade or even the book trade in creating revenue streams for his business.  Like many other colonial printers, he also hawked patent medicines to supplement his other ventures.

June 24

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

Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1772).

“Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette, and Country Journal.”

Charles Crouch, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, had far more content than would fit in a standard issue on June 23, 1772.  Like other newspapers printed throughout the colonies, his weekly newspapers consisted of four pages created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and then folding it in half.  On that particular day, Crouch devoted two pages to news and two pages to advertising.  That left out a significant number of advertisements of all sorts, including legal notices, catalogs of goods sold by merchants and shopkeepers, and notices that described enslaved people who liberated themselves and offered rewards for their capture and return.  Since advertising represented significant revenue for printers, Crouch did not want to delay publishing those advertisements, especially since his newspaper competed with both the South-Carolina Gazette and the South-Carolina and American General Gazette to attract advertisers.

To solve the problem, Crouch printed and distributed a supplement comprised entirely of advertising.  From New England to South Carolina, printers often resorted to supplements when they found themselves in Crouch’s position.  Even as he devised the supplement to accompany the June 23 edition, Crouch carefully considered his resources and the amount of the content he needed to publish.  He selected a smaller sheet than the standard issue, one that allowed for only two columns instead of three.  That could have resulted in wide margins, but Crouch instead decided to print shorter advertisements in the margins, rotating type that had already been set to run perpendicular to the two main columns.  That created room for four additional advertisements per page, a total of sixteen over the four pages of the entire supplement.  With a bit of ingenuity, Crouch used type already set for previous issues or that could easily integrate into subsequent issues rather than (re)setting type just to accommodate the size of the sheet for the June 23 supplement.  Crouch managed to meet his obligation to advertisers who would have been displeased had he excluded their notices while simultaneously conserving and maximizing the resources available in his printing office.

January 28

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

“Those who are animated by the Wish of seeing Native Fabrications flourish in AMERICA.”

Robert Bell worked to create an American literary marketplace in the second half of the eighteenth century.  The flamboyant bookseller, publisher, and auctioneer commenced his efforts before the American Revolution, sponsoring the publication of American editions of popular titles that other booksellers imported.  His strategy included extensive advertising campaigns in newspapers published throughout the colonies.  He established a network of local agents, many of them printers, who inserted subscription notices in newspapers, accepted advance orders, and sold the books after they went to press.

Those subscription notices often featured identical copy from newspaper to newspaper.  For instance, Bell attempted to drum up interest in William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England in 1772.  Advertisements that appeared in the Providence Gazette, the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, and other newspapers all included a headline that proclaimed, “LITERATURE.”  Bell and his agents tailored the advertisements for local audiences, addressing the “Gentlemen of Rhode-Island” in the Providence Gazette and the “Gentlemen of SOUTH-CAROLINA” in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  In each instance, though, they encouraged prospective subscribers to think of themselves as a much larger community of readers by extending the salutation to include “all of those who are animated by the Wish of seeing Native Fabrications flourish in AMERICA.”

Bell aimed to cultivate a community of American consumers, readers, and supporters of goods produced in the colonies, offering colonizers American editions of Blackstone’s Commentaries and other works “Printed on American Paper.”  Given the rate that printers reprinted items from one newspaper to another, readers already participated in communities of readers that extended from New England to Georgia, but Bell’s advertisements extended the experience beyond the news and into the advertisements.  He invited colonizers to further codify a unified community of geographically-dispersed readers and consumers who shared common interests when it came to both “LITERATURE” and “the Advancement” of domestic manufactures.  To do so, they needed to purchase his publications.

October 23

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (October 22, 1771).

“ALL Persons indebted to the Printer of this Paper …”

The masthead for the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal proclaimed that its pages “Contain[ed] the freshest Advices, both Foreign and Domestic.”  The newspaper also disseminated a lot of advertisements, on some occasions more advertising than other content.  The October 22, 1771, edition, for instance, consisted primarily of advertisements.  They filled the entire front and back pages.  News appeared on the second page and overflowed into the first column on the third, but “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” comprised the remainder of that page.  Charles Crouch received so many advertisements at his printing office that he published a two-page supplement devoted entirely to advertising.

Those advertisements represented significant revenue for Crouch, but only if advertisers actually paid for the time and labor required to set the type and for the space that their notices occupied when they ran week after week.  Many advertisers, as well as subscribers, were slow to pay, prompting Crouch to insert his own notice that “ALL Persons indebted to the Printer of this Paper, whose Accounts are not discharged by the first Day of January next … may rely on having them put into the Hands of an Attorney at Law, or Magistrate, as the Case may require.”  He made an exception for “those of his good Customers who have been punctual in their Payments,” but otherwise extended “no Indulgence” to others.

Colonists who pursued all sorts of occupations frequently placed similar advertisements in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal and other newspapers throughout the colonies, but Crouch had an advantage when it came to placing his notice in front of the eyes of the customers that he wanted to see it.  As printer, he determined the order of the contents in his newspaper.  He strategically placed his notice as the first item in the first column on the first page, immediately below the masthead, making it more likely that readers would notice it even if they merely skimmed other advertisements or looked for the news.  Other advertisers usually did not choose where their notices appeared in relation to other content.  As part of the business of operating printing offices and publishing newspapers, Crouch and other printers often made the placement of their own notices a priority.  After all, the financial health of their newspapers served not only themselves but also subscribers who kept informed about current events, advertisers who wished to share their messages with the public, and entire communities that benefited from the circulation of information.