May 22

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

May 22 - 5:19:1768 Massachusetts Gazette
Massachusetts Gazette (May 19, 1768).

“Said Paddock will take second hand Chaises in part Pay for new.”

In the late 1760s Adino Paddock operated a workshop “Where the Coach and Chaisemaking Business is carried on in every Branch.” In other words, Paddock made, repaired, and sold all sorts of carriages to the residents of Boston and its hinterlands. He frequently promoted his enterprise by inserting advertisements in multiple newspapers published in the city. In addition to some of the usual appeals made by other artisans, especially appeals to price and quality, Paddock deployed additional marketing strategies that seem strikingly modern.

For instance, in the May 19, 1768, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette Paddock provided a brief overview of some of his inventory. Among the various carriages available, he had “A very good second-hand Coach, Curricle, and several Chaises, some almost new.” He anticipated a common practice in the modern automobile industry. Then, as now, not all consumers could afford or wished to invest in a new vehicle, so Paddock provided an alternate means for acquiring carriages. His “second-hand Coach” was the eighteenth-century equivalent of today’s used car. Also like modern dealerships, Paddock realized that prospective customers balanced the price of a “second-hand” carriage against its condition. What kind of wear and tear took place before it landed in the resale market? To address such concerns, he described “several Chaises” as “almost new.” He offered the best of both worlds to his customers: lower prices for slightly used vehicles still in excellent condition. Paddock also incorporated another innovative marketing strategy into his advertisements: the trade-in. He advised readers that he “will take second hand Chaises in part Pay for new.” He simultaneously made his carriages more affordable and replenished his inventory.

Used vehicles and trade-ins are very familiar to modern consumers who buy vehicles, but these practices did not originate with the automobile industry. Instead, they were already in use in the colonial period, long before automobiles had even been invented. Automobile manufacturers and dealerships eventually adopted marketing strategies that their precursor industry had developed much earlier.

September 17

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

Sep 17 - 9:17:1767 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (September 17, 1767).

“The Coach-making Trade is carried on in all its different Branches.”

Elkanah and William Deane incorporated multiple marketing appeals into their advertisement for carriages slated for sale at auction the following week. Just as modern car dealerships do today, the coachmakers stocked several models so potential customers could choose the one that best fit their needs, tastes, and budgets. They may have also offered choices between new and used carriages. Other coachmakers, including Adino Paddock in Boston, advertised used carriages in the 1760s. The Deanes explicitly described both their “Post-Chariot, and Harness” and “one Horse-Chaise, with Steel-Springs and Iron Axeltree neatly finished with Harness complete” as “new,” but not their “Curricle and Harness.” That they instead described as “good.” If the curricle did indeed have a previous owner, it made sense to focus on its condition to reassure skeptical customers.

The Deanes also proclaimed that they pursued their trade “in all its different Branches” to the same standards as in London and Dublin. They had previously advertised that they “made and finished” coaches, harnesses, saddles and accessories “in the genteelest taste” and that employees in their workshop had been “regularly brought up to the different Branches of Trade.” Establishing connections to London and Dublin elaborated on that appeal. Consumers did not need to import carriages from workshops across the Atlantic. Instead, local artisans possessed the same skills and expertise and followed the same styles as in the most cosmopolitan cities in Britain and Ireland. Their coaches rivaled any built elsewhere in the empire.

Finally, the Deanes inserted a nota bene that informed prospective customers that they “warrant their Work for Twelve Months.” The coachmakers regularly included this guarantee in their advertisements, having previously stated in an earlier notice that the items they sold were “warranted for Twelve Months. They did not offer false promises about the craftsmanship of their carriages; instead, they were so confident that they backed up their appeals to quality with guarantees valid for an entire year after purchase.

Buying a carriage was a major purchase for any customer, even the most affluent. Some colonists spared no expense when they imported carriages from workshops in London, yet local coachmakers sought their own place in the market. Elkanah and William Deane underscored the virtues associated with the carriages they made and sold, promising customers the same cachet as well as services, including repair work during the first year, that faraway competitors could not provide.

May 28

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

May 28 - 5:28:1767 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (May 28, 1767).

“Have their Work done by Men who have been regularly brought up to the different Branches of Trade.”

Elkanah and William Deane made coaches “At their Shop in Broad-Street, New-York.” At the same location they also did “Coach-Harness Work, and Saddler’s-Work of every Kind.” The Deanes apparently were not impressed with many of their competitors, issuing sharp words about the quality of work customers could expect from other shops. In a nota bene they asserted, “The above named DEANE’S, have their Work done by Men who have been regularly brought up to different Branches of Trade, and not be Apprentice Boy’s, whose Master’s never knew the Business, or perhaps ever saw a Coach making in their Lives.”

The quality promised by the Deanes resulted from specialized training by qualified artisans. They accused competitors of hiring workers who had supposedly been through apprenticeships, but they cast doubt on the caliber of expertise and experience possessed by some of the supposed masters who trained the next generation of coachmakers and artisans in related occupations, such as harnessmakers and saddlers. The Deanes warned that prospective customers needed to heed not only the credentials of the coachmaker who ran a shop but also those of anyone employed in that shop. After all, the owner of a shop did not undertake all the work but instead distributed it and oversaw the labor of others. The Deanes took responsibility for the work done by every employee in their shop, pledging that they only hired experienced “Men who have been regularly brought up to the different Branches of Trade.”

Assuring potential customers of the quality of the work produced in their shop was so important to the Deanes that they offered a one-year guarantee. Whether repairs to coaches or new harnesses or saddles, everything that came out of their shop was “warranted for Twelve Months.” By providing a guarantee, the Deanes underscored that their scathing comments about training and expertise were not merely idle boasts. They could afford to guarantee their work because they were so confident in their own skills and experience as well as those of everyone who worked in their shop.

June 24

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

Jun 24 - 6:23:1766 Boston Post-Boy
Boston Post-Boy (June 23, 1766).

“Said PADDOCK has always a Number of second-hand Chaises to dispose of.”

Coachmaker Adino Paddock made a variety of appeals intended to incite demand for his products and services among readers of the Boston Post-Boy. He promoted his own expertise and the care that went into overseeing everything produced in his workshop. He emphasized his prices (“cheaper than in any other Province on the Continent”) and the fine customer service he provided (“those who employ him may depend upon being served in the best Manner”).

In a separate paragraph, Paddock included two final offers that likely look very familiar to modern consumers, especially anyone who has ever purchased a car. Not unlike today, owning a means of transportation in the eighteenth century was expensive. Paddock, like modern car dealers, offered means for potential customers to purchase his wares while reducing the costs, thus making owning carriage a more achievable goal for a greater number of colonists. While Paddock still addressed a relatively small market, only a portion of colonial Bostonians, he did what he could to bring in as many customers as possible.

Paddock underscored that he “has always a Number of second-hand Chaises to dispose of, very cheap.” Today many consumers purchase used cars because they are a less expensive alternative to new cars. In selling “second-hand Chaises,” Paddock became the eighteenth-century equivalent of a used car dealer.

He also indicated that he “will take old Chaises as part of Pay for new.” Trading in a car to offset the price of a new one has long been a standard practice, but this advertisement suggests that it was not especially innovative in the twentieth century. For significant investments in vehicles for personal transportation, coachmakers like Adino Paddock already devised a trade in system more than a century before automobiles were invented.

June 5

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

Jun 5 - 6:5:1766 Pennsylvania Journal
Pennsylvania Journal (June 5, 1766).

“A handsome English made Phaeton, two Curricles in good order, two Chairs &c.”

William Tod, “Coach-Maker from London,” sold several kinds of wheeled conveyances, including carriages, chairs, curricles, and phaetons, to Philadelphia’s elite. Only the affluent could afford to purchase a coach, maintain the horses to pull it, and pay servants with specialized skills to drive the coach and care for the horses. When Tod spoke of “Gentlemans carriages” he was not extending a courtesy title to all possible customers regardless of their status; instead, he knew that his potential customers possessed wealth and renown in the colony.

Even though only a fraction of the readers of the Pennsylvania Journal could afford to purchase some sort of coach, they chose from a broad array of options to suit their tastes and budgets. According to Colonial Williamsburg, more than a dozen varieties of wheeled carriages traveled the streets of Virginia in the eighteenth-century: berlins, calishes, chairs, chaises, chariots, coaches, coaches, curricles, gigs, landaus, landaulets, phaetons, post-chaises, post-chariots, sociable, stage wagons, sulkies, and whiskies. Elite residents of Philadelphia likely purchased a similar array of coaches.

Among those advertised by Tod, a curricle was a light two-wheeled carriage usually drawn by two horses and a phaeton was a four-wheeled open carriage of light construction, with one or two seats facing forward, usually drawn by a pair of horses. Chair and chaise could be used interchangeably with each other and often with a variety of other types of carriages. In offering these definitions in “Wheeled Carriages in Eighteenth-Century Virginia,” Mary R.M. Godwin notes that these definitions come from the Oxford English Dictionary. During the eighteenth-century, however, colonists sometimes differed on the exact specifications that distinguished one sort of coach from another. Variety and innovation meant that names and descriptions had some fluidity. Much as modern consumers customize cars when they purchase them, colonial consumers could work with coachmakers like Tod to design carriages that suited their needs and desires.