October 5

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

Oct 5 - 10:5:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (October 5, 1768).

“Mrs. Cosgreve would undertake to teach young Ladies to sew and read.”

Although several schoolmasters and –mistresses offered their services in Savannah in the late 1760s, James Cosgreve published one of the most extensive advertisements in the Georgia Gazette. The length was due in part to the schoolmaster’s description of his curriculum. Like his counterparts, he taught the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, he also delivered lessons in several other subjects not as widely taught by other schoolmasters in Georgia at the time. For instance, Cosgreve indicated that he provided instruction in “Mathematicks, such as the first six books of Euclid, with their application in the theory and practice of Trigonometry, Navigation, Surveying, Gnomicks, Astronomy, Geography, Algebra, and the Use of the Globes.” He also offered two tracks of language instruction to match the abilities and resources of his students. Advanced students learned Latin and Greek, but those who “cannot spend so much time at school as to acquire” those languages “to any degree of perfection” could instead study “the English and French tongues grammatically.” Cosgreve was well qualified to teach all of these subjects, “having acquired a competent skill and communicative faculty … by the laborious study and experience of a long course of years, in the most noted Seminaries, Academies, and Schools in Ireland, England, and America.”

In a short nota bene Cosgreve first noted where he resided and then added that “Mrs. Cosgreve would undertake to teach young Ladies to sew and read.” Mrs. Cosgreve was not nearly as accomplished as her husband, yet she also contributed to their household economy by offering her services as a teacher. She too participated in the marketplace, yet the representation of her activities that appeared in the public prints was dramatically overshadowed by her husband’s lengthy narration of his credentials and subjects he taught. Such was often the case for wives of schoolmasters and others who provided goods and services. If their contributions to family businesses and household finances were acknowledged at all, they tended to be mentioned only briefly in the conclusions to advertisements, almost as an afterthought. Admittedly, James Cosgreve did require a greater amount of space to detail the many and varied subjects he proposed teaching to “young Gentlemen and Ladies,” but that did not mean that Mrs. Cosgreve’s parallel instruction in sewing and reading had to be consigned to a nota bene. The husband could have instead chosen to depict his wife as an assistant or junior partner while still maintaining his status as the head of a well-ordered household. Such an approach was not unknown in eighteenth-century advertisements placed by schoolmasters whose wives made contributions to the enterprise. In this case, however, Cosgreve may have believed that placing any more emphasis on his wife would have distracted from the image of himself, the atmosphere of genteel learning at his school, and the extensive curriculum that he sought to market to prospective students and their parents.

August 24

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

Aug 24 - 8:24:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (August 24, 1768).

“He HATH OPENED A WRITING OFFICE.”

James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, regularly inserted advertisements for the blanks (or forms) that he printed and sold to supplement the revenues from operating the colony’s only newspaper. The purposes of those blanks ranged widely, including “bonds, bills of sale, mortgages, powers of attorney, bonds of arbitration, indentures, bills of lading, articles of agreement between masters of vessels and seamen, [and] indico certificates.” Making use of printed blanks allowed colonists to enter into a variety of commercial and legal agreements on their own.

Some colonists, however, did not wish to enter into such arrangements without consulting someone with greater expertise in drawing up agreements and other legal devices, especially when the complexity of their situation exceeded the circumstances anticipated on the standardized forms. In those instances, Benjamin Prime offered his services.

In the summer of 1768, Prime inserted advertisements in the Georgia Gazette to announce that he “HATH OPENED A WRITING OFFICE” conveniently located near the Assembly House in Savannah. There he drew up a variety of “Instruments,” including “Wills, Deeds, Mortgages, Leases, Letters of Attorney, Articles of Agreement,” and much more, as indicated by “&c. &c.” (invoking the eighteenth-century abbreviation for et cetera twice). Prime’s services paralleled many of those achieved by the printed blanks sold at the printing office on Broughton Street.

Yet contracting Prime’s services conferred additional value for his clients, as he underscored in the introductory remarks in his advertisement. He explained that he “hath been bred to the Law, and hath been a practitioner for several years in the province of North Carolina.” He contributed experience and expertise to the transactions and agreements he oversaw, according greater peace of mind to clients who may have been hesitant to rely on printed blanks alone. Given that he had only recently opened his office in Savannah, he publicized his credentials as a means of assuring prospective clients that they could depend on his competence in serving them.

August 16

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

Aug 16 - 8:16:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 16, 1768).

“CHARLES HARRIS, WORKING SILVERSMITH, FROM LONDON, (Last from Mr. JONATHAN SARRAZIN.”

Like many other artisans who advertised in colonial newspapers, Charles Harris, a silversmith, provided his some of his credentials in the notice he inserted in the August 16, 1768, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. He first asserted his connections to London, the cosmopolitan center of the empire, as a means of assuring prospective customers that he was indeed aware of the current tastes and styles. Invoking his London origins gave the silversmith cachet while simultaneously suggesting his familiarity with “all sorts of new fashioned bottle-stands” and “cruet frames after a new fashion.” He paid attention to the smallest details, even when making “table spoons, feathered on the handle.”

Yet Harris had not just arrived in Charleston directly from London. His advertisement indicated that he had already spent some time in the colony, employed in another workshop before establishing his own. Even though he had migrated “FROM LONDON,” Harris informed readers that he was also “(Last from Mr JONATHAN SARRAZIN),” a jeweler who ran a shop at the corner of Broad Street and Church Street. Harris’s former employer, who had recently published a series of advertisements in all three newspapers published in Charleston, was now one of his competitors. Harris took advantage of their former affiliation to market his own wares. Prospective customers who had previously secured Sarrazin’s services had likely acquired items that Harris took a hand in producing. Rather than his work being completely unknown in the local marketplace, as was the case for artisans newly arrived from London, some of his wares had already found their way into the hands of local consumers. This allowed Harris to piggyback on the reputation that Sarrazin had cultivated among residents of Charleston.

Harris deployed his advertisement as his résumé. He included vital work history that allowed prospective customers to determine if they wished to consider availing themselves of his services. Establishing that he had already made contributions to his trade in the local marketplace gave Harris additional credibility in his pledge to potential clients that they “may depend on having their work done to their satisfaction, and with the quickest dispatch.”

July 21

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

Jul 21 - 7:21:1768 Virginia Gazette Rind
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 21, 1768).
“I shall … give relief in all sicknesses, even the most desperate.”

When De Lacoudre, a “FRENCH Doctor,” settled in Norfolk in the summer of 1768, he placed an advertisement in Rind’s Virginia Gazette to inform readers of the services he provided. “I possess the most efficacious remedy,” he boasted, “to cure some sicknesses with which the country appears to be much afflicted,” especially “scurvy distempers.” In addition, he claimed that he could “cure distempers of the eyes, ears, and deafness, couching or taking away cataracts, though the person may have been deprived of sight or hearing for many years.” Furthermore, De Lacoudre promoted his “infallible remedy for all sorts of wounds, and scorbutick, schirrous, and scrophulous ulcers of all sorts.” To top it all off, he was qualified to perform “all sorts of operations in surgery and man midwifery,” including when women were “in imminent danger of life.” The doctor could even make diagnoses and recommend treatments from afar. He instructed those who lived “too great a distance” from Norfolk to send their urine. In turn, “they shall have proper advice.”

De Lacoudre did not merely announce that he possessed these various abilities. Considering that he was new to the colony and the community of readers and prospective patients did not know him or have previous experience seeking his advice and remedies, the doctor first listed his credentials. He began with his education, indicating that he bad been a “pupil of Doctors Guerin and Morant, both members of the Royal Academy of Paris and Montpelier, Physicians and Surgeons to the King of France.” Upon receiving that training, he performed operations in several countries, “authorized by certificates, from Princes, Generals, Governors, and City Corporations.” De Lacoudre expected one certificate in particular to impress the residents of Virginia, the one issued “from his Britannick Majesty, King George III.” Developing relationships of trust with patients required time. Until he had time to interact with patients and establish a reputation among Virginians, De Lacoudre expected his credentials would offer reassurance about his skills as a physician. This was a common strategy among advertisers who provided medical services, especially those who recently migrated from Europe. They sought to impress prospective patients by providing extensive descriptions of their training, experience, and approbation by nobles and other elites on the other side of the Atlantic.

March 22

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

Mar 22 - 3:22:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 22, 1768.)

“MATTHIAS HUTCHINSON, CAHIR-MAKER, who served his time to Mr. HART.”

Matthias Hutchinson published an advertisement in the March 22, 1768, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal “to acquaint the public, and his friends in particular, that he has opened a shop in Queen-street.” Hutchinson, a “CHAIR-MAKER,” proclaimed that he would pursue his occupation “in all its branches,” signaling to prospective customers that he was prepared to undertake jobs involving any aspect of constructing chairs. He also advanced some of the most common appeals made by merchants, artisans, and shopkeepers in their advertisements for consumer goods and services during the eighteenth century. He promised fair prices (“reasonable terms”) and efficient service (“quickest dispatch”).

In addition to those marketing strategies, Hutchinson also adopted an appeal most frequently deployed by artisans: he promoted his qualifications, especially his training. He did not introduce himself to the public merely as a “CHAIR-MAKER” but instead as a “CHAIR-MAKER, who served his time to Mr. HART.” In other words, Hutchinson had completed an apprenticeship in Hart’s workshop. He assumed that readers of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal were already familiar with Hart’s work and depended on his former master’s reputation as he attempted to cultivate his own professional identity among prospective customers in Charleston and beyond. Hutchinson considered this particularly imperative, opting to establish his credentials before he even mentioned his location or made appeals to price and customer service. Those credentials also enhanced his credibility when he assured potential clients that they “may depend on having their work done in the neatest and strongest manner.” His chairs were both attractive and sturdy, results produced thanks to the skills that Hutchinson developed via his training by Hart.

When he established his own workshop, Hutchinson identified his apprenticeship as an advantage that prospective customers would value when considering whether to entrust their business to the newcomer. Having labored in Hart’s workshop, he had participated in the production of chairs associated with his former master, contributing to the senior artisan’s reputation. Now Hutchinson sought to mobilize Hart’s reputation as a testament to his own qualifications and skill by noting that he had “served his time to Mr. HART.” More than any other appeal to prospective customers, Hutchinson made that the focal point of his identity as an artisan and entrepreneur.