What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“He hath provided every Thing for the Accommodation of Gentlemen, their Servants, and Horses.”
Daniel Grant, the proprietor of the “INN and TAVERN, at the Sign of the Fountain” in Baltimore, expanded his advertising campaign. That city did not yet have a newspaper, though subscriptions proposals circulated in hopes of establishing one, so the proprietor of the inn and tavern resorted to advertising in newspapers published in Annapolis and Philadelphia. Even if Baltimore did have a newspaper at the time that Grant opened his doors to “the Publick,” he likely would have placed notices in newspapers published in other cities in the region. Colonizers in and near Baltimore would have learned of the new inn and tavern as they traversed the streets of the city and conversed with friends and acquaintances. Advertisements in newspapers published in Annapolis and Philadelphia, on the other hand, helped to entice readers who might travel to Baltimore. In addition, Grant previously “kept TAVERN at the Sign of the BUCK, near PHILADELPHIA.” Advertisements in the Pennsylvania Packet likely reached former patrons familiar with his reputation.
Prospective patrons in Williamsburg and throughout the rest of Virginia may not have been familiar with the tavern at the Sign of the Buck, unless they had happened to travel to Philadelphia, but Grant likely expected that the fact that he had experience operating a tavern would resonate with colonizers in Virginia who might have cause to venture to Baltimore. His expression of “grateful Thanks to the Gentlemen who did him the Honour to frequent his former House” doubled as a testimonial to his experience. Noting that he had regulars at the Sign of the Buck suggested that he provided satisfactory service that convinced patrons to return. In his new establishment, he needed to cultivate a new clientele, both locals and travelers. To thatend, the innkeeper and tavernkeeper invested in an advertisement in Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette, extending the reach of his marketing to readers served by that newspaper. The copy matched what already appeared in the Maryland Gazette and the Pennsylvania Packet, promising that Grant “hath provided every Thing for the Accommodation of Gentlemen, their Servants, and Horses, in the best Manner.” Rather than seek out food and lodging when they arrived in Baltimore, Grant wanted travelers from Virginia to anticipate staying at the Sign of the Fountain.