What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“CONTINUATION to the South-Carolina Gazette, and Country Journal.”
Like other newspapers published in colonial America, a standard issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal consisted of four pages created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and then folding it in half. Charles Crouch occasionally had more news, editorials, and advertisements than would fit in a standard issue, prompting him to distribute a supplement with the additional material. Some newspapers so often had surplus items, especially advertisements, that supplements themselves became practically standard.
November 13, 1770, was one of those days that all of the news and all of the advertising for the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal would not fit on four pages. Six pages did not provide enough room either. Crouch filled a two-page supplement and still had advertisements remaining. Advertisements generated important revenue for any printer. In this case, Crouch determined that they generated enough revenue to merit the additional expense of producing and distributing a four-page Continuation to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal in addition to the supplement. The Continuation consisted entirely of advertisements.
The Continuation, however, was not printed on the same size sheet as the standard issue or the supplement. Digital remediations of eighteenth-century newspapers usually do not include metadata that includes dimensions, but differences in the sizes of sheets are often apparent even without knowing the precise measurements. The standard issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal featured three columns per page. When printed on an 8.5×11 sheet of office paper, the type is relatively small. In contrast, the Continuation had only two columns per page. When printed on an 8.5×11 sheet, the type is relatively large. The sizes of the original broadsheets were obviously different. Furthermore, white space divides the columns in standard issues, but the columns nearly run together in the Continuation, separated by a line running down the middle. Rather than reset the type of advertisements that ran in previous issues, a time-consuming task, Crouch instead made them fit on the smaller sheet. The Continuation had four pages, but they did not double the size of that standard issue.
Still, subscribers and other readers encountered far more content than usual when they perused the November 13 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal along with its Supplement and Continuation. Close examination of the digital surrogate also suggests that Crouch printed the supplement on a smaller sheet than the standard issue, though one large enough to retain three columns with white space separating them. For most newspaper printers, advertisements represented significant revenues. Paid notices often accounted for a significant portion of the content in any given issue. In this instance, devoting a page to advertising was not sufficient. Crouch devised additional sheets to accompany the standard issue, incurring expenses yet generating revenues while simultaneously exposing readers to greater advertising content.