July 27

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

Jul 27 - 7:27:1769 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (July 27, 1769).

“Seal of Mr. FALCK, Inventor … to guard against Counterfeits.”

In an advertisement for the “LIQUID TRUE BLUE” that ran in the New-York Journal for months in 1769, Mr. Falck, “Inventor, and principal Proprietor of this Liquid,” cautioned readers against counterfeits. First, however, he described the dye to prospective customers, stating that it white silk became “a most beautiful Blue,” yellow “a fine Green,” and red or pink “a rich and agreeable Purple.” Users could dye an entire suit with a single vial or use it in smaller quantities for “other small Things” like hats and ribbons. The dye did not lose its potency as long as it remained “well cork’d up.”

Falck claimed the Liquid True Blue as his “original Invention,” first made available to consumers in New York in 1766, just a few years earlier. Since then, he had moved to England and expanded distribution there. Yet the product was still available in the colonies via Falck’s agents, John Holt, the printer of the New-York Journal, and Garrat Noel, a bookseller in New York. Holt and Noel sold the product “Wholesale and Retail,” both to local customers and “all Dealers in the British Plantations.” Falck realized that this left room for mischief on the part of unscrupulous purveyors of imitation products. The authentic Liquid True Blue came with the “Seal of Mr. FALCK … which serves as a Certificate to all Venders in the British Dominions, to guard against Counterfeits.”

Despite his frustration, Falck leveraged the appearance of counterfeits to sell the authentic Liquid True Blue. If he had not “brought it to its Perfection” then others would not have passed off their imitation products as the real thing. Though unfortunate, this was an expected consequence familiar to anyone who succeeded in business or, as Falck put it, “an Inconvenience which Useful Inventions generally labour under by Quacks, whose Study it is to impose on the Public.” The number of counterfeits had multiplied since he left the colony, making it all the more important that customers purchase only those vials of Liquid True Blue that bore his seal and otherwise treat imitations with the contempt they deserved.