September 12

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (September 10, 1770).

“Turtle, for large Companies, dressed to Perfection.”

When Edward Bardin opened the King’s Arms Tavern in New York in the summer of 1770, he did not confine his advertising to the newspapers published in that city.  Instead, he also placed a notice in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, advising “Gentlemen, Ladies and others” of the amenities available at his establishment.  He promised to entertain them “in the most complete and genteel Manner.”  To achieve that goal, he acquired “a good Stock of neat Wines and other Liquors, a professed Cook, and other proper Attendants.”  He also supplied “the public Papers” for his customers, likely including the New-York Journal, the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, and the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy.  He may have also subscribed to newspapers printed in other cities and towns in the colonies and perhaps even London as well.  Bardin also offered “convenient Lodgings” for “Gentlemen who are Strangers,” including those who saw his advertisement in the Pennsylvania Chronicle and then traveled to New York.  The tavernkeeper aimed to impress, contending that he had everything “necessary to render” the King’s Arms “as complete a House of Business as any on the Continent in America.”

Bardin emphasized one additional amenity for prospective guests: “Turtle, for large Companies, dressed to perfection.”  Tavernkeepers occasionally mentioned that they provided turtle, shorthand for turtle feasts.  By the middle of the eighteenth century, turtle feasts became popular among the elite in London and the largest cities in the colonies.  In “An Historical and Zooarchaeological Approach to the Study of Turtle-based Foods in the City of Brotherly Love, ca. 1750-1850,” Teagan Schweitzer notes that the turtles for these feasts were often “large ocean-bound green sea turtles … in the range of 50 to 300 pounds” and “imported from the West Indies.”  Due to their size, they were served at banquets, just as Bardin suggested in his advertisement.  According to Schweitzer, “Hannah Glasse’s 1751 edition of The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, the earliest English cookbook to include a recipe for turtle, aside from the soup there was a dish highlighting the calipash (the back shell), one for the calipee (the belly), a dish made from the offal (entrails), and one from the fins.”  Recipes for turtle appeared in several eighteenth-century cookbooks.  In The Experienced English House-keeper (1769), Elizabeth Raffald “gave instructions for preparing seven dishes from a turtle weighing a hundred pounds.”  For one final example, Schweitzer highlights a recipe for turtle in Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery (1796), the first American cookbook.  Simmons included only thirty-nine recipes in that cookbook.

In the second half of the eighteenth-century, the turtle feast became a popular pastime for genteel diners who gathered for banquets at taverns like the King’s Arms in New York.  Bardin mentioned “Turtle, for large Companies, dressed to perfection” in his advertisement as an additional mark of distinction for his tavern, an amenity as important as the “neat Wines,” “public Papers,” and “proper Attendants” that made his establishment rival any other in the colonies.

June 6

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

Jun 6 - 6:4:1770 New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (June 4, 1770).

“The public Prints taken in for Gentlemen’s Amusement.”

Edward Bardin operated taverns in both Boston and New York in the late 1760s and early 1770s.  In advance of opening “a compleat Victualing-House, [at] the Sign of the Golden Ton, in Chapel-Street” in New York he placed an advertisement detailing its many amenities in the June 4, 1770, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.  Bardin focused primarily on the food prepared and served at his establishment, proclaiming that “Gentlemen may Breakfast, Dine and Sup, any Day in the Week.”  He also catered “Dinners or Suppers for large or small set Companies.”  For those who did not wish to dine at the Sign of the Golden Tun, Bardin also prepared takeout food; his services included “Victuals ready dressed, sold out in any Quantity, to such Persons who may find it convenient to send for it.”  Bardin pledged that his customers would experience “the most civil Treatment, and the very best Accommodations.”  He asserted that he served meals “in the most genteel Manner.”

When it came to amenities beyond the food and service, he mentioned one in particular, noting that the “public Prints [were] taken in for Gentlemen’s Amusement.”  In other words, Bardin subscribed to newspapers that his clients could read while they dined at the Sign of the Golden Ton.  He likely received copies of all three newspapers published in New York at the time, the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (in which his advertisement appeared), the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy, and the New-York Journal.  He may have also subscribed to newspapers from the largest ports in the colonies and even London, all part of the service he provided at his establishment.  In addition to “Gentlemen’s Amusement,” these newspapers offered an overview of current events that would have contributed to shaping both the politics and the business ventures of Bardin’s patrons.  A single copy could have been perused by dozens of readers who dined at the victualing house.  The proprietors of coffeehouses and similar establishments aided in the dissemination of the news in eighteenth-century America by making newspapers available for their customers to read at their leisure.

December 28

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

Dec 28 - 12:28:1769 Advert 1 Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (December 28, 1769).

Advertisement in Reply to Mr. Samuel Anthony’s, inserted in the first Page of this Paper.”

It began as an advertisement concerning “a Negro Man named Cuffe, about 22 years of Age” who made his escape from Edward Bardin. That advertisement followed a standard format, offering a physical description of Cuffe, listing the clothes he wore when he departed, offering a reward for his capture and return, and warning “Masters of Vessels” and others against “harbouring, concealing or carrying off” Cuffe. Bardin’s advertisement generated a response that called into question whether Cuffe actually escaped from Bardin. Samuel Anthony inserted a notice in the December 25, 1769, edition of the Boston-Gazette to advise the public that Isaac Winslow had sold Cuffe to him and, in turn, Anthony had sold Cuffe to James Lloyd. Anthony suggested that Cuffe had not escaped from Bardin, advising that “All Persons are therefore hereby caution’d against taking up said Negro as they may depend on being prosecuted therefor by Dr. Lloyd, who purchas’d him fairly, and is determined to defend his Right to him by Law against all Persons whatever.” That same advertisement included details of several transactions that had transferred Cuffe from one enslaver to another.[1]

Dec 28 - 12:28:1769 Advert 2 Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (December 28, 1769).

Three days later, the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter carried both advertisements. The compositor helpfully placed them one after another on the front page, inserting a heading to inform readers that Anthony’s notice was a “NOTIFICATION in Answer to the above ADVERTISEMENT.” Bardin had apparently seen Anthony’s advertisement in the Boston-Gazette. He penned a response on December 27, in time for it to appear in the December 28 edition of the Weekly News-Letter, but not early enough for it to run alongside the other advertisements. Instead, the compositor once again devised a header, this one labeling Bardin’s notice as an “Advertisement in Reply to Mr. Samuel Anthony’s, inserted in the first Page of this Paper.” This new addition to the feud between Bardin and Anthony filled as much space as the other two notices combined, going into even more detail about the agreements Bardin, Anthony, Winslow, and Lloyd made concerning Cuffe. Bardin concluded by asserting, “[A]s I am threatned by Doctor Lloyd to be sued to the uttermost of the Law if I dare or any one else to touch the said Negro, as he claims him as his Property, I am determined for to know by the Law who has the best Right to him,” excluding the possibility that Cuffe had the “best Right” to himself.

This series of advertisements suggests that Cuffe never “RAN-away” from Bardin. Instead, Bardin advertised that Cuffe escaped and offered a reward for his capture and return as a ploy for getting him back from others who claimed that they now rightfully held him in bondage. The subsequent advertisements did not report that Cuffe had escaped amid all the confusion over whom “has the best Right to him.” Bardin adapted the standard runaway advertisement to suit other purposes.

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[1] Bardin and Anthony both described Cuffe as a “Servant,” but neither provided other details that identified him as an indentured servant rather than an enslaved man. For instance, they both provided extensive details about the agreements they negotiated concerning Cuffe, but neither mentioned how much time remained of his indenture. Although Black men, women, and children were sometimes indentured rather than enslaved in colonial New England, in this instance it appears that Bardin and Anthony conflated the words “servant” and “slave” in describing Cuffe.

August 28

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

Aug 28 - 8:28:1769 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (August 28, 1769).

“Tavern at the King’s Arms on Boston Neck.”

In the summer of 1769, the George Tavern on Boston Neck became the Tavern at the King’s Arms. When Edward Bardin of New York acquired the property from Gideon Gardiner, he rebranded the business as part of his efforts to “merit Favour” from prospective patrons. The establishment Bardin described in advertisements that ran in the Boston-Gazette and the Boston Post-Boy offered amenities for both “Ladies and Gentlemen,” including a garden “prepared … in an elegant Manner.” This was not a tavern for raucous drinking but instead a place to gather for leisurely dining, drinking, and conversation. In addition to “an Assortment of neat Wines … and other Liquors,” Bardin supplied the “best Tea and Coffee … to accommodate his Customers.” If they preferred, ladies and gentleman could enjoy “New-York Mead and Cakes” instead of tea or coffee.

To aid prospective patrons in visiting the new Tavern at the King’s Arms, Bardin arranged for a shuttle service that ran between “Capt. Paddock’s, Coach-Maker in Common Street” and the tavern. He advised potential customers that he had “prepared a commodious Coach to wait upon any Ladies or Gentlemen, from 3 o’Clock till 4 in the Afternoon.” Those who did not wish to board the carriage at Paddock’s shop could instead be picked up “at any other Place in Town,” provided that they gave sufficient notice when sending their requests. Not only could patrons enjoy the many amenities of the Tavern at the King’s Arms during their visit, they could also travel there in style in the “commodious Coach.” Bardin and Paddock charged one shilling per person for a round trip.

The new proprietor of the tavern offered another convenience for consumers: take out food. In addition to serving breakfast in the morning, dinner at midday, and supper in the evening, he also prepared “hot Chicken Pies for ready Suppers” for “Customers who are pleased to send for them.”   Bardin opened his advertisement pledging “to merit Favour by a constant and diligent Application” to the “Command” of the “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Town of Boston.” To that end, he offered a variety of amenities and conveniences for prospective patrons to enjoy, including gardens, an assortment of food and beverages, shuttle service to and from the tavern, and take out food for those unable to dine at his establishment. Bardin not only promised hospitality, he also helped prospective customers envision what they could expect to experience at the new Tavern at the King’s Arms.