September 27

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

Sep 27 - 9:27:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 27, 1768).

“ONE might be apt to think by Mr. Champneys’s advertisement that GEORGE LIVINGSTON is actually dead.”

George Livingston demonstrated his appreciation for drama in an advertisement offering his services as a broker in the September 27, 1768, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. “ONE might be apt to think by Mr. Champneys’s advertisement,” the broker acerbically observed, “that GEORGE LIVINGSTON is actually dead: Blessed be GOD the case is not so: He is still in the land of the living, and steps forth to inform his friends and the public, that he is in some measure able to do BUSINESS.” After such a theatrical introduction, Livingston returned to the familiar refrains that appeared in advertisements placed by others in his line of work. Familiar as Livingston’s appeals to his “FIDELITY and PUNCTUALITY” may have been, they likely garnered more notice from prospective clients as a result of Livingston’s unusual method of introducing himself.

Livingston inserted his advertisement in response to one from his former business partner that appeared the previous week as well as again in the same issue as the rebuttal. In that notice, Champneys announced that he “FOLLOWS the FACTORAGE BUSINESS by himself.” He offered his services to friends and former customers, promising that “they may depend on the same Diligence and constant Attendance as formerly.” Although some colonists placed advertisements when they dissolved business partnerships, Champneys did not mention Livingston at all. Neither advertisement reveals the conditions of their parting. Livingston’s notice could suggest that he took some umbrage at Champneys seemingly erasing their former association, but he also noted that he “proposes doing his business on Mr. Champneys’s, formerly Mr. Simmons’s, wharf.” They were not on such poor terms that Livingston refused to become a tenant of Champneys. Perhaps the two had parted amicably. Perhaps Champneys even laughed at the joke made possible by his own advertisement, even as the two brokers competed for the same clients. Formerly partners, they were now rivals in business. Invoking humor may have been a means for Livingston to attract his share of clients without denigrating his former partner’s own “FIDELITY and PUNCTUALITY.” Just because they were business rivals did not mean that Champneys and Livingston could not also be friendly rivals.

July 16

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

Jul 16 - 7:16:1766 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (July 16, 1766).

“He will be ready to execute any commands in the branch of factorage business.”

William Moore facilitated the buying and selling of goods in colonial America. As a participant in the “factorage business” he played an integral part in the consumer revolution of the eighteenth century by coordinating transportation, delivery, and dissemination of goods via the wharf and storehouses he operated in Savannah. That terminology – consumer revolution – often places primary emphasis on the people who bought and used goods, incorporating them into their everyday lives, but it sometimes overlooks or does not place sufficient emphasis on others who participated in a transatlantic (and even global) historical process. The study of consumer culture does not always sufficiently recognize that the exchanges that put a variety of goods (textiles, hardware, housewares, books, foodstuffs, to name a few major categories frequently advertised) into the possession of colonists was balanced on the other side by retailers, producers, and suppliers. Even the recognition that consumers interacted with merchants or shopkeepers does not necessarily acknowledge other intermediaries who played a part in moving goods from their place of initial production to their place of ultimate consumption.

William Moore may not have sold directly to end-user consumers. Based on this advertisement, it appears that he operated as a wholesaler, dealing in bulk when he sold imported goods like rum, sugar, coffee, and fish. In addition, an important part of his enterprise consisted of providing a place for merchants to land their goods and store them until they could be distributed to shopkeepers and others who would sell them to consumers. Moore assisted in connecting merchants (or their representatives) and retailers, “charging low commissions for any thing committed to his charge.” In the process, he also facilitated the movement of locally produced goods out of the colony, storing “country produce” until it could be loaded on a ship for export. Understanding that time was money, he also promised that any merchants or captains of vessels who chose his wharf would “have good attendance and quick dispatch.” In other words, goods would unloaded and loaded quickly so ships could move on to their next port and continue trading.