What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“RD. SAUSE. CUTLER.”
In the second issue of Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer, the printer continued publishing a significant number of advertisements to supplement the revenue earned from subscriptions. Advertising accounted for six of the twelve columns in the April 29, 1773, edition. Many of those advertisers also placed notices in other newspapers.
Richard Sause, a cutler, ran an advertisement that filled more than half a column. He listed a variety of goods from among the “neat and general Assortment of Cutlery, Hardware, Jewellery and Tunbridge Wares” that he recently imported, clustering the various categories of merchandise together with headings to help readers locate items of interest. A woodcut that depicted more than a dozen forms of cutlery, including knives, scissors, a saw, and a sword, adorned the advertisement. That image may have replicated the sign that marked the location of Sause’s shop. It likely looked familiar to readers who regularly perused the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury since it had previously accompanied the cutler’s advertisements in that newspaper.
Nesbitt Deane, a hatmaker who frequently advertised in the city’s newspapers, placed a notice that featured a woodcut of a tricorne hat with his name enclosed in a banner beneath it in the first issue of Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer, but it did not appear in the second issue. Like Sause’s woodcut, that image would have been familiar to readers who regularly read other newspapers since it had been appearing in the New-York Journal for more than a year. Deane apparently wished to increase the visibility of his business among curious colonizers who examined the first issue of Rivington’s newspaper, but returned to advertising in a publication that he had greater confidence would yield customers. His advertisement, complete with the woodcut, ran in the New-York Journal rather than Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer on April 29. Deane either collected the woodcut from one printing office and delivered it to the other or made arrangements for the transfer.
In both instances, the advertisers benefitted from visual images that prominently displayed their names and distinguished their notices from others that consisted solely of text. To gain those advantages, they made additional investments in commissioning woodcuts and then carefully coordinated when and where they appeared in the public prints. Like other advertisers who incorporated images into their notices, Deane and Sause each commissioned a single woodcut rather than multiple woodcuts that would have allowed them to enhance their advertisements in more than one newspaper simultaneously.