October 4

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

Oct 4 - 10:4:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (October 4, 1768).

“A proper supply of GOODS will be sent to their stores at DORCHESTER and MONCK’S CORNER.”

For six weeks in the fall of 1768 the partnership of Dawson and Walter placed an advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to promote the “large and compleat assortment of GOODS, for the present and winter season” that they had imported from London. In addition to seasonal goods, their inventory included items that testified to the refinement of provincial consumers, especially when it came to apparel and housewares. From among the assortment of goods on hand, Dawson and Walter specifically enumerated “FASHIONABLE BROAD CLOTHS, and trimmings, compleat sets of enameled, and blue and white table china, [and] complete sets of tea ditto.”

Like many other colonial merchants and shopkeepers, Dawson and Walter did not address residents of Charleston exclusively. They also wished to cultivate customers among colonists who lived in the hinterlands surrounding the colony’s major port city. Some of their counterparts advertised that they accepted orders delivered by post or messenger and faithfully filled them, but Dawson and Walter instead opened additional shops in smaller towns to serve colonists outside of Charleston. They informed readers that “A proper supply of GOODS will be sent to their stores at DORCHESTER and MONCK’S CORNER, where their friends may now depend on finding a good assortment kept up.” Furthermore, the partners pledged that customers in the countryside would be “served as cheap as in Charles-Town.” In other words, convenience did not come at the expense of limited selections or higher prices. Those who shopped in Dorchester and Monck’s Corner could depend on choosing from among the same merchandise presented to customers in the bustling port. Despite their distance from Charleston – and their even greater distance from London, the cosmopolitan center of the empire – customers in the hinterlands could demonstrate their refinement by purchasing the same goods as consumers in the cities. Demand alone does not explain the extensive reach of the consumer revolution during the eighteenth century. Instead, entrepreneurs like Dawson and Walter who established shops beyond major cities and towns facilitated the distribution of consumer goods throughout the American colonies.

January 5

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

Jan 5 - 1:5:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 5, 1768).

“At his store in Beaufort.”

Samuel Grove advertised imported textiles and “a general assortment of other goods” in the January 5, 1768, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. Unlike most of the merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans who advertised in that newspaper or its local competitors, Grove’s business was not located in Charleston. Instead, he owned a store in Beaufort, “kept by Mr. PETER LAVINE.” Grove’s advertisement testifies to the reach of both consumer culture and print culture, especially the distribution of newspapers, in eighteenth-century America.

Chartered in 1711, Beaufort is located on Port Royal, one of the Sea Islands in the South Carolina Lowcountry, approximately midway between Charleston and Savannah. The town did not have its own newspaper; instead the newspapers printed in Charleston served the residents of Beaufort and the rest of the colony. According to Edward Connery Lathem’s Chronological Table of American Newspapers, South Carolina’s newspapers were published exclusively in Charleston until the appearance of the South-Carolina Gazette in Parker’s Ferry in 1782, just as the revolution neared its end.[1] Only one issue survives, though items reprinted in other newspapers suggest that the Parker’s Ferry South-Carolina Gazette commenced in April and continued at least until the end of June.[2] No other newspaper printed beyond Charleston appeared until James Carson published the South-Carolina Independent Gazette in Georgetown, also in the Lowcountry, in 1791.[3] In the interim, a variety of newspapers commenced (and many of them ceased) publication in Charleston. The colony’s oldest city remained the primary hub for disseminating information, both news and advertising, for a quarter century after Samuel Grove inserted his advertisement for a store in Beaufort in Charleston’s South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. He placed that advertisement with confidence that prospective customers in Beaufort would see it. In addition, he realized that readers in other parts of the country would also encounter it. To that end, he accepted “orders from the country” beyond Beaufort.

Charleston’s newspapers served an extensive hinterland. Samuel Grove turned to the advertising pages of one of those newspapers to attract customers who resided in that hinterland.


[1] Edward Connery Lathem, Chronological Tables of American Newspapers, 1620-1820 (Barre, MA: American Antiquarian Society and Barre Publishers, 1972), 21.

[2] Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1947), 1052.

[3] Lathem, Chronological Tables, 40

November 3

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

Nov 3 - 11:3:1767 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 3, 1767).

“One for their TOWN and one for their STONO STORE.”

Atkins and Weston placed an advertisement in the November 3, 1767, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to “Inform their friends and customers, that by the ship Nancy, Captain Jordan, from London” they had just imported a variety of new merchandise. The shipping news, fortuitously printed immediately to the left of the advertisement, confirmed that Jordan and the Nancy had entered the port two weeks earlier on October 20. Atkins and Watson had been expecting this shipment for quite some time. They previously attempted to drum up demand for their new inventory even before it arrived; in September they published an advertisement designed to incite anticipation among their “friends and customers” and other readers of the newspaper throughout the colony.

In both advertisements Atkins and Weston underscored that they operated stores at two locations, one in Charleston and the other in Stono, a smaller settlement to the southwest across the Ashley River. Potential customers who lived in the vicinity of Stono did not have to travel to the colony’s major port to make their purchases at Atkins and Weston’s main store. Instead, they could shop at the local branch. The advertisers made clear that customers at both locations would choose from among the same selection and experience the same treatment. They announced that the recent shipment on the Nancy included “TWO very LARGE and COMPLEAT ASSORTMENTS of GOODS” that “consist of almost every article usually imported.” They were so certain of this that they did not publish a detailed list but instead argued it was “needless to descend to particulars.” They did not privilege customers in Charleston, pledging “to keep both their stores well supplied.” In addition, they assured prospective customers in both locations that they “may place a fixed confidence in their selling on as reasonable terms as any people in the province.”

Atkins and Weston offered options to consumers who did not reside in the colony’s major port, one of the largest and most cosmopolitan urban centers in the colonies in the late 1760s. Colonists who lived in Charleston’s hinterland could have the same shopping experiences at a local outlet in Stono as if they made the journey into the city because Atkins and Weston stocked both stores with the same goods. The merchandise at their second location was neither secondhand nor second best.

May 23

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

May 23 - 5:23:1767 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (May 23, 1767).

“WILLIAM ROGERS, Of Newport, Rhode-Island … has newly furnished his Shop with a neat Assortment of GOODS.”

In general, eighteenth-century advertisers tended to place notices only in their local newspapers, though members of the book trades sometimes accounted for exceptions as they cooperated with colleagues to create larger markets for promoting and distributing reading materials. What qualified as a local newspaper depended on the perspective of readers and advertisers since newspapers were printed only in slightly more than a dozen cities and towns in 1767. Most publications thus served an extensive hinterland, often an entire colony and sometimes a region that included portions of other colonies as well. The Pennsylvania Gazette, for instance, had subscribers throughout the colony as well as Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. In the absence of local newspapers to carry their marketing messages, shopkeepers and others in those colonies sometimes advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette and the other newspapers printed in Philadelphia but distributed widely.

William Rogers “Of Newport, Rhode-Island, on the Parade opposite the Custom-House” did not want for a local newspaper to carry his advertisements. Samuel Hall published the Newport Mercury from his printing shop on Thames Street. The Mercury was Newport’s only newspaper. This did not, however, prevent Rogers from advertising in multiple publications. He took the rather extraordinary action of injecting himself into the Providence market when he placed an advertisement in the Providence Gazette. Several shopkeepers who advertised regularly in the Gazette (including Thompson and Arnold, Joseph and William Russell, Benjamin and Edward Thurber, and James Green) already competed with each other to gain both attention in the public prints and customers in their shops. Rogers presented the “neat Assortment of GOODS” in his shop as a viable alternative, especially since “he intends to sell as cheap as can be bought at any Shop in PROVIDENCE.” In the course of the week, Rogers’ advertisement appeared in both the Providence Gazette and the Newport Mercury.

Rogers may not have expected to garner many customers from Providence, but he almost certainly aimed to attract readers of the Providence Gazette elsewhere in Rhode Island, especially those who lived between Providence and Newport. Shopkeepers in Providence served the city’s hinterland as well as their neighbors in the city. William Rogers wanted some of that business for himself.