What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Mourning rings cheaper than has ever been done in this city.”
Upon the occasion of moving to a new location, jeweler and goldsmith James Bennet placed an advertisement in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury. He informed former and prospective customers that he no longer ran a shop on Maiden Lane. Instead, the “public in general” could find him at his new shop at “the house next to Mr. Peter Goelet’s, the sign of the Golden Key, near the Old-Slip Market, Hanover-Square.” In an era before standardized street numbers, Bennett provided plenty of landmarks to help customers find his new location.
He opened his advertisement by expressing appreciation for “those ladies and gentlemen who have been so kind as to favour him with their custom.” He hoped that they would continue as customers. Acknowledging their prior support for his business also alerted prospective new customers that even though he set up shop at a new location this was not a new endeavor. Bennett already had experience pursuing his trade in New York. In thanking former customers, he also sought to demonstrate demand for his services among readers who had not yet visited his shop at any location.
To further capture their interest, he briefly described his services, stating that he continued “to make, mend, [and] sell … all sorts of jewellery and goldsmith’s work.” He embellished that rather plain overview with a much more enticing offer, claiming that he “makes mourning rings cheaper than has ever been done in this city, and with the greatest expedition.” An advertisement for a jeweler and goldsmith moving from one location to another was pretty standard fare among the notices that ran in colonial newspapers. A declaration about the lowest prices possible for a popular piece of jewelry, on the other hand, challenged consumers to visit his shop to see for themselves. If that managed to get customers through the door, it gave Bennett opportunities to secure other sales. Even if readers were skeptical of his claim, they could not know for certain unless they investigated on their own. Rather than merely announce that he moved to a new location, Bennett enticed prospective customers with a bold claim intended to grab their attention.