July 17

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

New-London Gazette (July 17, 1772).

“Articles of JEWELLERY.”

John B. Brimmer stocked an array of goods at his store in Norwich Landing, Connecticut, in the summer of 1772.  In an advertisement in the New-London Gazette on July 17, he promoted a “great Variety of English and Hard Ware Goods,” but claimed to have “too great a Variety to be enumerated in an Advertisement.”  That differed from his marketing efforts the previous summer, but perhaps Brimmer determined that he did not wish to incur the expense of inserting lengthy lists of his goods in the newspaper.  He did list a couple of dozen items in a dense paragraph that included “best London Pewter,” “Brass Kettles,” “Iron Tea-Kettles,” concluding with “&c. &c. &c.”  In repeating the abbreviation for et ceterathree times, he suggested to prospective customers that they would discover much more when they visited his store.

Brimmer also informed the public that he carried many “Articles of JEWELLERY.”  Those items he did choose to enumerate, listing “Cypher Drops,” “Brilliants for Rings,” “Cyphers for Buttons,” “Brilliant Drops,” and “Sparks and Garnets.”  To draw attention to this merchandise, Brimmer arranged it in two columns with only item on each line.  Decorative type separated the two columns, giving the advertisement a unique visual component compared to any other notice in that issue of the New-London Gazette.  Only the “POETS CORNER,” a weekly feature at the top of the final page, featured anything similar, lines of decorative type appearing both above and below its headline.

Like most eighteenth-century advertisers, Brimmer relied on the copy to do most of the work in marketing his goods.  He made appeals to consumer choice, invoking the word “variety” more than once, and promised low prices.  However, he also introduced a bit of graphic design to engage readers of the New-London Gazette.  The decorative type enhanced the visibility of his advertisement, distinguishing it from others.

November 8

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

New-London Gazette (November 8, 1771).

“As compleat an Assortment as is to be met with at any Store in NORWICH.”

As October became November in 1771, John-McClarren Breed continued to advertise an assortment of goods available at his store in Norwich, Connecticut.  His lengthy advertisement extended more than half a column in the New-London Gazette, cataloging an array of textiles, housewares, hardware, books, and other items in his inventory.  Prospective customers could see at a glance that Breed offered many choices to suit their tastes.

Breed was not the only merchant in Norwich who advertised in the New-London Gazette in the fall of 1771.  John B. Brimmer inserted his own notice in the November 8 edition, fortunate enough to have it appear as the first item on the first page.  A few months earlier, Brimmer ran advertisements that rivaled Breed’s in length and the number of goods enumerated, but that was no longer the case in his newest advertisement.  Instead, he “Informs his Customers, That he has just received from LONDON, A further Supply of Fall Goods” and asked readers to take into account his previous notices.  “[W]ith the other GOODS he has lately advertised,” Brimmer asserted, the new items from the latest shipment “make up perhaps, as compleat an Assortment as is to be met with at any Store in NORWICH.”

Even if readers did not recall the advertisements that Brimmer placed during the summer months, he attempted to distract prospective customers from assuming that Breed had a larger inventory just because his advertisement occupied so much space on the page.  Indeed, in the November 8 edition Breed’s advertisement began in one column and overflowed into another, giving the impression that it contained even more than it did.  Even though Brimmer was no stranger when it came to placing such elaborate advertisements, he opted for a less-is-more approach in drawing attention to his “further Supply of Fall Goods,” perhaps depending on his reputation for providing “as compleat an Assortment” to do the rest.