What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today?
“A penny in the pound cheaper than done in Savannah.”
In an advertisement published in the Georgia Gazette, John Hyatt, a blacksmith from Pennsylvania, announced that he had set up shop on the plantation belonging to George Cuthbert. (Presumably this address was sufficient for potential customers to know where to find Hyatt.) Colonists were accustomed to high rates of mobility in the 1760s. New settlers were arriving from England and other parts of Europe at increasing rates after the Seven Years War ended. People who already lived in the colonies moved around, from town to town or from colony to colony, in search of new opportunities. Georgia was a long way from Pennsylvania. Hyatt was just one of many colonists who participated in internal migration within Britain’s colonies in mainland North America.
Relatively new to Georgia, Hyatt used his advertisement to promote his occupation and convince potential customers to patronize him rather than his competitors. He made many of the usual claims, promising to fulfill orders “in the neatest and best manner, with the greatest dispatch.” He also listed a variety of different kinds of work he could do – “mill work, ship work, edge tools of any kind, northward plough irons of different sorts” – and made a blanket statement about being able to complete “any other branch of country work whatsoever.” No matter the job, Hyatt wanted potential customers to know that he could handle it.
His most original appeal, however, appeared in the final line of his advertisement. He pledged that the tools, ploughs, and other goods made in his shop were “as penny in the pound cheaper than done in Savannah.” Appeals to price were common, but offering to beat competitors’ prices (and by how much) was not a standard part of advertisements in the 1760s. Potential customers might have dismissed the first series of appeals as formulaic, but Hyatt’s final appeal to specific lower prices may have convinced them to give the newcomer a chance.