What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“WILLIAM BOWER … continues to carry on the CLOCK and WATCH-MAKING BUSINESS.”
“KATHARINE BOWER … carries on the MILLINARY BUSINESS.”
When clock- and watch-maker William Bower moved to a new location, he placed an advertisement in the January 19, 1773, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to inform current and prospective customers. Now located “next door to The Great Stationary and Book Store,” he continued to offer the same services “as cheap and expeditiously done, as by any [other clock- and watchmaker] in the province.” Katharine Bower, a milliner, also advised the public that she moved to a new location “where she carries on the MILLINARY BUSINESS in all its branches, and will be much obliged to her friends for a continuance of their favours.” William and Katharine, presumably husband and wife, but possibly otherwise related, now ran businesses from the same location at “the store the fourth corner of Tradd-street and the Bay, lately possessed by Messrs. Mackenzie & Tunno.” Previously, William had a workshop on Broad Street, while Katharine kept shop on Church Street.
In addition to sharing a store at the corner of Tradd Street and the Bay, William and Katharine also advertised together, purchasing a “square” of space in one of the local newspapers. Husbands and wives (and other male and female relatives) who pursued separate occupations sometimes did so, especially in newspapers published in Charleston. Those advertisements tended to adhere to certain patterns. The husband or other male relative usually appeared first, followed by his wife or other female relative. In some instances, the female entrepreneur appeared only in a brief note at the end of the advertisement. In this case, however, both William and Katharine had headlines in larger fonts that made their names visible to readers. William had a secondary headline that gave his occupation, “CLOCK and WATCH MAKER,” while Katharine did not. Even when female entrepreneurs were not relegated to a short note, the amount of space devoted to promoting the husband’s business usually exceeded that amount of space for the wife’s business. At a glance, that looked like the case in the Bowers’ advertisement. However, much of the additional space in William’s portion of the notice gave extensive directions to the new shop, directions that Katharine did not need to repeat. Katharine did not make as elaborate appeals about price and customer service as William, but she did encourage existing customers to visit her at her new location.
The Bowers pooled their resources to insert an advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. Their notice gave preference to William by listing his business first and including a secondary headline that listed his occupation, but this did not overshadow Katharine’s enterprise as much as some other advertisements placed jointly by men and women. Katharine’s name appeared as a headline in the same size font as William’s name and, aside from the directions to the new location, the details about her business occupied a similar amount of space. In general, the notice communicated that both William and Katharine were competent entrepreneurs responsible for their own participation in the marketplace.