December 2

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

Dec 2 - 12:2:1767 Georgia Gazette“A FOUR SHEET MAP of SOUTH-CAROLINA and PART of GEORGIA”

This advertisement for a “FOUR SHEET MAP of SOUTH-CAROLINA and PART of GEORGIA” would have been quite familiar to regular readers of the Georgia Gazette. It had been appearing in the pages of that newspaper for more than a year. While James Johnston, the printer of the newspaper and purveyor of the map certainly wanted to sell copies he still had on hand after all that time, the advertisement also served another important purpose. In a publication that sometimes lacked sufficient content to fill its pages, Johnston frequently inserted the advertisement as filler.

That seems to have been the case in the December 2, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette. The issue consisted of three pages of news and a final page devoted to advertising. A variety of articles densely filled the first three pages, yet the final page featured significant amounts of white space as part of each advertisement. Notice the amount of space between the body of the advertisement and the lines that separated it from the advertisements printed before and after. That had not been part of the design two weeks earlier when Samuel Douglass and Company’s advertisement that extended more than an entire column forced the compositor to squeeze all of the other paid notices together, eliminating any hint of negative space. The text on the two pages given over to advertising in that issue appeared just as dense as the text of the news items.

In addition to Johnston’s perennial advertisement for a map of South Carolina and Georgia, many other advertisements in the December 2 issue previously ran in other issues (though none of them nearly as many times). Each had been modified to include white space before and after the body of the advertisement, stretching them out in order to fill the entire page. This did not require completely resetting the type, but it did transform portions of each advertisement into filler that helped the printer deliver a complete issue to subscribers. Beyond the revenues they generated, newspaper advertisements served other purposes for colonial printers.

June 17

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

Jun 17 - 6:17:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (June 17, 1767).

To be sold by the Printer of this paper …”

James Johnston’s advertisement for a “FOUR SHEET MAP of SOUTH-CAROLINA and PART of GEORGIA” would have looked very familiar to readers of the Georgia Gazette. It had been inserted frequently in that newspaper for quite some time, often on the final page alongside most other advertisements but other times on the second or third pages with news items. Although Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, certainly wished to sell copies of this map to interested customers, he also used this advertisement as filler to complete the page when he did not have sufficient news items and other commercial notices to do so. Subscribers and regular readers would have recognized it at a glance. The same was true of the notice immediately below it, an announcement that colonists could purchase all sorts of printed blanks at Johnston’s printing office. Again, the advertisement served dual purposes: attracting customers and filling the page. The latter was particularly efficient since type had already been set long ago for both advertisements. The printer resorted to the eighteenth-century version of cut-and-paste when laying out the pages of the Georgia Gazette each week.

For more information about the map (and to examine the map itself), see the previous entry that featured an earlier insertion of this advertisement in the August 27, 1766, edition of the Georgia Gazette. The methodology of the Adverts 250 Project usually precludes examining any advertisement more than once but allows for exceptions when doing so illuminates some aspect of eighteenth-century practices or consumer culture. In this case, an advertisement that practically became a permanent feature of the Georgia Gazette merited attention. Its frequency should not be misconstrued to suggest that Johnston was desperate to sell surplus copies of the map (though that might have also been the case). Instead, when read alongside the notice hawking printed blanks, this advertisement might better be interpreted as a device for completing the page or the issue when lacking other content.

August 27

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

Aug 27 - 8:27:1766 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (August 27, 1766).


James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, advertised a “FOUR SHEET MAP of SOUTH-CAROLINA and PART of GEORGIA,” a resource that would have been particularly valuable to readers of his newspaper. Although Johnston likely printed the “COMPLETE SETS of ALL the LAWS of this PROVINCE” promoted elsewhere in his advertisement, the map most certainly had been imported from England.

In fact, the map had been produced in London nearly a decade earlier by mapmaker William Gerard de Brahm and engraver Thomas Jefferys. Historians of cartography have described the 1757 map as the most important map of South Carolina and Georgia created during the colonial period. In The Southeast in Early Maps (1958), William P. Cumming noted, “For the first time, for any large area of the southern colonies, a map possesses topographical accuracy based on scientific surveys.”

Aug 27 - Map
William Gerard de Brahm, Map of South-Carolina and Part of Georgia, engraved by Thomas Jeffreys (London: 1757).  Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps.

The advertisement made clear that the map had been carefully constructed by collating surveys conducted by William Bull, Captain Gascoign, Hugh Bryan, and William de Brahm (though it did not indicate that de Brahm had been appointed surveyor general of Georgia in 1754). The map accurately included the variety of features listed in the advertisement (“the whole sea coast, all the islands, islets, rivers, creeks, parishes, townships, boroughs, roads, and bridges” as well as the boundary lines of several plantations), making it a vast improvement over previous maps.

Johnston cannot be credit with composing copy that promoted the most useful and important features of the map. The entire description in the advertisement came directly from the title printed on the map itself. De Brahm had already embedded the necessary marketing text on the product itself!