December 20

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (December 20, 1771).

Every Gentleman who holds and Office … ought and will furnish himself with one.”

A week after first advertising “A Civil, Military & Ecclesiastical REGISTER of the Province of New-Hampshire, for the YEAR 1772” in the New-Hampshire Gazette, Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle updated their advertisement.  The original version announced publication of the pamphlet and listed its contents, but did not make any direct appeals to prospective customers.  The Fowles remedied that in the subsequent iteration by adding six new lines following the contents.  On one line, they advised readers, “Price half a Pistereen only,” letting them know that acquiring a copy was indeed affordable.

The other appeal addressed the many officeholders whose names appeared in the Register, everyone from “Judges and Officers of the Superior Court, and Courts of Admiralty” and “Justices of the Peace through the Province and for each County” to “Custom House Officers and Notaries Public” and “Sheriffs, Judges and Registers of Probate, Recorders of Deeds and Treasurers of each County” to “Field Officers of the several Regiments in each County” and “Ministers … of the several Denominations in each County.”  The Fowles decreed that “Every Gentleman who holds and Office, and has the Honor of having it recorded in the above Register, undoubtedly ought and will furnish himself with one.”  For local officials, this was an opportunity to see their names listed alongside those of “the Governor, Council and House of Representatives.”  The Fowles saw the various officeholders as a likely customer base for the publication, but they also encouraged others to purchase a copy “in order rightly to know their Superiors.”  The Fowles probably did not mean, at least not exclusively, that colonists needed to recognize the officeholders among them in order to show proper deference; instead, “rightly [knowing] their Superiors” may have also referred to knowing who to contact with concerns and requests in order to maintain good government throughout the colony.

Apparently, neither those who held office nor “other Persons” heeded the call to buy their own copies in sufficient numbers to convince the Fowles to publish a Register for 1773 or any subsequent year.  The disruptions of the imperial crisis and the American Revolution may have also played a role in such decisions.  They experimented with offering a product to consumers, but even after tinkering with their advertising did not manage to generate a robust market for it.

December 13

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (December 13, 1771).

“A Civil, Military & Ecclesiastical REGISTER of the Province of New-Hampshire, for the YEAR 1772.”

Each year as fall turned to winter, readers regularly encountered advertisements for almanacs in colonial American newspapers.  Printers often listed the contents as a means of enticing prospective customers to purchase particular titles, emphasizing the range of useful or entertaining items included in one publication or another.  In 1771, Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, the printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette gathered together a variety of useful information that might otherwise have appeared in an almanac in a separate pamphlet.  They advertised their “Civil, Military & Ecclesiastical REGISTER of the Province of New-Hampshire, for the YEAR 1772” in their newspaper.

The bulk of their advertisement consisted of an enumeration of the contents, everything from a “List of the Governor, Council and House of Representatives” and “Judges and Officers of the Superiour Court, and Court of Admiralty” to “Barristers of Law and Practising Attornies with their respective Places of Residence” and “Custom House Officers and Notaries Public” to “Trustees and Officers of Dartmouth-College” and “Ministers, Churches and religious Assemblies of the several Denominations in each County.”  The pamphlet also included directions along several roads “with the most noted Houses of Entertainment” for those who needed to travel within the colony for one reason or another.

The Civil, Military and Ecclesiastical Register apparently did not meet with as much success as the Fowles hoped.  They did not update it and publish a new edition for 1773 nor for any subsequent year.  Thomas Fleet and John Fleet printed and sold a register for New Hampshire in 1779, folding it into A Pocket Almanack for the Year of our Lord 1780 … Calculated for the use of the State of Massachusetts Bay in New-England.  Following the American Revolution, George Jerry Osborne published Osborne’s New-Hampshire Register with an Almanack, for the Year 1787, yet another pamphlet that merged the elements of an almanac with those of a register.  Osborne published registers with almanacs for 1788 and 1789.  Others also appeared on the market before the end of the century.  Perhaps the Fowles would have attempted to revive their register if it had not been for the disruptions of the American Revolution.  The register for 1772 testified to their interest in such a project, provided that it found enough buyers willing to purchase it.