December 14

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (December 14, 1772).

“The underwritten certificate, from one well known in New-York, and now in perfect health.”

James Rivington is best remembered today as a Loyalist printer who published a newspaper during the era of the American Revolution.  Before he launches his newspapers, he often placed advertisements for “KEYSER’s PILLS” in other newspapers published in New York in the early 1770s.  Whether or not they published newspapers, printers frequently stocked patent medicines, along with books, stationery, and writing supplies, to generate additional revenues.  That being the case, colonizers would not have considered it unusual to encounter advertisements in which Rivington hawked a medicine to those afflicted with venereal disease.

In an advertisement that ran in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury for several weeks in late November and early December 1772, the printer advised that “Any Person desirous of being made more particularly acquainted” with the efficacy of Keyser’s Pills “than can be decently communicated in an Advertisement” could discuss the remedy with him and then “try a Method the easiest and safest, and so secret that the Patient may be cured” without anyone “harbouring the least Suspicion” of their “lamentable Circumstances.”  Yet Keyser’s Pills had an ameliorative effect on more than just venereal diseases.  Rivington devoted a section of his advertisement to how the pills had “Great Effects” on “THE RHEUMATISM” and concluded by noting that they would “cure a Negro in the worst Stage of the Yeaws.”

On December 14, Rivington placed a new version of his advertisement.  He asserted that Keyser’s Pills were so effective in alleviating “every appearance of the venereal distemper” that “persons tormented with other diseases” made “tryals” of the pills.  Those patients included William Shipman, “well known in New-York,” who “was a long time the verist of cripples” but now, as a result of taking Keyser’s Pills, was “in perfect health.”  Rivington referred readers to a “Copy of W. Shipman’s certificate” or testimonial that provided an overview of his suffering as a result of being “so violently afflicted with the rheumatism,” his disappointment with other medicines, his decision to “make trial of Dr. Keyser’s pills,” and the “suprizing relief” that he began experiencing after only two weeks.  Shipman continued taking the pills “without any other consequence but that happy one of being restored to perfect health and ease.”

Shipman’s testimonial comprised half of Rivington’s advertisement, indicating that the printer believed it would effectively market Keyser’s pills to prospective patients.  Rivington acknowledged that Shipman “took a great many of the pills, which made his cure expensive.”  Yet the effectiveness justified the expense.  The “health, strength and agility” that Shipman “now enjoys,” Rivington argued, “is an ample compensation for the purchase money.”  Consumers could acquire “boxes of Ten, Twenty, and Forty Shillings each” as they made their own “tryals” of the pills and determined how much they wished to invest.  Rivington likely intended that Shipman’s testimonial about taking the pills over a period of several months would convince customers to purchase in larger quantities in hopes of achieving the same results.

November 16

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 16, 1772).

“SABLE MUFFS and TIPPETS.”

When furrier John Siemon returned to New York in the fall of 1772 after having spent several months in Philadelphia, he announced his intention to remain in the busy port with advertisements in at least two of the newspapers published in the city, the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury and the New-York Journal.  (Unfortunately, the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy has not been digitized, making it more difficult to consult.)  Siemon inserted identical copy in the two newspapers, first in the New-York Journal on November 12 and then in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury on November 16, though the compositors in the printing offices made different decisions about the format of the advertisements.

Despite differences in typography, an image of a muff remained consistent between the notices in the two newspapers.  Upon examining digitized editions, it appears that the printing offices used the same woodcut, which suggests that Siemon invested some effort in having that woodcut transferred from one printing office to another.  He may have retrieved it himself or he may have made arrangements with the printers to exchange the woodcut.  Either way, that resulted in some inconvenience in the printing offices, especially since Siemon’s advertisement did not run just once.  A notation at the end of his advertisement in the New-York Journal, “58 61,” indicated that he initially intended for the notice to run for four issues from “NUMB. 1558” to “NUMB. 1561.”  According to the colophon, that was a standard run: “Five Shillings, four Weeks.”  The advertisement actually ended up running through “NUMB. 1566” on January 7, 1773, for a total of nine consecutive weeks.

In contrast, Siemon’s advertisement ran in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury for only four weeks.  After the first insertion, the image no longer adorned the notice, further evidence that the furrier commissioned only one woodcut rather than one for each printing office.  After moving the woodcut from one printing office to another and back again when he first began advertising in the middle of November, Siemon may have decided that he did not have the time to oversee its transfer between the two printing offices twice a week.  Alternately, the printers may have made the decision for the furrier, determining that adding and removing the woodcut from type already set each time they took an issue to press was too disruptive.  Either way, Siemon likely had to settle for the image appearing in his advertisements the first time they ran in each newspaper, drawing attention to his return to New York, and then continuing in only one of those publications.

November 9

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 9, 1772).

“L / Leather dog collars / [Leather] Bottle stands.”

Several merchants, shopkeepers, and other entrepreneurs included lengthy lists of their merchandise in the November 9, 1772, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.  Richard Sause, a cutler, listed scores of items in a dense advertisement that consisted of a single paragraph.  William Neilson did as well.  John Morton resorted to two dense paragraphs, a longer one for his general merchandise and a shorter one with a headline, “CHINA,” to direct prospective customers to those items.

In contrast, other advertisers attempted to make it easier for readers to navigate their notices and spot items of interest by dividing their advertisements into two columns with only one item per line.  Shaw and Long published a short advertisement for wine, beer, spirits, tea, and groceries that featured two columns.  Robert G. Livingston, Jr., stocked all sorts of textiles and housewares, neatly arranged in two columns in a lengthy advertisement.  Similarly, William Prince, a gardener, listed a “large collection of Fruit Trees” as well as “Timber trees and flowering shrubs” in an advertisement that extended an entire column.  He included headers for various kinds of trees, ranging from “Apricots” to “Pears” to “Apples.”  Prince also gave prices for some of his trees.

Among those advertisements, William Bayley experimented with another method of making his merchandise accessible to prospective customers.  In addition to using two columns with one item per line, the merchant also alphabetized his wares.  In 1772, that approach was rather extraordinary.  Booksellers occasionally took that approach in their newspaper notices and book catalogs, but not always.  Merchants, shopkeepers, and others beyond the book trades, however, did not alphabetize their wares, making Bayley’s approach innovative.

Bayley inserted headers for each category, starting with “B” for “BATH stove grates” and “Brass ditto.”  (Advertisers often saved space by deploying ditto.  Readers knew that Bayley meant “Brass stove grates” as an alternative to “BATH stove grates.”)  He concluded with “W” for “Wire fenders,” the only item under that letter.  Bayley did not strictly adhere to alphabetization under the various headers.  For instance, “Copper sauce pans” appeared under “C” before “Cases with silver handle knives and forks.”  The various “Brass” and “Japan’d” items also appeared in groups but not alphabetized.  “Brass headed shovels & tongs” ran above “— Dog collars” and “Japan’d tea tables” ran above “Plate Warmers.”  Each category was short enough that Bayley likely did not consider it necessary to be rigid about alphabetizing the items under each header.

Bayley devised a format that made his advertisement more readable for consumers while also directing them to similar and related items.  He may not have been the first to introduce readers to an alphabetized list of general merchandise, but few advertisers had used that method when Bayley experimented with it in 1772.  Even if prospective customers did not require the aid of alphabetization in advertisements, Bayley still delivered a format that differentiated his newspaper notice from others, perhaps making it memorable as a result.

October 26

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

Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 26, 1772).

“JAMES RIVINGTON Takes Leave to exhibit a second Advertisement of Articles just imported in the Rose.”

Bookseller and shopkeeper James Rivington placed two advertisements in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercuryafter receiving new inventory via the Rose in the fall of 1772.  In the first, he listed dozens of titles, including “Grotius on War and Peace,” “a new Edition of Salmon’s Geographical Grammar,” and “the whole Works of the inimitable Painter Hogarth, in one Volume, with all the Plates he published.”  In addition, he stocked “a fine Assortment of venerable Law Books,” “a fine Assortment of Classicks,” and magazines published in London.  Like so many other newspaper notices placed by booksellers, Rivington’s advertisement served as a book catalog adapted to a different format.

Rivington devoted his second advertisement to other merchandise, stating that he “Takes Leave to exhibit” an additional entry in the public prints to advise prospective customers about “Articles just imported in the Rose, Capt. Miller, different from his literary Exhibition of this Day.”  That advertisement featured a variety of items and marketing strategies.  In a single paragraph, it had sections for musical instruments, patent medicines, clothing, and swords for “Those Gentlemen who propose to take the Field.”

Rather than merely list the patent medicines, Rivington inserted testimonials to assure consumers they were authentic: “Turlington’s Balsam: We certify that the Balsam advertised and sold by Mr. James Rivington, is the genuine sort purchased from us, made from the Receipt left by Mr. Turlington, to us, MARY WRAY, MARY TAPP.”  Similarly, prospective customers interested in “Anderson’s Scots Pills” did not need to worry about counterfeits.  Another testimonial stated, “I do certify that the Scot’s Pills sold by Mr. Rivington of New-York, are genuine, INGLIS.”  The layout of the advertisement did not call particular attention to these testimonials, but readers expecting a list of merchandise likely noted that Rivington departed from the usual format.

Rivington also devised a section about “elegant small Swords of all kinds.”  He listed several varieties, including “Cutteaus De Chase, Seymaters, Light Infantry, Cut and Thrust, &c.”  He concluded with the common abbreviation for et cetera to suggest that he carried even more swords.  To entice customers to examine the swords, he proclaimed that they were “the most beautiful … that ever were offered to Sale in this City.”  Rivington anticipated that customers interested in “superfine ribb’d Worsted Stockings for the wear of Gentlemen, of the best and newest Fashions” in another section of the advertisement would desire attractive swords that enhanced their attire.

A newspaper advertisement did not provide sufficient space for Rivington to tout all of his wares.  He concluded with a note that he “has many more Articles, of which a Catalogue is printing.”  Did that catalog provide commentary about any of those goods, whether blurbs about the clothing, swords, and musical instruments or additional testimonials about the patent medicines?  In a third advertisement in the supplement that accompanied the October 26, 1772, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, Rivington included a testimonial about the “PATENT SHOT” he sold.  With more space available in a catalog, he may have elaborated on some of his merchandise in greater detail.

September 27

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (September 21, 1772).

“As yet there has not appeared an American Edition of this valuable Piece, what few came over were soon snatch’d up.”

Thomas Nixon sold several books at “his Shop at the Fly-Market” in New York in the fall of 1772.  In an advertisement in the September 21, 1772, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury he promoted “THE celebrated Lecture on HEADS, by George Alexander Stevens” and “the Devil upon Crutches in England, or the Night Scenes in London, a satirical Work, written upon the Plan of the celebrated Diable Boiteua of Monsieur La Sage, by a Gentleman of Oxford.”  Both books had been published in Philadelphia, The Celebrated Lecture on Heads by Samuel Dellap, whose name appeared just as prominently in the advertisement as Nixon’s own, and The Devil upon Crutches by William Evitt. According to Isaiah Thomas, Dellap traveled frequently between Philadelphia and New York, transporting books from each location for sale in the other.

Nixon composed an advertisement that deployed the popularity of those works to market them to consumers in New York.  To entice readers to purchase Stevens’s satire on fashion and physiognomy, Nixon proclaimed, “These Lectures have been exhibited in London upwards of One Hundred successive Nights, to crowded Audiences, and met with the most universal Applause.”  Consumers could experience that sensation themselves, though tangentially, by acquiring their own copies of the “celebrated Lecture.”  The advertisement went into even greater detail about audience reception of The Devil upon Crutches.  “This Satyre,” Nixon explained, “is universally approved of by all Ranks of People in Europe, and all those Parts of America where it has made its Appearance.”  The bookseller attempted to use the strength of sales elsewhere to influence local consumers, reporting that “six large Impressions were struck off in London in one Year, besides several other Impressions printed in Dublin and Edinburgh.” A few copies found their way to the colonies, met with such demand that they “were soon snatch’d up, tho’ sold at no less Price than 5s.”  Rather than five shillings, Nixon offered the first American edition of only two shillings, surely a bargain for readers who wanted to partake in the phenomenon of The Devil upon Crutches.

Today, publishers regularly cite bestseller lists and the number of copies sold in their efforts to convince consumers to purchase books that have already achieved widespread popularity.  Nixon devised a version of that strategy when he marketed The Celebrated Lecture on Heads and The Devil upon Crutches in New York during the era of the American Revolution.

August 31

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 31, 1772).

To the LADIES of New-York.”

Although newspaper editorials depicted women as consumers who gave into luxury, relatively few colonial merchants and shopkeepers addressed women directly in their advertisements.  Instead, most presented their merchandise for the consideration of both men and women, encouraging prospective customers of both sexes to participate in the consumer revolution.

Jane Willson did target women in her advertisement in the August 31, 1772, edition of the News-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.  The first line of her notice requested attention from “the LADIES of New-York” before launching into a description of “A GREAT VARIETY OF BEAUTIFUL japan’d goods, with cream colour’d grounds, and other colours of the newest taste.”  Willson referred to items decorated in imitation of East Asian lacquerware, a popular style in England and its American colonies in the eighteenth century.  She imported “tea trays and waiters, tea chests completed with canisters, tea kitchens, and compleat tea tables” decorated with “well painted landskips [landscapes], human figures, fruit and flowers.”  Willson underscored that she carried new designs, “some of them only finished last May, at Birmingham, and imported to New-York” on the Hope earlier that month.   Consumers could not obtain any similar items of newer design.  Willson offered “the LADIES of New-York” cutting-edge fashion when it came to japanned ware.

Although most of her advertisement focused on those items, Willson did not seek female customers exclusively.  She also carried “some holster pistols, and a few oil’d hat covers for gentlemen’s use,” likely anticipating that once men entered her shop they might browse and purchase the japanned items or other items that she stocked.  Even if some male customers did not wish to seem too eager to examine tea tables and tea chests, the pistols and hat covers gave them plausible reasons for their initial visits to Willson’s shop.  Even an advertisement addressed “To the LADIES of New-York” presented possibilities for men to enjoy the pleasures of shopping and acquiring decorative wares for their homes.

July 13

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (July 13, 1772).

“All sorts of knives and forks, pocket and penknives.”

Lucas and Shephard, “WHITESMITHS and CUTLERS, From BIRMINGHAM and SHEFFIELD,” enhanced their advertisement in the July 13, 1772, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury with a woodcut that depicted many of the items they made and sold at their new location in “the shop lately occupied by Messrs. Bailey and Youle.” Lucas and Shephard provided an extensive list of their wares, making the combination of words and image an eighteenth-century precursor to the illustrated catalogs that so significantly shaped consumer culture in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Lucas and Shephard followed the lead of other cutlers in New York.  Previously, Bailey and Youle adorned their own advertisements with a woodcut that depicted more than a dozen items they produced in the shop.  When the partnership dissolved, James Youle retained the woodcut, modified it to remove his former partner’s name, and inserted it in advertisements in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury in June and July 1772.  Lucas and Shepard began running their advertisement two weeks after Youle’s notice ran on June 29.  It was not the first time that the woodcut that accompanied one of Youle’s advertisements may have inspired imitation.  In April 1771, Richard Sause ran advertisements with a woodcut that showed all sorts of cutlery items that he made at his shop just a few weeks after Bailey and Youle’s notice appeared in the public prints.  A sword and a table knife even bore his name, suggesting that he marked his work in some manner.

Like those cutlers who placed advertisements before them, Lucas and Shephard deployed a variety of appeals to entice prospective customers.  They emphasized their skill, promising “great accuracy” in their work, and a “reasonable price.”  They also made a nod to customer services, pledging to “carry on their business with dispatch” in order “to give satisfaction to all who may please to employ them.  The image increased the likelihood that readers would take note of their advertisement, especially considering Youle continued running his own advertisements with depictions of his cutlery ware.  Lucas and Shephard may have considered their own woodcut imperative for competing with Youle, a necessary investment when they chose to advertise in a newspaper in which he already established visibility for his shop.

June 10

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

Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (June 8, 1772).

“The Post of Mr. SIMNETT’s Dial is white, to distinguish it.”

John Simnet, a watchmaker, ran several advertisements in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury and the New-York Journal in the spring of 1772.  In several of them, he pursued a feud with another watchmaker, James Yeoman, but he did not make any new insinuations about his competitor in a notice that appeared in the Gazette on June 8.  In the most aggressive portion of the advertisement, Simnet declared that it was “beneath the Character of a qualified Workman, to extract an Annuity by repairing Watches over and over again.”  Such commentary did not apply exclusively to Yeoman or any other rival.  Simnet had a long history of accusing most watchmakers of creating work for themselves by making repairs intended to last for only a short time.

Simnet devoted most of this advertisement to promoting various aspects of his own business rather than denigrating Yeoman or other watchmakers.  He boasted about his credentials, noting that “during the Term of Apprenticeship” he served as “Finisher to Mr. Webster, Exchange Alley, London.”  He also underscored his availability to greet customers “from Five in the Morning till Six in the Evening.”  In addition, he listed prices for several common services, such as “Joining a broken Spring or Chain Two Shillings” and a “new Main Spring either Six or Eight Shillings,” so prospective customers could assess the bargains for themselves.  To guide them in doing so, Simnet asserted that he set rates “at HALF the Price charg’d by any other” and explained that his customers did not have to worry about “future Expence,” those annual repairs.

The watchmaker did insert one clarification that did not previously appear in other variations of his advertisement that spring.  Apparently, another watchmaker set up shop in the vicinity, prompting Simnet to give more explicit directions to his own location.  “As there is now another of the Trade adjoining,” he explained, “please with Care to observe the Place; the Post of Mr. SIMNETT’s Dial is white, to distinguish it, and his Shop is low, aside the Coffee-House Bridge, but not the Corner.”  In a previous advertisement, he described the device that marked his shop as “the Black Dial, with a White Post.”  A competitor may have marked his own shop with a similar device, causing Simnet to focus on the color of the post.  Readers familiar with the usual tone in Simnet’s advertisements may have wondered how much time would elapse before he published more colorful commentary about “another of the Trade” with a shop so close to his own.

May 4

GUEST CURATOR: Tyler Reid

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

Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (May 4, 1772).

“Be cautious, there are many … counterfeit watches … so bad they cannot be rendered useful.”

John Simnet, a clock- and watchmaker, created this advertisement.  It displays a competitive market in 1772. Simnet emphasizes his “Term of Apprenticeship to Mr. Webster, Exchange Alley, London.”  He thought that his qualifications mattered.  He also mentioned his expertise in cleaning watches and fitting glasses. These skills mattered.  In an article about clocks and clockmakers in eighteenth-century Philadelphia, Michelle Smiley states that clockmaking “was considered an intellectual profession requiring great artisanal skill and scientific knowledge.”  In addition, “the mathematical precision and mechanical intricacy of the profession put it at a superior rank to the crafts of blacksmithing and carpentry.”  In his advertisement, Simnet had a big ego about his skill and knowledge, especially being trained in England and voyaging to the colonies.  He also complained about “counterfeit Watches … so bad they cannot be rendered useful.”  He believed that colonists should be careful when buying watches from others because they might end up receiving broken merchandise.  He wanted customers to think of him as reliable, as someone who sold only good watches that worked well.  According to his advertisements, they could trust him because of his training in England.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

When students in my classes submit their proposed advertisements for approval before moving to the research and writing phases of contributing the Adverts 250 Project, I often recognize the advertisers because I have already perused the newspapers to identify which notices belong in the Slavery Adverts 250 Project.  I did not simply recognize the advertiser that Tyler selected for his entry.  Instead, John Simnet has become very familiar to me over the past three years as I have traced his advertisements in the New-Hampshire Gazette in 1769 and 1770 and then in newspapers published in New York in the early 1770s.  I consider Simnet the most notorious of the advertisers featured on the Adverts 250 Project because he regularly disseminated negative advertisements that demeaned his competitors as much as they promoted his own skill, expertise, training, and experience.  In both Portsmouth and New York, he participated in bitter feuds with competitors in the public prints, sometimes demeaning character as well as their abilities.

Tyler was not yet familiar with Simnet when he selected this advertisement, one of several variations that Simnet published in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury and the New-York Journal in the spring of 1772.  He chose it because the headline for “WATCHES” caught his interest.  He wanted to learn more about clock- and watchmakers in early America.  This presented an opportunity for me to once again dovetail my teaching and my research, a pedagogical moment that could not be planned in advance when inviting students to select any advertisements they wished to feature.  They usually focus on a single advertisement, an appropriate approach for students working this intensively with primary sources for the first time.  They make all sorts of connections between their advertisements and commerce, politics, and daily life in eighteenth-century America.  Yet we have fewer opportunities to examine the advertisers and their marketing campaigns.  When Tyler chose Simnet’s advertisement from among the hundreds that he might have selected from the first week of May 1772, that gave all the students in my Revolutionary America class a chance to hear more about the clock- and watchmaker’s long history of placing cantankerous advertisements that deviated from the norms of the period.  This context better humanized Simnet, even if it did not make him particularly likeable.  Each advertisement represents a snapshot of a particular moment in the past, but I also underscored the value of examining multiple advertisements, placed over weeks or even years, as a means of constructing an even more robust understanding of the experiences of the advertisers and their world.

April 15

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 13, 1772).

“Such Alterations which don’t engage much Time, GRATIS.”

John Simnet, a watchmaker, placed rather colorful newspaper advertisements over the course of several years in the late 1760s and 1770s, first in the New-Hampshire Gazette and later in newspapers published in New York.  During the time that he resided in New Hampshire, he engaged in nasty feud with a fellow watchmaker, Nathaniel Sheaff Griffith.  Having trained and worked in London, Simnet accused Griffith of not possessing the same level of skill and suggested that Griffith actually damaged the watches he attempted to repair.  In a series of advertisements, Simnet denigrated Griffith’s character, intellect, and skill.

That rivalry may have played a part in Simnet’s decision to relocate to New York.  He once again turned to the public prints to promote his business.  For a time, he focused primarily on his own credentials and expertise, but old habits died hard.  Simnet eventually found himself embroiled in another feud with a fellow watchmaker, though James Yeoman appears to have been the first to pursue their disagreement in print with an advertisement that seemed to critique Simnet’s credentials without naming him.  Given his personality, Simnet may have initiated the insults in person before the dispute moved into advertisements in the newspapers.  Regardless of who started it, Simnet had extensive experience demeaning a competitor in print.  In March 1772, he deployed some of the same strategies that he used against Griffith a few years earlier.

Even though he could not resist placing negative advertisements about Yeoman, Simnet may have learned from his experience in New Hampshire that consumers did not respond well to marketing campaigns that revolved entirely around disparaging others.  In his next advertisement, published in the April 13, 1772, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, he returned to the kinds of appeals that he incorporated into his notices when he first arrived in New York.  He gave prospective customers a careful accounting of how much they could expect to pay for various goods and services, such as “a new Chain Six Shillings” and “the Price of joining a broken Spring or Chain Two Shillings.”  He also promoted his prices while offering a guarantee, stating that he set rates for “every particular Article in repairing, at HALF the Price charg’d by any other, and no future Expence while the Materials, that is, Wheels and Pinions will endure.”  Simnet declared that it was “beneath the Character of a qualified Workman, to extract an Annuity by repairing Watches over and over again.”  That may have been a subtle critique of his many competitors, but not a targeted attack on Yeoman or any other watchmaker in New York.  To draw customers to his shop, Simnet also offered “such Alterations which don’t engage much Time, GRATIS.”

Simnet has been a fascinating character to track over the past three years, in large part because he deviated so significantly from one of the standard advertising practices of the period.  He sometimes placed advertisements that vilified his rivals rather than focusing on his expertise and experience.  Yet Simnet did not always go negative.  He also published advertisements that incorporated the tone and appeals usually found in newspaper notices by artisans.  In some cases, he also crafted innovative appeals, including free services to entice prospective customers into his shop in hopes of establishing relationships with them.  As an advertiser, he covered a greater range of appeals, positive and negative, than just about anyone else marketing their goods and services in the colonies in the decade before the American Revolution.