October 24

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

New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (October 22, 1770).

“THE two First PARTS of the LIFE of the late Rev. Mr. GEORGE WHITEFIELD.”

News of George Whitefield’s death in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on September 30, 1770, quickly spread.  Articles about the passing of one of the most famous and influential ministers associated with the religious revivals now known as the Great Awakening appeared in several newspapers published in Boston the following day.  Coverage then radiated out to newspapers published in other towns in New England and then beyond.  A little over three weeks later, newspapers printed in Charleston delivered the news to residents of South Carolina, reprinting articles that first appeared in Boston’s newspapers.

Coverage of Whitefield’s death was not limited to news articles.  Printers inserted poems in memory of the minister as well as advertisements for commemorative items, broadsides featuring images, hymns, and verses that celebrated Whitefield.  Such commodification commenced almost immediately in New England.  An article in the October 4, 1770, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter ended with a notice of a “FUNERAL HYMN” written by Whitefield with the intention that it would be “sung over his Corpse by the Orphans belonging to his Tabernacle in London, had he died there” was on sale at Green and Russell’s printing office.  All five newspapers published in Boston as well as the Essex Gazette in Salem and the New-Hampshire Gazette in Portsmouth soon ran advertisements for various commemorative broadsides.

Yet the rapid commodification of Whitefield’s death was not confined to New England.  Two newspapers, the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury and the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy, broke the news on October 8, just a week after it first appeared in Boston’s newspapers.  Both publications reprinted items from other newspapers and inserted extracts of letters received from correspondents in Massachusetts.  In its next issue, the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy included its first advertisement that sought to capitalize on the minister’s death.  Garrat Noel, a bookseller who frequently advertised his wares, placed a notice that highlighted two publications related to Whitefield before listing various other titles he offered for sale.  He informed prospective customers that he carried “THE two First PARTS of the LIFE of the late Rev. Mr. GEORGE WHITEFIELD, written by himself,” works originally published three decades earlier that now resonated with consumers in new ways in the wake of the minister’s passing.  Noel also had in stock “Mr. WHITEFIELD’S Collection of HYMNS, The Thirteenth Edition.”  Whitefield’s death allowed for new marketing opportunities for popular items already in the bookseller’s inventory.

Noel’s advertisements ran for several weeks, coinciding with continued coverage of Whitefield’s death as all three newspapers in New York continued to reprint items from other newspapers to give their subscribers and other readers more information about the minister’s death and funeral.  Noel almost certainly hoped that those news articles would help to incite interest in the books he offered for sale, coverage of current events buttressing his marketing efforts.  It was hardly a coincidence that he began highlighting books related to Whitefield so soon after such momentous news about the minister arrived in New York and appeared in the public prints.

August 13

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

Aug 13 - 8:13:1770 New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (August 13, 1770).

We shall just give the Sentiments of the Authors of the Monthly and Critical Review concerning it.”

Much of Garrat Noel’s advertisement in the August 13, 1770, edition of the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy looked like other advertisements placed by booksellers.  Divided into two columns, it listed some of the “VERY great Variety of BOOKS” that he sold.  With the titles organized mostly in alphabetical order, Noel’s advertisement was a book catalog adapted for publication as a newspaper advertisement.

For selected books, however, Noel did more than name the title and author.  He attempted to incite interest by appending short notes.  Rather than “Bunyan’s Works,” he stocked “Bunyan’s Works complete in 2 Vols Folio, finely adorned with elegant Copper Plates, among which is a neat Head of the Author.”  Not only did this two-volume set come with attractive images, it was also “Recommended by the Rev. Mr. WHITEFIELD,” one of the most influential ministers in the colonies.  Whitefield gained celebrity when he toured the colonies, preaching to exuberant crowds in cities and towns from Georgia to New England.  Noel deployed a different strategy in promoting “Boswell’s entertaining Account of Corsica.”  Rather than rely on a celebrity endorsement, he noted that readers themselves expressed great enthusiasm for this book.  It was “in so great Demand in London, that 7000 Copies of it sold in the Space of a few Months.”  Noel encouraged consumers in New York to follow the lead of their counterparts in London who had purchased so many copies.

Those additional notes were relatively short compared to Noel’s treatment of “The patriotic Mrs. McAULAY’S celebrated History of England from the Accession of JAMES I. to the Elevation of the House of HANOVER.”  Noel inserted his own puff piece and then followed it with reviews from two prominent magazines published in London.  “This HISTORY OF ENGLAND,” Noel proclaimed, “is universally approved, and for Beauty and Elegance of Diction, is esteemed one of the best written Histories in the English Language.”  Rather than take the bookseller’s word for it, prospective customers could consider “the Sentiments of the Authors of the Monthly and Critical Review concerning it.”  A lengthy blurb from the Monthly Review followed by a shorter blurb from the Critical Review appeared immediately below Noel’s recommendation of the book.  Promotion of Macaulay’s History of England comprised one-quarter of the space devoted to listing the titles available at Noel’s bookstore.  It extended the same length as nineteen books in the facing column, including “Bunyan’s Works” and “Boswell’s entertaining Account of Corsica” that each had shorter commentaries attached.

Noel sought to enhance demand for his wares by enhancing his list of titles with additional notes about some of them.  He hoped that endorsements by celebrity preachers like Whitefield, recommendations from literary critics from magazines like the Critical Review and the Monthly Review, and even sales figures from consumers in London would influence prospective customers in New York.  Booksellers’ catalogs and newspaper advertisements were not necessarily dry lists of titles in eighteenth-century America.  To greater or lesser extents, some booksellers did enhance the standard format in their efforts to win over consumers.

August 8

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

Aug 8 - 8:6:1770 Pennsylvania Chronicle
Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 6, 1770).

“The FLYING MACHINE.”

Partners John Barnhill and John Mercereau took different approaches to adverting their stage wagon service between New York and Philadelphia in 1770.  Barnhill was responsible for operations in Philadelphia, while Mercereau ran his portion of the business in New York.  Presumably, each partner handled marketing in the city at his end of the circuit.

Barnhill placed a brief advertisement in the August 6, 1770, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle.  Extending only three lines, it announced that “The FLYING MACHINE, kept by JOHN BARNHILL in Elm-street, sets out for New-York, on Mondays and Thursdays, and performs the Journey in TWO DAYS.”  A small manicule directed readers to the notice, but otherwise it was unadorned.  (The printing ornaments below the advertisement were part of the colophon that appeared in every issue rather decoration Barnhill selected for his advertisement.)  Barnhill seemingly relied on an established reputation for the stage wagon, emphasizing the speed of the journey.  In just “TWO DAYS” passengers and freight practically flew to New York like birds in the wonderous “FLYING MACHINE” that Barnhill maintained.

Aug 8 - 8:6:1770 New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (August 6, 1770).

That same day, Mercereau placed a much more lavish advertisement in the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy.  It featured a woodcut depicting a covered wagon drawn by two horses.  A driver wielded a whip encouraged even greater speed, enhancing the image of horses and wagon in motion.  The woodcut occupied one-third of the space of the advertisement.  Except for the masthead and an image of a ship in another advertisement, this was the only image in that issue of the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy.  As a result, it likely attracted even greater attention to Mercereau’s advertisement.  (Absent other evidence, it would be tempting to assume that Mercereau made an additional investment to commission a unique woodcut to represent his business, but earlier in the year a competitor used a nearly identical image on the same page as Mercereau’s advertisement.  The presence of both suggests that they were lesser-used stock images that belonged to the printer, not unlike images of ships, houses, horses, and enslaved people.  See the July 23 and 30 editions.)

In the advertising copy, Mercereau acknowledged his partner “in Elm Street, in Philadelphia” and listed his sign, “the New Blazing-Star,” near New York as his address.  Like Barnhill, he conjured up impressions of speed, but with a blazing star or comet rather than a flying machine.  Mercereau provided a much more extensive overview of the schedule.  The stage wagons left both Philadelphia and Powles Hook Ferry across the river from New York at sunrise on Mondays and Thursdays.  They met at Princeton in the evening.  The following morning, the drivers exchanged passengers and freight before returning to their respective cities.  With that schedule in mind, Mercereau assured prospective clients that it was “very safe for any Person to send Goods” because with only two drivers “they may exchange their Goods without any Mistake” at the only stop along the route.  He also stressed that a round trip took only five days: two days to get to Philadelphia, then “two Nights and one Day to do their Business in” Philadelphia, and finally two days to return to New York.

Mercereau also promoted the “best of Waggons,” the “sober Drivers,” and “four Setts of fresh Horses” that made the journey comfortable, safe, and speedy for passengers and freight.  Furthermore, he promised that “this Road is much the shortest” between New York and Philadelphia.  He also listed the prices so prospective clients could determine the value for themselves.

Why did Barnhill and Mercereau take such different approaches to advertising their shared enterprise in Philadelphia’s newspapers and New York’s newspapers?  Perhaps Barnhill established a more robust clientele in Philadelphia than Mercereau had managed in New York.  No matter the reason, the advertisements placed in both cities provide greater detail for understanding the operations in each city.

June 20

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

Jun 20 - 6:18:1770 New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (June 18, 1770).

“She has been approved of by several Gentlemen of the Profession.”

When Mrs. Fisher, a midwife, moved to a new residence in the summer of 1770, she place an advertisement in the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy to let the public know where to find her.  She advised that she “is removed from the House at White-hall, to a House in Broad-Street, two Doors above Mr. Deane’s, Coach-Maker, and right opposite to Mr. Charles Philips’s.”  Although that information was important, Fisher may not have considered her location the most significant detail she included in her advertisement.  After all, she concluded her notice with a description of where to find her, but she first established her experience and other credentials.

Fisher commenced her advertisement by noting that she “has practiced MIDWIFERY in this City for several Years,” a reminder to “former Friends” who availed themselves of her services as well as an introduction to any readers not yet familiar with her reputation.  Yet Fisher realized that her extensive experience might not have been sufficient to convince prospective clients to hire her.  To enhance her standing, especially in the eyes of readers skeptical of women practicing any sort of medicine, even midwifery, Fisher declared that “she has been approved of by several Gentlemen of the Profession.”  Medicine became increasingly professionalized throughout the eighteenth century; in the process, women who had traditionally prepared and administered remedies for various ailments and provided other services, including midwifery, found themselves pushed to the margins, displaced by men who claimed greater expertise based on formal training.  Fisher may not have considered any of those “Gentlemen of the Profession” more capable of delivering children and caring for mothers throughout the process, but her advertisement suggests that she suspected prospective clients would at least feel reassured by an imprint of masculine authority.  In presenting her services to the public for consideration, Fisher conformed to some of the expectations she believed would yield more clients as she faced greater competition from the “Gentlemen of the Profession.”

December 4

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

Dec 4 - 12:4:1769 New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (December 4, 1769).

“Stage-Waggons.”

Eighteenth-century newspapers featured few visual images. Many had some sort of device in the masthead, but usually delivered the news unadorned. Advertisements sometimes included images, but those were the exception rather than the rule. Those that did have woodcuts relied on stock images that belonged to the printer, primarily ships for notices about vessels preparing to depart, horses for advertisements about breeding, houses for real estate notices, and men or women fleeing for advertisements about apprentices and indentured servants who ran away or enslaved people who escaped. Such woodcuts were used interchangeably for advertisements from the appropriate genre. Other images that accompanied advertisements usually appeared because advertisers commissioned a woodcut specific to their business, either replicating their shop signs or depicting their most notable products.

When Joseph Crane and Josiah F. Davenport turned to the pages of the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy to advertise the stagecoach service they operated between New York and Philadelphia, they included a woodcut depicting a team of horses pulling a covered wagon. This was not one of the standard stock images, suggesting that Crane and Davenport had commissioned it for exclusive use in their advertisements. However, in their advertisements for “Stage-Waggons” that ran between New York and Philadelphia, John Mercereau and John Barnhill published what appeared to be the same image. This was not merely a case of using the woodcut in an advertisement that appeared on one page and then using it again in another advertisement on a page printed on the other side of the sheet. In the December 4, 1769, edition of the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy, Crane and Davenport’s advertisement featuring the woodcut ran on the same page as Mercereau and Barnhill’s advertisement featuring the woodcut. They had to have been printed simultaneously, indicating that James Parker, the printer, possessed more than one woodcut depicting horses pulling wagons, just as he had multiple woodcuts of ships and houses. It seems unlikely that Crane and Davenport or Mercereau and Barnhill would have commissioned a woodcut that looked so nearly identical to one used by a competitor as to be indistinguishable. Apparently Parker’s collection of stock images was at least a little bit larger than the frequent reiteration of the most common woodcuts suggested. That did not, however, significantly alter the frequency of visual images accompanying either news or advertising in his newspaper. His publication, like other colonial newspapers, consisted almost exclusively of text and a limited number of stock images. That made any visual image, but especially those seen infrequently, all the more notable.

Dec 4 - 12:4:1769 Woodcuts New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (December 4, 1769).

September 11

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

Sep 11 - 9:11:1769 New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (September 11, 1769).

“Every Part of the Workmanship is AMERICAN.”

Bookseller Garrat Noel frequently inserted advertisements in newspapers published in New York in the late 1760s. In an advertisement that appeared in the September 11, 1769, edition of the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy, he promoted a “great Variety of Books and Stationary” available at his shop, highlighting three of them that he considered of special interest to prospective customers. The first was a political tract. The title also served as an overview of its contents: “BRITISH Liberties, or, the Free-born Subject’s Inheritance; containing the Laws that form the Basis of those Liberties, particularly Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and Habeas Corpus Act, with Observations thereon, also an introductory Essay on y, and a comprehensive View of the Constitution of Great Britain.”

The contents of the other two books were distinctly American. A travel narrative looked westward to the “Frontiers of Pennsylvania” and the prospects of “introducing Christianity among the Indians, to the Westward of the Alegh-geny Mountains.” It included a brief ethnography, described as “Remarks on the Languages and Customs of some particular Tribes among the Indians,” while also presenting indigenous Americans as a problem to be solved. The book featured “a brief Account of the various Attempts that have been made to civilize them.” Considered together, the tract on “BRITISH Liberties” and the travel narrative told the story of an ideal North America, at least from the perspective of colonists who desired westward expansion facilitated by compliant Indians and a Parliament that knew the boundaries of its authority on that side of the Atlantic.

Noel also marketed a third edition of a “TREATISE concerning RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS,” by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the influential revivalist minister who had played a significant role in the movement now known as the Great Awakening. Not only written by an American author, “every Part of the Workmanship” of the book “is AMERICAN.” Noel began his advertisement with a political tract and returned to politics in his efforts to sell the final book he highlighted. Most of his “great Variety of Books” had likely been imported from Britain, even those by American authors, but this one had been produced in the colonies. American compositors set the type. American binders secured the pages. Noel concluded his advertisement with another nod to the “domestic manufactures” that became so popular during the nonimportation movement that colonists joined to protest the taxes levied by the Townshend Acts. He offered a “fresh Assortment of PICTURES, framed and glazed in America.” The prints themselves almost certainly came from Britain, but Noel chose to emphasize the portion of the product made locally. This achieved symmetry in his advertisement, balancing the concern for the “BRITISH Liberties” of colonists with an opportunity to defend those liberties by purchasing a book and framed prints made, all or in part, in America. As much as was possible with his current inventory, Noel invoked a “Buy American” strategy to resonate with the politics of the day.

September 4

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

Sep 4 - 9:4:1769 New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (September 4, 1769).

“She has had the Honour of being employed by several Ladies in this City.”

In an advertisement that ran in the September 4, 1769, edition of the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy, Mary Morcomb, a dressmaker, announced that she made “all Sorts of Negligees, Brunswick Dresses, Gowns, and every other Sort of Lady’s Apparel.” She also applied her skills to covering umbrellas, a fashionable accessory for many women and some men in the 1760s and 1770s.

Morcomb deployed the standard market strategies. She made appeals to price, quality, and fashion, promising prospective customers that she made garments and covered umbrellas “in the neatest, and most fashionable Manner, at the lowest Prices.” Morcomb also realized that reputation was important in attracting clients and building her business. She informed readers that she “has had the Honour of being employed by several Ladies in this City, who have declared their Approbation of her Work.” Given that Morcomb described herself as a “MANTUA-MAKER from LONDON,” she may have arrived in New York relatively recently. The newcomer may not have had time to establish a clientele in the city but had managed to find some work from “several Ladies,” leveraging their approval into a secondhand testimonial. Satisfied customers generated more customers, but word-of-mouth referrals and cultivating a reputation took time. To speed along the process, Morcomb asked the women of New York to trust her that she already served “several Ladies in this City.” In exchange for that trust, Morcomb pledged that new customers “may depend upon having their Work done with all possible Care and Dispatch.” This may not have been enough to convince every prospective client of her skills and the quality of her garments, but it may have been sufficient for some to take a chance with Morcomb. Even if the dressmaker entice only a few more clients with her advertisement, that new business could further enhance her reputation among female consumers in New York.

July 10

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

Jul 10 - 7:10:1769 New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (July 10, 1769).

“No CURE No PAY.”

As part of his marketing efforts, Mr. Hamilton, “Surgeon Dentist and Operator for the Teeth, from LONDON,” offered prospective patients a guarantee: “No CURE No PAY.” If his tincture for toothaches did not yield the desired results by relieving the pain in just a few minutes then clients did not have to pay for Hamilton’s services. Colonial consumers were rightfully suspicious of quack doctors and remedies that seemed too good to be true, so Hamilton made a pitch intended to help prospective patients overcome their skepticism and give his tincture a chance, figuring that they did not lose anything if it did not work.

Given Hamilton’s description of his tincture and its effects, leading with the guarantee was probably a smart move. It did sound too good to be true. In addition to curing toothaches without drawing (or pulling) teeth it also “cures all disorders whatever in the mouth or gums.” For instance, after just a few applications the tincture “will fasten the teeth if ever so loose.” Hamilton also proclaimed that his tincture “will perfectly cure the scurvy in the gums” as well as prevent teeth from rotting, preserve “such as are decayed from becoming worse,” and eliminate “disagreeable smells from the breath.” But wait, there’s more! Hamilton’s amazing tincture did mote than relieve maladies of the mouth. When applied elsewhere, it had the power to “entirely remove all kinds of swellings in the cheek or pain in the ear.” It could cure violent headaches as well as “the most violent rheumatic pains in any part of the body.” Hamilton drew in patients with the promise of relieving toothaches. His guarantee covered only that service, but it opened the door for promoting his tincture for other uses. It very well could have included an ingredient that provided temporarily relief for toothaches, giving Hamilton an opportunity to make a hard sell to patients. For just “One Dollar each,” consumers could purchase Hamilton’s “valuable tincture.” If it relieved toothaches, even if only temporarily, then why not acquire a bottle to experiment with other ailments?

Hamilton went all in with this marketing strategy. In July 1769, he inserted identical advertisements trumpeting “No CURE No PAY” in all the newspapers published in New York, the New-York Chronicle, the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy, and the New-York Journal. Colonists who read more than one newspaper could hardly avoid Hamilton’s advertisements. Increased exposure to his promise of “No CURE No PAY” may have also played a role in convincing some prospective patients to give his tincture a try.

June 19

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

Jun 19 - 6:19:1769 New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (June 19, 1769).

“Elegant PICTURES, Framed and glazed in AMERICA.”

Late in the spring of 1769, bookseller Garrat Noel placed an advertisement in the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy to promote a “GREAT Variety of the most elegant PICTURES” available at his shop next door to the Merchant’s Coffeehouse. Like many other booksellers, he supplemented his revenues by peddling items other than books, magazines, and pamphlets. Booksellers sometimes included prints in their advertisements, yet Noel placed special emphasis on them when he placed a notice exclusively about them.

As part of his marketing effort, Noel tapped into discourses about politics and implicitly tied his prints to the nonimportation agreement currently in effect in response to the duties enacted by the Townshend Acts. He proclaimed that his prints were “Framed and glazed in AMERICA.” The success of nonimportation depended in part on encouraging “domestic manufactures” or local production of consumer goods. Yet Noel assured prospective customers that purchasing items produced in the colonies did not mean that they had to settle for inferior craftsmanship. He stressed that “in Neatness of Worksmanship” the frames that encased his prints were “equal [to] any imported from England.” Similarly, they had been glazed (the glass fitted into the frame) in the colonies by an artisan who demonstrated as much skill as any counterpart in England, though the glass itself may have been imported. Furthermore, his customers did not have to pay a premium when they considered politics in their decisions about which goods to purchase. Not only were the frames the same quality as those imported, Noel pledged to sell them “at a much lower Price.” The bookseller may have even hoped that the combination of price, quality, and patriotic politics would prompt consumers who had not already been in the market for prints to consider making a purchase as a means of demonstrating their support for domestic production and the nonimportation agreement.

Notably, Noel did not indicate that the prints or glass had not been imported, only that the frames had been produced and the glass fitted in the colonies. Drawing attention to the fact that they had been “FRAMED and glazed in AMERICA” provided a distraction from the origins of the prints and possibly the glass as well. Especially if the glass had been imported since the Townshend Acts went into effect, Noel attempted to tread a difficult path since glass was among the goods indirectly taxed. Still, this strategy allowed him to suggest that he did his part to support “domestic manufacturers” and provide opportunities for colonists to put their principles into practice by choosing to consume items produced, at least in part, in the colonies.

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Many thanks to Cortney Skinner for the clarification concerning glazing in the comments. I have updated this entry accordingly.

August 8

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

Aug 8 - 8:8:1768 New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (August 8, 1768).

“RUN away … a Welch Servant Man, named WILLIAM WALTERS.”

John Gifford was not happy when “a Welch Servant Man, named WILLIAM WALTERS” ran away in the summer of 1768. The aggrieved master reported that Walters, a mason, had departed with his wife, a woman described as “very remarkable in her Talk.” Gifford may have been commenting on her dialect, but given that he described both husband and wife as “much given to Drink” he may have meant that she resorted to crude speech that made her particularly easy to identify.

To reduce the chances of Walters and his unnamed wife successfully making their escape, Gifford placed notices in multiple newspapers. The New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury and the New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy both published his advertisement on Monday, August 8. The same advertisement first appeared the previous Thursday in the August 4 edition of the New-York Journal (number 1335). The notation “35 38” intended for the compositor indicated that Gifford made arrangements for his advertisement to run for four consecutive weeks. He intended to place it before as many eyes as possible in hopes of capturing the runaway mason.

To that end, Gifford immediately inserted a similar advertisement in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, printed in Philadelphia. Like the New York publications, it was distributed to subscribers and other readers far beyond the city. Gifford suspected that the couple might be more readily identified in New York and would attempt to make their way to another busy port before continuing their flight via ship to somewhere even more distant. Gifford’s advertisement ran in the Pennsylvania Chronicle the same day it first appeared in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury and the New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy, simultaneously informing widely dispersed readerships to be on the lookout for a Welch mason and his wife. Gifford must have quickly dispatched copy for the advertisement to William Goddard’s printing office on Market Street in Philadelphia in order for his notice to appear in print so quickly. He revised it only slightly, acknowledging local conditions by offering “Forty Shillings Reward” rather than “TWO POUNDS REWARD.” He also added a nota bene that demanded “All masters of vessels and others are hereby forbid to carry them off,” a standard warning in advertisements for runaway servants and slaves.

When it came to enlisting the aid of the public prints in capturing a runaway servant, Gifford spared little expense. In addition to the reward and “all reasonable Charges” he offered to “Whoever secures [Walters], so that his master may have him again,” he also invested in advertisements in four newspapers published in two cities. The New-York Journal was the only one that listed its advertising rates: “Five shillings, four Weeks.” Others most likely charged similar fees, indicating that Gifford spent at least twenty shilling (or one pound) on advertising intended to increase surveillance and lead to the capture and return of his runaway servant. Creating imagined communities via simultaneous readership was not just a project undertaken by printers who selected content from among possible news items, often reprinting from one newspaper to another. Advertisers made their own contributions to that project when they paid to have notices printed in multiple newspapers in multiple locations.