December 25

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (December 25, 1772).

“Those who neglect, & are Indebted, must expect … the Accounts will be lodged with such Gentlemen as will create Trouble.”

As 1772 drew to a close, Daniel Fowle and Robert L. Fowle, printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette, announced their intention to dissolve their partnership.  Robert planned to leave the colony “in a short Time.”  Daniel founded the New-Hampshire Gazette in October 1756.  Nearly eight years later, according to Clarence S. Brigham, “Daniel admitted his nephew … to a share in the management” in September 1764.[1]  The Fowles worked together for more than eight years, distributing their last issue as partners in April 1773.  Daniel then became sole proprietor of the newspaper once again.

As Robert prepared to set out on his own, he inserted a notice in the December 25 edition, the final issue of the year, to alert readers that he “earnestly desires all Persons who have Accounts open, in which he has any Connections,” including accounts with the New-Hampshire Gazette, “to settle the same, as soon as possible.”  As the Fowles often did when they placed notices calling on subscribers and others to pay their bills, Robert threatened legal action against those who ignored this notice.  “Those who neglect, & are Indebted,” he warned, “must expect, that without respect to Persons, the Accounts will be lodged with such Gentlemen as will create Trouble and needless Charges.”  In other words, it did not matter if those who owed the Fowles happened to be the most influential colonial officials and the most affluent merchants; Robert intended to hold them accountable no matter their status.  To that end, he would hire attorneys, those “Gentlemen as will create Trouble and needless Charges.”  He hoped to avoid that “very disagreeable” action if “all Persons who have Accounts open” settled them, but he did not consider it “ungenerous” to sue them “after the repeated Solicitations for a Settlement” published in the newspaper and likely communicated to them in other ways.

As many colonial printers did, the Fowles gave this notice a privileged place in their newspaper.  It appeared at the top of the first column on the first page, immediately below the masthead.  That made it difficult for readers, including those indebted to the Fowles, to overlook the notice.  Perhaps as a means of reminding some of those readers of his other contributions to the community and their mutual obligations to each other, another notice signed by Robert L. Fowle appeared immediately below the one calling on colonizers to settle accounts.  In his capacity as “Pro. Sec.” of the New Hampshire lodge of the “Brethren of the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted MASONS,” Robert extended an invitation on behalf of the master of that lodge to gather “to celebrate the Festival of St. JOHN the Evangelist” on December 28.  Robert may have intended for that notice to alleviate some of the sting of the blunt language in the other notice, having the one follow after the other.


[1] Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (Worcester, Massachusetts:  American Antiquarian Society, 1947), 471.

December 10

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (December 10, 1770).

“The Co partnership of JOSEPH and DANIEL WALDO, is mutually dissolv’d.”

When their partnership came to an end in the fall of 1770, Joseph Waldo and Daniel Waldo placed newspaper advertisements “to give Notice to all Persons who have any Demands on said Company, to apply to DANIEL WALDO for Payment.”  They also called on “those who are indebted to said Company” to settle accounts “as soon as possible.”  That portion of the advertisement was fairly standard, replicating many others that appeared in newspapers throughout the colonies.

The nota bene at the end of the advertisement, however, incorporated a marketing strategy not nearly as common in these routine notices.  In this special note, Daniel proclaimed that he “continues the Business as usual.”  He pledged that the “Customers of the late Company, and all others, who may Favour him with their Custom may depend on being used in the best Manner.”  In the course of their partnership, the Waldos had established a clientele and a reputation among consumers in Boston and beyond.  Although the partnership had been “mutually dissolv’d,” Daniel sought to maintain both the clientele and the reputation, inviting existing customers to continue to deal with him and alerting others that the business continued to operate after Joseph’s departure.

That may explain why the advertisement did not include a certain element common to many such notices about partnerships dissolving.  The Waldos did not threaten legal action against those who owed debts, unlike others that made it clear that those who did not settle accounts would find themselves in court.  Doing so would have impaired Daniel’s attempts to continue friendly relationships with a customer base that he hoped to maintain.  After all, he promised continuing and prospective customers that they “may depend on being used in the best Manner.”  Daniel focused on customer service as a means of cultivating his business as it entered a new stage without Joseph as a partner.

May 16

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

May 16 - 5:16:1770 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

“WILLIAMS and MACKAY’s Copartnership will expire in June next.”

It would have been nearly impossible for readers of the Georgia Gazette not to know that “WILLIAMS AND MACKAY’s Copartnership will expire” in June 1770.  The partners ran an advertisement to that effect in every issue for several months.  They commenced their efforts to notify “all indebted to that concern” to settle accounts in the January 3 edition of the Georgia Gazette.  That advertisement, the first item on the first page, bore a dateline at its conclusion: “Augusta, 1st January, 1770.”  The following week they published a slightly revised version, adding “Pack Horses, Indian Debts” to the list of items they continued to sell at “Their Trading House in Augusta.”  Doing so required resetting the type for the second half of the advertisement, but the compositor left the first half intact.

That advertisement ran for thirteen weeks before Williams and Mackay updated it again.  (I am assuming that it appeared in the March 14 edition.  The fourth page, usually reserved for advertisements in the Georgia Gazette, is missing from the digitized copy available via America’s Historical Newspapers).  Throughout that time, that advertisement advised that they sought to sell the trading house itself, “which may be entered upon the first of April next.”  Apparently, they did not find any purchasers by that time.  On April 11, they further revised the copy to state that the trading house “may be entered upon immediately.”  This required resetting type in the second half of the advertisement once again.  At that time, the dateline also disappeared from the advertisement.

For at least twenty consecutive weeks one iteration or another of Williams and Mackay’s advertisement ran in the Georgia Gazette.  It may have continued past the May 16 edition, but those issues have not survived.  America’s Historical Newspapers includes the first two pages of the May 23 edition, but by that time this advertisement had migrated to the last two.  That’s the end of both known copies of the Georgia Gazette and digitized editions that make them more accessible.  Inserting their advertisement that many times would have been a significant investment for Williams and Mackay.  For James Johnston, the printer, this advertising campaign yielded revenues that supported the dissemination of the news that appeared elsewhere in the Georgia Gazette.  Regular readers likely became accustomed to seeing the advertisement over the course of nearly half a year.  By inserting it so often, Williams and Mackay increased the chances that even those who read the Georgia Gazette only sporadically would see their notice.

January 9

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

Jan 9 1770 - 1:9:1770 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 9, 1770).

“BRIAN CAPE … continues the business as usual.”

The end of the decade saw an end to the partnership between shopkeepers Edward Griffith and Brian Cape. Early in 1770, the shopkeepers turned to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to announce that their “co-partnership” had “expired with the last year.” Not only were they going their separate ways, Griffith was retiring or “declining trade.” Their advertisement thanked patrons who had “favoured them with their custom” and called on anyone indebted to the partnership to settle accounts “as soon as convenient.” Since Cape continued in business, the partnership also took the opportunity to encourage existing customers “to transfer” their patronage to him.

Cape placed a separate but related advertisement that reiterated the notice signed by both partners. The compositor of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal conveniently placed them together and even formatted them to look like one continuous advertisement. Perhaps Cape had submitted copy for both advertisements to the printing office simultaneously. Despite the repetition, Cape’s request for “friends of his late co-partnership” to “favour him their custom” benefitted from appearing immediately after the notice signed by both Griffith and Cape that made the same plea. Griffith endorsed his former partner, making clear that even as they concluded their partnership that he recommended Cape to customers who could expect the same level of service from Cape alone.

Customers could also expect the same quality and variety of goods in Cape’s shop that the partners had formerly provided. Cape had purchased “their STOCK OF GOODS.” He offered an overview of this “neat Assortment,” listing a variety of merchandise from “FASHIONABLE broad cloths, with trimmings” to “sets of table and tea china” to “Ben Kenton’s best porter in bottles and barrels” to “a few of the most useful family and plantation medicines.” For those who previously shopped at Griffith and Cape’s “store on the Bay,” he demonstrated that they could continue to acquire the same goods from him “on as good terms as any in town.” At the same time, he published a rich catalog of goods for prospective customers who had not made purchases from Griffith and Cape. Even as he sought to maintain his existing customer base, Cape invited new customers to browse his wares and buy from him rather than any of his competitors in the bustling port of Charleston.

December 20

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 20, 1768).

“He intends to carry on Business in his own Name alone.”

During the period that their partnership was in effect, Godfrey and Gadsden turned to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to advertise the assorted goods they sold. When their partnership came to an end, they inserted a different notice in the pages of that newspaper. They first thanked their “Friends and Customers” for their patronage, but then called on “those indebted to them” to settle accounts. Like many other merchants and shopkeepers, they threatened “disagreeable Consequences” for those who did not heed that request, though they did not linger on the possibility of legal action. Instead, they emphasized the many means of making payment, including accepting “Rice, Deer-Skins, and Indico … at the Market Price.”

Yet the advertisement did not just announce the expiration of Godfrey and Gadsden’s partnership. It also launched Thomas Gadsden’s new endeavor pursuing the business on his own in the new year. He sought to retain the customers that the partnership had cultivated, informing them that “he intends to carry on Business in his own Name alone … and will therefore be much obliged to them for a Continuance of their Favours.” To that end, he made several appeals. First, he emphasized consumer choice, pledging “to keep a good Assortment of such Goods as are usually imported into this Province.” He listed a few items currently available, such as “printed Linens and Cottons” and “a great variety of Linen Drapery Goods.” Not only did he offer prospective customers choices, he also sold his wares “at the most reasonable Rates.” Following the practice established with his former partner, Gadsden continued to accept rice, indigo, and deerskins at market price as payment.

Thomas Gadsden hoped to achieve a seamless transition from a partnership to a solo enterprise. That included maintaining his current customer base, yet also expanding on it if possible. His advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal informed readers of his change in circumstances, while simultaneously offering assurances that he was prepared to conduct business on his own.

September 27

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

Sep 27 - 9:27:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 27, 1768).

“ONE might be apt to think by Mr. Champneys’s advertisement that GEORGE LIVINGSTON is actually dead.”

George Livingston demonstrated his appreciation for drama in an advertisement offering his services as a broker in the September 27, 1768, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. “ONE might be apt to think by Mr. Champneys’s advertisement,” the broker acerbically observed, “that GEORGE LIVINGSTON is actually dead: Blessed be GOD the case is not so: He is still in the land of the living, and steps forth to inform his friends and the public, that he is in some measure able to do BUSINESS.” After such a theatrical introduction, Livingston returned to the familiar refrains that appeared in advertisements placed by others in his line of work. Familiar as Livingston’s appeals to his “FIDELITY and PUNCTUALITY” may have been, they likely garnered more notice from prospective clients as a result of Livingston’s unusual method of introducing himself.

Livingston inserted his advertisement in response to one from his former business partner that appeared the previous week as well as again in the same issue as the rebuttal. In that notice, Champneys announced that he “FOLLOWS the FACTORAGE BUSINESS by himself.” He offered his services to friends and former customers, promising that “they may depend on the same Diligence and constant Attendance as formerly.” Although some colonists placed advertisements when they dissolved business partnerships, Champneys did not mention Livingston at all. Neither advertisement reveals the conditions of their parting. Livingston’s notice could suggest that he took some umbrage at Champneys seemingly erasing their former association, but he also noted that he “proposes doing his business on Mr. Champneys’s, formerly Mr. Simmons’s, wharf.” They were not on such poor terms that Livingston refused to become a tenant of Champneys. Perhaps the two had parted amicably. Perhaps Champneys even laughed at the joke made possible by his own advertisement, even as the two brokers competed for the same clients. Formerly partners, they were now rivals in business. Invoking humor may have been a means for Livingston to attract his share of clients without denigrating his former partner’s own “FIDELITY and PUNCTUALITY.” Just because they were business rivals did not mean that Champneys and Livingston could not also be friendly rivals.