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.