August 30

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 30, 1773).

“THE Butchers who have no stalls in the market of this city … will sell their meat a Half-penny cheaper than those that have.”

By the end of August 1773, it was a notice familiar to readers of the Pennsylvania Chronicle.  Starting on August 9, the “Butchers who have no stalls in the market of this city” placed an advertisement to inform prospective customers of a considerable bargain available “at their stands in the street above the meal-market.”  Collectively, those butchers pledged that they “will sell their meat a Half-penny cheaper” than the butchers fortunate enough to have stalls in the city market.  They underscored that they did business on the site “where the new market was intended to have been built.”  Undercutting the competition was not merely a marketing strategy.  It was a political protest.

Candice L. Harrison provides an overview of the failed attempt to construct a new market in Philadelphia in the early 1770s.  “As both the rural and urban population thickened,” she explains, “Philadelphia’s public markets drew in increasing numbers of vendors and consumers.  With only a small space of about twenty stalls reserved for the use of ‘country people’ – the Jersey Market – and the rest of the shambles rented to town butchers, residents from the surrounding counties petitioned the colonial legislature for the erection of new market stalls in October 1772.”  Soon after, the colony’s General Assembly and the city’s Common Council collaborated on choosing a site to build new market stalls.  They planned to start the project in January 1773.

Not everyone, however, was happy about this development.  Colonizers who owned property near the proposed site objected.  Many expressed concerned that the location of the new market would reduce their property value as well as alter the character of the wide streets in the neighborhood.  According to Harrison, Owen Jones, the provincial treasurer, led the opposition, assisted by William Goddard, “the printer of the Pennsylvania Chronicle [who] lent his editorial and printing skills to muster broader public support” against the market.  Harrison, Goddard, and their allies wrote newspaper editorials and distributed handbills and pamphlets.  While most of the opposition remained peaceful and worked through legal channels, Goddard “issued a call for physical action in a handbill” in June 1773.  Building commenced, met with vandalism and theft by some of the opponents.  The project came to an end on June 29.  The opposition prevailed after “destroying the erection of the market and privileging their own private interests over the ‘public good.’”  In the process, they asserted that “their rights of property ownerships stretched out into the public streets” and “articulated a definition of public space that was neither common nor fully public.”

Given the situation, it was no accident that the butchers without stalls in the city market set up shop “where the new market was intended to have been built” as a rejoinder to the coalition of middling artisans and merchants who had successfully obstructed the project.  They likely intended that discounted prices would not only mean more customers and revenue for themselves but also greater annoyance for local residents.  In addition, it hardly seems a coincidence that they chose to advertise in Goddard’s newspaper.  Although they likely did not relish paying their adversary to publish the advertisements, they almost certainly took some satisfaction in using the printer’s own newspaper against him.  While Goddard could have refused to run the advertisement, he might not have noticed it if someone else who worked in the printing office accepted it and handled the details, especially considering that Goddard was in the process of opening a printing office in Baltimore and launching the Maryland Journal.  That might have been just the distraction the butchers needed to stick it to the printer by advertising their protest in the Pennsylvania Chronicle.


For more on this incident, see Candice L. Harrison, “A Jack of All Spaces: The Public Market in Revolutionary Philadelphia,” paper presented to a joint seminar of the Program for Early American Economy and Society and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, February 16, 2006.

April 14

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (April 12, 1773).

“A VERY great Variety of plain and changeable mantuas, both ½ ell and ¾ ell wide.”

Daniel Benezet’s extensive advertisement from the March 15, 1773, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle continued to run in subsequent issues of that newspaper, though the compositor made modifications to the format.  The advertisement featured the same copy, but the organization better fit the page.  The original version filled two columns and overflowed into a third, in part because it appeared on the first page and the masthead occupied a significant amount of space at the top of the page.  Upon moving the advertisement to other pages, the compositor gained space to confine it to two columns.  In another modification, the headline at the top of the advertisement and the nota bene that announced “BENEZET is leaving off Business” and, as a result, “determined to sell the above Goods on very low Terms” at the bottom both ran across multiple columns.  The new format looked like a handbill that could have been printed separately as well as an advertisement integrated into the pages of the Pennsylvania Chronicle.

Pennsylvania Gazette (April 14, 1773).

When it came to the visual appeal of the advertisement, the compositor made all the difference.  Benezet placed a notice with the same copy in the April 14 edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette, but it did not look like the same advertisement.  The compositor for the Pennsylvania Chronicle deployed generous amounts of white space to make Benezet’s advertisement easier for readers to navigate.  He did so by dividing each column into two columns and listing only one item or category of items on each line.  In contrast, the compositor for the Pennsylvania Gazette resorted to a much more crowded format, listing hundreds of items in a single paragraph that extended more than a column.  Readers almost certainly found it more difficult to navigate the dense text in the version of the advertisement that ran in the Pennsylvania Gazette, a feature that likely made it more difficult to engage prospective customers.

The variations in the format of Benezet’s advertisement demonstrate the division of labor that usually defined advertising in early American newspapers.  Advertisers composed and submitted copy, but compositors made decisions about format and other aspects of graphic design.  On occasion, consistency in design across advertisements placed in multiple newspapers suggests that advertisers made specific requests or even consulted directly with compositors.  That did not happen when Benezet submitted the advertising copy to the Pennsylvania Gazette.  He may have even provided the notice from the Pennsylvania Chronicle as reference, leaving it to the compositor to make final decisions about format while incorporating the copy in its entirety.

March 15

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (March 15, 1773).

“A great variety of calicoes, whole and half chintzes, and printed cottons.”

It was not a full-page advertisement, but it came close.  Daniel Benezet’s advertisement in the March 15, 1773, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle filled the first column on the front page, extended throughout the second column, and overflowed into the final column.  Eight much shorter advertisements filled the remainder of the page.  As was often the case in eighteenth-century newspapers, news articles, letters, and editorials began on the second page.

Benezet announced that he recently imported a variety of goods from London, Bristol, and Holland.  To demonstrate the choices that he made available to consumers, he published an extensive catalog of his merchandise.  Benezet’s inventory included “Blue, green, scarlet, claret, brown, cinnamon, drab, copper and mixt coloured, middling and low priced broadcloths,” a “large assortment of men’s women’s and children’s Bath, white metal, steel, block tin, and pinchbeck shoe buckles,” “Best English hammered brass kettles,” and “Newest fashion’d snuff-boxes.”  He concluded with “&c. &c. &c.”  Repeating an abbreviation for et cetera suggested even more wonders available at his store on Arch Street in Philadelphia, too many to appear in the already lengthy newspaper advertisement.  In the first advertisement that followed Benezet’s notice, Peter Wikoff and Isaac Wikoff stated that they “joined both their stocks in trade together … and now have a very large and compleat assortment of dry goods on hand.”  The Wikoffs invited prospective customers to imagine their wares; in contrast, Benezet encouraged consumers to browse through his inventory in the pages of the public prints.  He likely believed that if readers spotted items they wanted or needed in his catalog of goods that they would be more likely to shop at his store.

To aid prospective customers in navigating the advertisement and discovering items that interested them, the compositor divided each column into two columns, ran a dividing line down the center, and listed only one item or category of items on each line.  In most instances, those descriptions required more than one line, with second and subsequent lines indented.  That created additional white space that made Benezet’s advertisement easier to read than notices that clustered merchandise together in paragraphs of dense text.  Benezet and the compositor leveraged graphic design in their efforts to engage readers of the Pennsylvania Chronicle and entice them to become customers.  The compositor apparently did not consider it sufficient to publish a lengthy advertisement, but instead believed that good design made it more effective.

Pennsylvania Chronicle (March 15, 1773).

February 22

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

Newport Mercury (February 22, 1773).

“Such original pieces and extracts as will afford the most pleasing and useful amusement.”

James Rivington, a prominent printer and bookseller in New York, determined that the city needed another newspaper to supplement the three already published there in 1773.  He envisioned, however, a publication that would circulate far beyond the city and even beyond the colony.  When the first issue appeared on April 22, the masthead bore a lengthy title, Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer; or the Connecticut, New-Jersey, Hudson’s River, and Quebec Weekly Advertiser.  All colonial newspapers were regional rather than local, but Rivington sought to serve several regions simultaneously.

Although he frequently placed advertisements for books, stationery, and other merchandise in newspapers printed in New York, Rivington did not place his first advertisements for his own newspaper in the city.  Instead, his first newspaper notices appeared in the Newport Mercury and the Pennsylvania Chronicle on February 22, 1773.  Over the next several weeks, his advertising campaign expanded to several other newspapers.

Pennsylvania Chronicle (February 22, 1773).

Rivington placed a fairly humble notice in the Newport Mercury, announcing his plan to publish “a WEEKLY GAZETTE, or the CITY and COUNTRY ADVERTISER” that would “contain the best and freshest advices, foreign and domestic, and such original pieces as will afford the most pleasing and useful amusement.”  He listed the prices, promised that “All favours from the inhabitants of Rhode-Island colony, will be gratefully acknowledged,” and identified local agents who collected subscriptions, including the printer of the Newport Mercury.

In comparison, his advertisement in the Pennsylvania Chronicle had a much grander tone.  Rivington proclaimed that he would publish a newspaper “differing materially in its Plan from most now extant” and asserted that he received “Encouragement from the first Personages in this Country” to pursue the endeavor.  Now he needed “public Patronage” or subscribers.  Over the course of six lines, the full title of the newspaper appeared as a headline, followed by the “Plan” that described the purpose and contents of the newspaper.  He pledged to invest “All his humble Labours” and select materials according to “the most perfect Integrity and Candour.”  He concluded by noting that he planned to distribute the first issue “when the Season will permit the several Post-Riders to perform their Stages regularly.”  After all, it did not good for residents of Philadelphia and other towns to subscribe to this newspaper if they would not receive it in a timely fashion.

Compared to the description of “such original pieces and extracts as will afford the most pleasing and useful amusement” that Rivington mentioned in his advertisement in the Newport Mercury, the “Plan” in his notice in the Pennsylvania Chronicle was much more extensive.  His newspaper would include some of the usual content, such as “the most important Events, Foreign and Domestic” and “the Mercantile Interest in Arrivals, Departures and Prices Current, at Home and Abroad.”  In addition, Rivington trumpeted that the “State of Learning shall be constantly reported.”  It seemed as though he intended to publish content that often appeared in magazines imported from London, such as the “best Modern Essays,” “New Inventions in Arts and Sciences, Mechanics and Manufactures, Agriculture and Natural History,” and a “Review of Mew Books … with Extracts from every deserving Performance.”  Rivington took his responsibilities as editor seriously, refusing to publish any “crafty Attempt with cozening Title, from the Garrets of GRUBB-STREET.”  His readers could depend on receiving only content “that may contribute to the Improvement, Information and Entertainment of the Public.”

Although Rivington went into greater detail when addressing readers of the Pennsylvania Chronicle compared to readers of the Newport Mercury, in each instance he sought to entice prospective subscribers with more than just the news, those “freshest advices, foreign and domestic.”  He promised additional content that would amuse as well as inform.  Several newspapers included a poetry corner on the final page, printing a new poem each week.  Rivington proposed giving his subscribers an even greater amount of literary content, delivering items that tended to appear in magazines.  He hoped that would help to distinguish his newspaper from other published in New York and other towns in the colonies.

January 16

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (January 16, 1773).

“By limiting the number of his pupils … he has a singular advantage.”

Samuel Blair ran a boarding school for boys in Philadelphia in the early 1770s.  In an advertisement in the January 16, 1773, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, the schoolmaster announced that he had openings for two pupils and promoted the benefits of learning in such an exclusive setting.  He explained that for the “special benefit” of his students, he limited enrollment to only twelve boys.  He advertised “whenever a vacancy occurs,” alerting parents who “choose … to have [their sons] instructed in a private family rather than a public school.”

Blair briefly outlined his curriculum, but devoted most of his advertisement to the virtues of a residential setting for a small number of students.  The course of study included “the Latin and Greek Languages, Geography, Arithmetic, and all the most useful practical branches of the Mathematics” as well as “the arts of reading, writing, spelling, and speaking English with elegance and propriety.”  His school, he suggested, produced genteel young men.

Their comportment, not just the skills they acquired and the subjects they mastered, made them genteel.  Blair asserted that “limiting the number of his pupils” allowed him to “devot[e] himself wholly to the care of their education,” including “constant intercourse and conversations with them as members of his family.”  That represented a “singular advantage” for his students compared to the attention they received from other schoolmasters.  In addition to “bringing [his pupils] on in these studies and exercises with expedition and accuracy … in such a way as shall render them most easy and agreeable to their young and impatient minds,” Blair declared that he instituted a gentle system of discipline that formed young men of character.  In the course of spending time with his students in and beyond the classroom, he took responsibility “for correcting and forming their tempers, for inspecting and regulating their general deportment, and for governing them by the milder and more successful means of argument and persuasion.”  The schoolmaster did not deploy harsh methods of correction.  Instead, he treated his students as members of an extended family.

Blair did not rely on exclusivity alone to generate interest in his boarding school.  To attract interest from the parents of prospective pupils, he described the benefits of that exclusivity.  His students not only received an education but also an upbringing that transformed them into genteel young men.  When they entrusted their sons to his care, parents could depend on them learning a variety of subjects, both practical and refined, under the watchful eye of a schoolmaster who kept order and instilled good manners without resorting to draconian means.  Blair believed that his program presented a “singular advantage” for his students … and aimed to convince parents of prospective pupils that was indeed the case.

January 9

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (January 9, 1773).

“A NEAT Assortment of Ironmongery, too tedious to mention.”

In January 1773, Hugh Roberts and George Roberts continued taking to the pages of the Pennsylvania Chronicle to hawk their wares.  They proclaimed that they carried “IRONMONGERY AND BRASS WARES, In their most extensive BRANCHES.”  In other words, they stocked some of everything!  They also declared that they had a “large Assortment of COPPER WARE, INDIA-METAL WARE, JAPAN’D WARE, and CUTLERY.”  The Robertses suggested that the selection would satisfy any of their customers.

They asked readers to take their word for it and, better yet, visit their “WARE-HOUSE” at the corner of Market Street and Grindstone Alley in Philadelphia to see for themselves.  They could have published an extensive catalog of their merchandise to demonstrate the range of choices available to consumers.  Many merchants and shopkeepers adopted that marketing strategy in the second half of the eighteenth century.  Instead, the Robertses inserted a note intended to tantalize prospective customers.  “The Ironmongery, Brass and the other Wares, at the said Ware-house,” they asserted, “consist of so great a variety of sizes, patterns and workmanship, that, to particularize the articles in an advertisement, would be too extensive for publication in a news-paper.”  In addition to being “too extensive,” such an advertisement may have been more expensive than the Robertses wished to pay.

Adam Zantzinger, who also sold a “NEAT Assortment of IRONMONGERY,” offered a sharper critique of what he considered excessive detail in newspaper advertisements.  In his own advertisement, Zantzinger insisted his selection was “too tedious to mention.”  Presumably prospective customers would not find browsing his store at the corner of Market and Fourth Streets “too tedious,” especially since they could acquire goods there “on the lowest and most reasonable terms.”  In contrast, Jonathan Zane and Sons ran an advertisement that filled an entire column and overflowed into another as they listed hundreds of items from among their “large assortment of IRONMONGERY, CUTLERY, BRASS WARE, SADLERY, DYE STUFFS, PAINTERS COLOURS,” and other items.  Perhaps Zantzinger directed his comments at those competitors in addition to making a general statement about advertising practices then in style.

In an era when many merchants and shopkeepers sought to demonstrate the array of choices that they provided for consumers by imbedding lengthy lists of merchandise in their newspaper advertisements, some advertisers rejected such methods in favor of making simple promises that they carried items prospective customers wanted or needed.  Their strategy may have been motivated in part by the cost of advertising, but that did not prevent them from making appeals that they believed would resonate with consumers, including highlighting their large selection and low prices.

January 3

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (January 3, 1772).

“Blanks and Hand-Bills, in particular, are done on the shortest Notice, in a neat and correct Manner.”

Some colonial printers used the colophon at the bottom of the final page of their newspapers merely to give publication information.  Such was the case in several newspapers during the first week of 1773.  The colophon for the New-Hampshire Gazette succinctly stated, “PORTSMOUTH, Printed by Daniel and Robert Fowle.”  Similarly, the colophon for the Boston-Gazette simply read, “Boston: Printed by EDES & GILL, in Queen-Street, 1773.”  Beyond New England, the colophon for the Pennsylvania Gazette gave similar information: “PHILADELPHIA: Printed by HALL and SELLERS, at the NEW PRINTING-OFFICE, near the Market.”

In contrast, many printers treated their colophons as perpetual advertisements for the goods and services they provided at their printing offices.  In many instances, those colophons included the most readily accessible information about subscription prices, advertising fees, or both.  Consider the colophon for the Pennsylvania Chronicle.  It opened with the same information that appeared in concise versions in other newspapers: “PHILADELPHIA: Printed by WILLIAM GODDARD, at the NEW PRINTING-OFFICE in Front-Street, near Market-Street, on the Bank Side, and almost opposite to the London Coffee-House.”  In a bustling city where printers published four other newspapers, Goddard wanted to make sure that subscribers, advertisers, and other customers could find his printing office.

From there, the printer noted that “Subscriptions, (at TEN SHILLINGS per Annum) Advertisements, Articles and Letters of Intelligence are gratefully received for this paper.”  In addition to generating revenue through subscriptions and advertising, Goddard encouraged an eighteenth-century version of crowdsourcing for content that he might choose to include in his publication.  In addition to publishing the Pennsylvania Chronicle, Goddard also accepted orders for job printing.  In the final lines of the colophon, he asserted that “all Manner of Printing Work is performed with Care, Fidelity and Expedition,” adding that “Blanks [or printed forms] and Hand-Bills, in particular, are done on the shortest Notice, in a neat and correct Manner.”  That Goddard and other printers so often mentioned handbills in their colophons suggests that many more of those ephemeral advertisements came off of colonial presses than the relatively few that survived might suggest.

Eighteenth-century printers introduced a variety of variations into their colophons.  Some included only brief publication information, while others consistently used their colophons as advertisements to promote their businesses.  Those who took that approach were the most consistent advertisers of the period, disseminating at least one advertisement in each issue they printed.  Even the most prolific advertisers among the merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans who placed paid notices did not advertise at that rate.

January 2

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (January 2, 1772).


Pelatiah Webster advertised a variety of goods available at his store on Water Street in Philadelphia at the end of 1772 and the beginning of 1773.  Although he mentioned some imported items, he emphasized that he carried several items made in the colonies.  He deployed a version of “Made in America” or “Buy American” even before the American Revolution.  Purveyors of goods and services did so at various times during the imperial crisis that eventually resulted in thirteen colonies declaring independence from Britain, most frequently during periods when colonizers adopted nonimportation agreements as political leverage.  That did not mean, however, that advertisers did not encourage consumers to purchase “domestic manufactures” at times of relative calm.

Webster apparently believed that highlighting the American origins of many of his wares would aid in attracting customers.  He may have also hoped that this strategy would remind consumers that they could make choices in the marketplace that had political ramifications.  He opened his advertisement with a “NEAT assortment of BOSTON SHOES,” trumpeting their “excellent quality” and the “variety of colours.”  Merchants and shopkeepers throughout the colonies often listed dozens of different kinds of imported textiles, hoping to match the tastes and budgets of prospective customers.  Webster, on the other hand, stocked “a variety of coarse woollens, cottons, check flannels, &c. AMERICAN MANUFACTURE, very serviceable, at 2s. and 2s6 per yard.”  Those textiles were not as fancy as imported alternatives, but Webster considered them both practical and, at two shillings or two shillings and six pence per yard, quire reasonable.  For many colonizers, using such homespun fabrics became a badge of honor, a visible testimonial of their politics or commitment to supporting the local economy or both.

In the January 2, 1773, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, Webster’s advertisement ran in the first column on the final page, below George Weed’s advertisement for medicines he compounded at shop on Market Street, alternatives to patent medicines imported from London.  The middle column consisted entirely of an advertisement in which Jonathan Zane and Sons cataloged a “large assortment of IRONMONGERY, CUTLERY, BRASS WARE, SADLERY, DYE STUFFS, PAINTERS COLOURS” and more that they acquired “at the manufactories of Great-Britain and imported in the last vessels from London and Bristol.”  In the final column, John Marie’s advertisement ran once again, offering the services of a “TAYLOR, from PARIS” who had previously clothed “some of the most respectable Gentlemen in London.”  That constellation of advertisements and marketing strategies on a single page testified to some of the tension inherent in consumer culture during the era of the American Revolution.  Consumers navigated competing messages about the meanings of goods and services and how they should participate in the marketplace.

December 26

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (December 26, 1772).

Doctor GEORGE WEED … was a regular bred Physician, in New-England.”

George Weed, an apothecary, served patients in Philadelphia for decades in the middle of the eighteenth century.  In his advertisements, he styled himself as “Doctor GEORGE WEED.”  On occasion, he provided credentials to justify using that title.

For instance, in an advertisement hawking a variety of medicines in the December 26, 1772, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, Weed provided an overview of his training before describing his “SYRUP of BALSAM” for coughs and colds, his “ROYAL BALSAM” for wounds, bruises, and sores, his “BITTER TINCTURE” for dizziness and upset stomach, and other medicines that he compounded at his apothecary shop.  Weed asserted that he “was a regular bred Physician, in New-England, and served his time with Ephraim Warner, a licenced Doctor.”  In other words, he received training from “one of the greatest and most successful Practitioners of Physic, in New England, in his day.”  Rather than ask the public to take his word for it, Weed concluded his advertisement with an affirmation from a minister.  Thomas Lewis declared, “That Doctor GEORGE WEED, living in Newtown Township, was under the Instructions and Directions of a judicious Practitioner of Physic, in New-England, for some Years, is certified by me.”  Careful readers may have noted that the affirmation was nearly two decades old, dated October 6, 1753.  Weed apparently believed that it served his purpose in helping to convince prospective patients to purchase his medicines.

To strengthen his pitch, Weed noted that he had “above 34 years successful practice,” including serving as “Apothecary to the Pennsylvania Hospital.”  He no longer held that position, instead operating his own shop on Market Street.  Through his long experience, he proclaimed, Weed “brought to perfection, some medicines, which have proved extraordinary in curing many diseases.”  Although the apothecary mentioned that he carried a “general assortment of Medicines,” he emphasized those that he made himself.  Other apothecaries, retailers, and even printers imported, advertised, and sold a variety of patent medicines produced in England.  Weed suggested to consumers in Philadelphia that the combination of his training and long experience serving patients in the colonies resulted in creating better products to cure common maladies.  They did not need remedies produced elsewhere when they could consult directly with a skilled apothecary who compounded medicines to order.

December 12

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (December 12, 1772).

“He has had the Pleasure of pleasing some of the most respectable Gentlemen in London.”

John Marie, a tailor, wanted the better sort to know that he was well qualified to serve them at the shop he ran out of his house in Gray’s Alley in Philadelphia.  In an advertisement in the December 12, 1772, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, he introduced himself as a “TAYLOR, from PARIS.”  He intended that his connection to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe, a city where the fashionable often set tastes adopted in London, the most cosmopolitan city in the British Empire, would recommend him to genteel consumers in the largest and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the colonies.  He made clear that he sought a particular kind of client by addressing “the Gentry and Public.”  Consumers and tailor would mutually benefit from their association as Marie enhanced the appearances of his clients and those clients gained the cachet of being dressed by a French tailor.

To demonstrate that he was prepared to work with the local gentry, Marie heralded his previous experience.  The tailor proclaimed that he “has had the Pleasure of pleasing some of the most respectable Gentlemen in London,” though he was too discreet to mention names.  That he served “respectable Gentlemen” suggested that he kept them outfitted according to the latest styles but did not resort to anything too frivolous or outrageous.  Prospective clients could depend on him dressing them well without transforming them into the macaronis who were the target of so much derision in both London and Philadelphia in the 1770s.  In “Fashion and the Culture Wars of Revolutionary Philadelphia,” Kate Haulman explains that the term macaroni “applied to elaborately powdered, ruffled, and corseted men of fashion” whose “suits were opulent and closely cut, with incredibly slim silhouettes.”[1]  A series of prints published in London depicted all sorts of men, “from farmers to barristers,” as macaronis.  Thus, Haulman argues, “macaroni could apply to any man who followed fashion to ape high status.”[2]  Marie suggested that he did not seek to serve such pretenders.  The gentry in Philadelphia could depend on him to dress them as “respectable Gentlemen,” just as he had done for his clients in London.

Print depicting a macaroni and his perplexed father. “What is this my Son Tom” (London: R. Sayer and J. Bennett, 1774). Courtesy Library of Congress.

[1] Kate Haulman, “Fashion and the Culture Wars of Revolutionary Philadelphia,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 62, no. 4 (October 2005): 635

[2] Haulman, “Fashion and the Culture Wars,” 636.