What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Has removed his PRINTING-OFFICE from Philadelphia to Burlington.”
In the summer of 1770, printer Isaac Collins closed his printing office in Philadelphia in favor of relocating to Burlington, New Jersey. He announced his new venture in an advertisement in the August 9, 1770, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette. David Hall and William Sellers, printers of the Pennsylvania Gazette, gave Collins’s notice a privileged place on the first page of their newspaper. It immediately followed letters to the editor; as the first advertisement in the issue, readers were more likely to peruse it as they transitioned from news to paid notices. This may have been a professional courtesy on the part of Hall and Sellers, though Collins’s success in Burlington stood to benefit them as well. If Collins managed to establish a thriving business in another town then that meant one less competitor in Philadelphia. Even though Collins called on “his Friends in other Places” to “continue their Favours,” ultimately his new endeavor depended on cultivating a local clientele in his new location.
To that end, Collins proclaimed that he possessed both the skill and the equipment to “give Satisfaction” to his customers and “merit the Approbation of those who may please to favour him with their Commands.” He pledged that he would spare no “Care or Pains” to “perform PRINTING in as correct, expeditious, and reasonable a Manner, as those of his Profession in the adjacent Colonies.” New York and Pennsylvania both had numerous skilled printers. To meet the expectations of customers, he “furnished himself with a new and elegant ASSORTMENT of PRINTING MATERIALS, at a considerable Expence.” To showcase his industrious and commitment to serving the public in his new location, he concluded by noting that “speedily will be published, The BURLINGTON ALMANACK, for the Year 1771.” Residents of New Jersey might prefer such an edition to the alternatives published in New York and Philadelphia. If not the first mention of an almanac for 1771 in the public prints, it was one of the first, nearly five months before the new year. In promoting it so soon, Collins not only sought to incite demand but also to demonstrate his commitment to fulfilling all of his responsibilities as printer in a new location. Although he hoped to turn a profit on the Burlington Almanack, publishing it was also a service to the public.