What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“ALL Kinds of Blanks used in this Province, and good Writing Paper, to be sold by the Printer hereof.”
Charles Crouch, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, regularly inserted advertisements for goods available at his printing office into his newspaper. Consider the May 29, 1770, edition. Under a heading for “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” on the second page, Crouch ran a notice that called on “all Persons indebted to him” to settle accounts. It further advised that he “has plenty of Hands” employed in his printing office and “will undertake any kind of Printing-Work, which will be executed with the greatest Care and utmost Dispatch, and on reasonable Terms.” On the fourth page, Crouch ran an advertisement for “BLANK QUIRE BOOKS, ruled and unruled, and Blank Receipt Books” as well as a pamphlet concerning “An Act for regulating and ascertaining the Rates of Wharfage of Ships and Merchandize.” That notice was interspersed among others that advertisers paid to have inserted.
Several other advertisements merit notice for their particular placement on the page. One briefly informed readers: “JUST PUBLISHED and to be sold by the Printer hereof, A new CATECHISM for CHILDREN.” Another advised prospective customers that “A Second EDITION of THOMAS MORE’s ALMANACK, for the present Year, may be had at Crouch’s Printing-Office in Elliott-street.” A third, similarly short, announced, “ALL Kinds of Blanks used in this Province, and good Writing Paper, to be sold by the Printer hereof.” These three advertisements were particularly noticeable because they concluded the first three pages of that issue. The advertisement for the “CATECHISM for CHILDREN” appeared at the bottom of the final column of the first page. It was the only advertisement on that page, conveniently placed to bring the third column to the same length as the first two. The advertisement for the almanac and the advertisement for the blanks and paper appeared in the lower right corners of the second and third pages, respectively. Only the fourth page did not conclude with one of Crouch’s advertisements. Instead, the colophon occupied that space. Arguably, it served as an advertisement as well. Crouch used the colophon to promote the services he provided: “CHARLES-TOWN: Printed by CHARLES CROUCH, in Elliott-Street; where all Manner of Printing Work is performed with Care and Expedition.” As readers perused the newspaper, the last item they encountered on every page was a short advertisement that promoted some aspect of Crouch’s business. Both the placement and the repetition likely made them more memorable.
Eighteenth-century printers frequently used their newspapers to promote other aspects of their business, including books, stationery, and blanks for sale as well as job printing. Their access to the press allowed them to place their notices in advantageous places to garner additional attention from readers.