December 30

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

Pennsylvania Gazette (December 30, 1772).

“The threatening destruction of orchards by catterpillars.”

Rudolph Hains and Jacob Hains operated a tree nursery “near the Red Lion, in Uwchland township, Chester county,” about twenty-five northwest of Philadelphia, in the early 1770s.  In an advertisement in the December 30, 1772, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette, they related their story of having “for many years past, followed the business of raising young apple-trees, of grafted fruit, of divers sorts, for sale.”  Throughout that time, they “planted many orchards, both for themselves and others.”

Yet the Hains did not place this notice merely to make a sale pitch.  Instead, they framed it as a public service announcement, stating that through their long experience they “found that Catterpillars are some of the worst enemies to Orchards.”  Indeed, the headline for the advertisement proclaimed, “To DESTROY CATTERPILLARS,” inviting readers to peruse it for advice and guidance.  Along the way, prospective customers learned a little more about the Hainses and their business, including Rudolph’s nearly thirty years of experience.  In telling their story, the Hainses warned that “they find a far greater number of [caterpillar] eggs this fall, than either of them ever seen before.”  The problem was so severe that just days earlier Rudolph “gathered upwards of 300 of such Lumps of Eggs” in his orchard in the course of just a few hours.  As a result of a widespread infestation, the Hainses anticipated that “much more damage will be done by them next summer, if not by some means prevented.”  As a remedy, they recommended that readers “pull or cut off their eggs with some instrument for that use … and burn them.”  This required inspecting trees, but the eggs “are easy to be seen sticking on the small limbs of the tree.”

The Hainses offered this advice “for the good of the public” in general as well as for “their customers in particular, who have bought trees of them, or may yet buy.”  There the sales pitch became more blatant.  The Hainses announced that they “purpose to continue said business.”  This public service announcement enhanced their visibility to prospective customers.  It also suggested that customers could depend on an additional service, consultation and advice from the Hainses beyond the initial transaction.  The Hainses concluded their advertisement by asserting that “they thought it their duty to publish this” in order to avoid “the threatening destruction of orchards by catterpillars.”  They invited readers to contact them directly for more information, while also noting that a “sample of the EGGS maybe seen at the New Printing-Office, in Market-street,” where the newspaper that carried the advertisement was published.  This notice served the interests of the entire community.  The Hainses, savvy marketers, hoped that their public service announcement would generate customers for their tree nursery.

August 11

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (August 8, 1771).

“The first Person that ever set up, and regularly maintain’d a Stage Carriage in New-England.”

John Stavers was not pleased when a competitor set up stagecoach service between Boston and Portsmouth in 1771.  In July, he placed an advertisement in the New-Hampshire Gazette to promote his “Stage-Coach, Number One,” proclaiming that “several Years” experience of transporting passengers, mail, and newspapers meant that his drivers provided superior service.  Stavers also suggested that the “Difficulty, Expence, Discouragements, and very little, if any profit” associated with operating the stagecoach for so many years meant that the public should “give his Coach the Preference” over a newcomer “big with Importance” yet lacking experience.

He placed a similar advertisement in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, hoping to draw the attention of prospective passengers at the other end of the line.  Stavers declared that he “was the first Person that ever set up, and regularly maintain’d a Stage Carriage in New-England.”  Regardless of the weather and other conditions, operations continued “at all Seasons” for a decade.  In recognition of both the “Marks of Approbation” he received from prior clients and the “Utility” of the service he provided, he stated that he “therefore humbly hopes that his Carriages will still continue to be prefer’d to any other, that may set up in Opposition to them.”  For those who needed more convincing, Stavers asserted that “his Carriages are universally allow’d to be as convenient, genteel, and easy, and his Horses as good (if not better) than any that have as yet travelled the Road.”  In addition, he promised that “the greatest Care will be taken of all Bundles and Packages.”  For passengers who needed food and lodging upon arriving in Portsmouth, Stavers offered “Good Entertainment at the Earl of Halifax Tavern … equal to any on the Continent,” including any in Boston.  Stavers also listed prices for transporting passengers “in the most genteel and expeditious Manner” from Boston to Portsmouth and Boston to Newburyport so prospective customers could compare rates if they wished.

Stavers never named his competitor in either advertisement, but he did make it clear that he believed his experience resulted in better service for passengers traveling between Boston and Portsmouth.  In addition, he apparently felt that the investment he made operating a stagecoach along that route entitled him to the patronage of travelers who might otherwise choose his rival.  He deployed a carrot-and-stick approach in his marketing efforts, alternating between the describing the benefits associated with his coaches and constructing a sense of obligation for selecting his services.

July 19

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (July 19, 1771).

“Stage-Coach, Number One.”

John Stavers faced competition for clients … and he did not appreciate it.  In the late 1760s and early 1770s, Stavers operated a stagecoach between Portsmouth and Boston.  For a time, he enjoyed a monopoly on the route, but he tried to convince the public that did not necessarily amount to an unfair advantage.  Instead, Stavers contended, he provided an important service to the community “at a very great Expence” to himself when no one else did.  In an advertisement in the July 19, 1771, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette, he asked prospective customers to take into account the “Difficulty, Expence, Discouragements, and very little, if any profit” he experienced “when no other Person would undertake” the route.  He did so in service not only to his passengers but also to deliver “the Mails of Letters and News Papers.”

Stavers depicted that as a heroic effort.  His stagecoach had already “surmounted every Obstruction, and through Heat and Cold, Rain and Snow Storm, push’d forward, at Times when every other Conveyance fail’d.”  Regardless of any kind of difficulty, his operation previously ran like clockwork … and would continue to do so.  The stagecoach set off from Stavers’s tavern in Portsmouth on Tuesday morning and departed Boston for the return trip on Friday mornings.  Stavers hired a “careful Driver” and kept the carriage and horses “in such Order, that Nothing bit some unforeseen Accident, shall at any Time give Hindrance, or by any Means retard the Journey.”  Through experience, Stavers was prepared for any obstacle.

Accordingly, he felt “intitled to” the patronage of travelers now that he faced an upstart who challenged him for business.  Stavers requested that the public “now give his Coach the Preference” rather than hire a competitor “whose Drivers, big with Importance, new and flaming Coaches, expect mighty Things.”  Stavers made clear that he did not believe the competition could live up to its promises, especially in the face of “the first Snow Storm” when the seasons changed. Moreover, he felt annoyed that his rival plied the same route and schedule.  Stavers feigned best wishes for the competition, but simultaneously declared his enterprise “Stage-Coach, Number One,” seeking to establish a ranking to influence prospective clients.  Simultaneously, he asked those prospective clients to take his past successes and sacrifices into consideration when choosing which stagecoach service to hire for trips between Portsmouth and Boston.