What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“SAMUEL BROOME, and Co. have the following GOODS … at their Store in NEW-YORK.”
By the time it made its final appearance in the December 19, 1768, edition, regular readers of Hartford’s Connecticut Courant would have been quite familiar with Samuel Broome and Company’s lengthy advertisement for an assortment of goods available at their store in New York. Over the past five months the advertisement had appeared frequently, replicating its publication schedule in New Haven’s Connecticut Journal.
Broome and Company’s first inserted their advertisement in the August 1 edition of the Connecticut Courant. It then ran in alternating issues, appearing again on August 15 and 29, September 12 and 26, October 10 and 24, November 7 and 21, and December 5 and 19. It did not run on August 8 and 22, September 5 and 19, October 3, 17, and 31, November 14 and 28, and December 12. I have assumed that this advertisement did run on August 15, but not on October 31. Extant copies of those issues were not available to consult, but this would match the schedule throughout the five months the advertisement appeared in the Connecticut Courant. Furthermore, a similar schedule in the Connecticut Journal strongly suggests that Broome and Company’s advertisement did indeed consistently run in alternating issues for the final five months of 1768.
This advertising campaign was ambitious and probably expensive, not just for its frequency but also due to the length of the advertisement. It filled the better part of two out of three columns in the Connecticut Courant, dominating any page on which appeared. Similarly, it filled an entire column in the Connecticut Journal, a newspaper that featured only two columns per page. Despite its length, Broome and Company indicated that they also sold “many other articles too tedious to mention.”
Broome and Company also placed the same advertisement in the New-York Journal. Most merchants and shopkeepers in New York opted to advertise in one or more of the newspapers printed in that city, trusting the extensive circulation of those newspapers to distribute their commercial notices to towns and villages far beyond the city. Broome and Company took a more calculated approach to cultivating new customers and enlarging their share of the market. Their persistent advertising in newspaper published in Hartford and New Haven likely helped to establish greater name recognition on a regional level.