October 8

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

South-Carolina Gazette (October 8, 1772).

“Dancing & Fencing.”

“THE Sign of the Golden Cup.”

Mr. Pike, a dancing master, and Thomas You, a silversmith, both used graphic design to draw attention to their advertisements in the October 8, 1772, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette, yet they adopted different strategies.  Their notices further enlivened the vibrant graphic design that distinguished notices in that newspaper from those that ran in other newspapers.  The compositor for the South-Carolina Gazette made liberal use of varying font sizes, gothic letters for headlines, italics, capitals, and centering compared to advertisements.

That being the case, the compositor may have played a role in how the dancing master used decorative type and gothic letters to enhance his advertisement.  The headline “Dancing & Fencing” in gothic letters appeared inside a border composed of printing ornaments above a secondary headline spread over three lines: “PIKE’s ACADEMY / for / DANCING and FENCING.”  Compare that to a similar advertisement that Pike ran in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  It featured only one headline, “DANCING and FENCING,” that did not appear in a different font than the rest of the advertisement.  Rather than constituting a second headline, “PIKE’s ACADEMY, for FENCING and DANCING” was part of the first paragraph of the advertisement.  An enterprising compositor at the South-Carolina Gazette likely played a significant role in designing Pike’s advertisement, perhaps assuming full responsibility without consulting the advertiser.

On the other hand, You almost certainly submitted instructions to include a woodcut depicting a golden cup in his advertisement for the merchandise he sold at the “Sign of the Golden Cup.”  You commissioned that image for his exclusive use, previously inserting it in advertisements in the South-Carolina Gazette in December 1770 and March 1771.  Prior to that, he used a different woodcut in his advertisements in December 1766 and July 1767.  He seemed to appreciate that images helped draw attention to his notices.  How to incorporate an image, however, he may have left to the discretion of the compositor.  In 1772, his woodcut of a golden cup appeared in the center, flanked by his name and location.  In earlier advertisements, it was positioned to the left, replicating the placement of woodcuts depicting ships that adorned other notices.

The advertisements in the South-Carolina Gazette testify to both the role of the compositor in designing newspaper notices and occasional collaboration or consultation involving both the compositor and the advertiser.  Rather than dense text, variations abounded in the advertisements in that newspaper, making the South-Carolina Gazette one of the most visually interesting publications in the early 1770s.

September 6

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

South-Carolina Gazette (September 3, 1772).

“KEYSER’s, Lockyer’s, Hooper’s, and Anderson’s PILLS … all warranted GENUINE, from their original Warehouses.”

Of the several entrepreneurs who advertised “DRUGS & MEDICINES” for sale at their shops in Charleston in September 1772, Edward Gunter provided the most complete catalog of his “large and complete ASSORTMENT.”  He listed several patent medicines “all warranted GENUINE, from their original Warehouses” as well as “Double distilled Rose, Lavender, Honey, and Hungary Waters” and “Cinamon, Citron, and Orange Cordial Waters.”  He also carried an array of supplies and equipment, including “labelled Ointment Pots,” “Glass, Marble, and Bell-Metal Mortars and Pestles,” “best London and common Lancets,” and “Pewter Glyster and Ivory Syringes.”

Gunter commenced his list with “KEYSER’s, Lockyer’s, Hooper’s, and Anderson’s PILLS,” leading with a cure for venereal disease that had recently been at the center of a public dispute between the printers of the South-Carolina Gazette and the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  Throughout the month of July, Charles Crouch and Powell, Hughes, and Company engaged in a feud that started over how best to market “Dr. KEYSER’S famous PILLS” and eventually descended into insinuations that the other printer sold counterfeit medicines.  Following the death of Edward Hughes at the end of July, Thomas Powell and Company asserted that they “received a Quantity of Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS, from Mr. James Rivington, Bookseller, in New-York, who is the ONLY Person that is appointed (by the Proprietor) for vending them in America.”

Gunter did not address that altercation directly when he ran advertisements in both the South-Carolina Gazette and the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal in September.  Apothecaries and others who sold patent medicines often stated that they obtained their wares “from their original Warehouses,” as Gunter did in his advertisement, but in this instance the advertiser may have intended for that message to resonate with both readers and the printers who published his notice.  Given that Gunter specialized in “DRUGS & MEDICINES” of all sorts, compared to local printers who sold only a few kinds of patent medicines to supplement other revenue streams, he likely did not consider it necessary to make more pointed comments about the authenticity of Keyser’s Pills he imported.  Instead, he allowed his reputation and experience running an apothecary shop justify why prospective customers should acquire that particular remedy from him rather than either of the squabbling printers.

August 20

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

Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 20, 1772).

“He makes American Punch in Perfection.”

When Robert Benson became the new proprietor of “COLE’S and the GREENLAND COFFEE-HOUSE, in Ball Court, Cornhill,” in London, he placed advertisements in newspapers in South Carolina.  Having formerly worked as a waiter at the Carolina Coffee House, he likely hoped that some merchants who had conducted business there would remember him fondly enough to visit his new establishment when they next traveled to London as well as entrust him to receive “Bills, Letters, and Messages” directed to local associates.  He opened his first advertisement with a headline introducing himself as “BOB, WAITER from the CAROLINA,” but concluded it more formally as his prospective customers’ “obedient humble Servant, ROBERT BENSON.”  In a subsequent advertisement, he dispensed with giving his full name, opting instead to solely use the more familiar “BOB, WAITER from the CAROLINA and PENNSYLVANIA COFFEE-HOUSE, in Birchin Lane.”

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 18, 1772).

Benson made other changes when he published a second advertisement in newspapers in Charleston.  In particular, he declared that “for the Accommodation of American Gentlemen, the South-Carolina, Georgia, and Pennsylvania News-Papers, will be regularly taken in.”  Those newspapers featured a significant amount of news from Europe, especially London, that would have been more quickly and more readily available to visitors to the city, but they also carried digests of news from throughout the colonies, varying amounts of local news, prices current for a variety of commodities in Charleston, Savannah, and Philadelphia, and shipping news from the customs houses in those busy ports.  In addition, readers could glean a fair amount of news (and gossip) from reading the advertisements, including legal notices and advertisements intended to promote commerce and consumption (and notices cutting off credit for disobedient wives who “ran away” from their husbands).  Benson considered supplying American newspapers one of the services for his customers that demonstrated he “will exert his utmost Endeavours to merit their Favours.”  He also declared that he “has fitted up” his establishment “very elegantly.”  In addition to the newspapers, American merchants and other travelers would feel at home at Cole’s and the Greenland Coffee House because Benson “makes American Punch in Perfection.”  Even as colonial merchants took part in London’s cosmopolitan culture, Benson suspected they would welcome a taste of home.  He listed the “American Punch” last in his advertisement, one of several amenities that he hoped would make his coffeehouse an attractive destination.  His competitors relied on reputation and word of mouth to attract customers from Charleston and other towns in the colonies.  Benson, the affable “BOB,” on the other hand, believed that directly marketing his new venture in the colonies would contribute to its success.  He attempted to leverage his reputation while also promoting the amenities that made his coffeehouse a rival to any others in London.

August 16

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

South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary (August 10, 1772).

“The Public may be assured that THEIRS are the GENUINE.”

When Thomas Powell and Company published a midweek supplement, the South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary on August 10, 1772, they proclaimed their intention to print both news and advertising as quickly as possible for the “ENTERTAINMENT” and “EMOLUMENT” of the public.  Headers identifying “New Advertisements” appeared on three of the four pages of the supplement.  Powell and Company placed one of their own advertisements immediately below one of those headers.

That advertisement continued a feud with Charles Crouch, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, that the rivals pursued in advertisements in their newspapers throughout July.  Powell and Company temporarily ceased participating at the time that Edward Hughes, one of the partners, died on July 30, but launched a new volley a short time later.  Their desire to engage Crouch once again may have played a part in their decision to print a midweek supplement in early August.

The feud did not concern the printing trade or editorial policy.  Instead, Crouch and Powell and Company squabbled over how best to market a patent medicine for venereal disease and which of them carried an authentic remedy.  In a new advertisement in the midweek supplement, Powell and Company declared that they “lately received a Quantity of Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS,” echoing the description most recently used by Crouch, “from Mr. James Rivington, Bookseller, in New-York, who is the ONLY Person that is appointed (by the Proprietor) for vending them in America.”  That being the case, Powell and Company implied that Crouch sold counterfeit pills.  “Therefore,” they proclaimed, “as the above T. POWELL, & Co. have always received the Pills sold by them from Mr. Rivington, the Public may be assured that THEIRS are the GENUINE.”

In a nota bene, Powell and Company referred readers to the third newspaper published in Charleston at the time, the South-Carolina and American General Gazette printed by Robert Wells.  “For a surprising Cure performed by the Pills sold by Mr. Rivington,” Powell and Company instructed, “see Mr. WELLS’s Gazette, of August 3, 1772.”  In what capacity did such an account appear in that newspaper?  Was it part of an advertisement?  If so, who placed it?  Was it a puff piece that masqueraded as a news item?  Did it direct readers to purchase the pills from a particular vender?  Did Wells also sell the pills while managing to avoid a confrontation with Powell and Company?  Or did Powell and Company intend for this advertisement to undermine both Crouch and Wells?  Unfortunately, only scattered issues of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette from 1772 survive.  Those issues have not been digitized for greater access.  The combination of those factors prevent exploring what role Wells and his newspaper played in this controversy over marketing and selling patent medicines in Charleston in the summer of 1772.

August 10

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

South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary (August 10, 1772).

“ADVERTISEMENTS of some Consequence to the Parties, are brought in so late, that the immediate Insertion of them in the GAZETTE, would delay the Publication thereof.”

Thomas Powell and Company aimed to provide the best possible service for advertisers who chose the South-Carolina Gazette, such as disseminating their notices to the public as quickly as possible.  That included publishing supplements when necessary.  With a few exceptions, most American newspapers published before the Revolution consisted of a single weekly issue.  Powell, Hughes, and Company circulated a new edition of the South-Carolina Gazette on Thursdays in 1772.  Less than two weeks after the death of Edward Hughes, Powell and Company distributed a South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary on Monday, August 10.

A notice at the top of the first column on the first page explained the purpose of the supplement.  “[I]t frequently happens,” Powell and Company declared, “that ADVERTISEMENTS of some Consequence to the Parties, are brought in so late, that the immediate Insertion of them in the GAZETTE would delay the Publication thereof beyond the stated Day.”  In addition, “others are omitted to make Room for fresh Intelligence” or news just arrived in the printing office. Powell and Company recognized that they had a duty to both subscribers and advertisers, prompting them to “NOW assure the Public, that in EITHER of the above Cases … they will issue a GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY, as soon after their stated Day as possible.”  Publishing supplements minimized delays for both news and paid notices, allowing Powell and Company to fulfill “their Duty, to contribute … to the ENTERTAINMENT, as well as EMOLUMENT, of that Public which so generously supports them.”

The four-page supplement contained both advertising and news, divided nearly evenly between the two.  The advertisements included five that offered rewards for the capture and return of enslaved men and women who liberated themselves as well as several others promoting consumer goods and services.  Powell and Company inserted a heading for “New Advertisements” on all three pages that carried paid notices, though not all advertisements in the supplement appeared for the first time.  Despite these efforts, Powell and Company suggested that more advertising and news flooded into their printing office than would fit in the supplement.  That may have been a strategy to underscore the viability of the newspaper following the death of one of the partners.  A brief notice at the bottom of final column on the third page, the last item the compositor would have locked into place for the entire supplement, advised that “Several NEW ADVERTISEMENTS, &c. now omitted, shall be inserted in Thursday’s Gazette.”  According to their notice on the first page, Powell and Company hoped “to merit a CONTINUANCE” of the support they already received.  Hughes no longer participated in publishing the newspaper, yet, the notice suggested, subscribers, advertisers, and the general public could depend on the South-Carolina Gazette being in good hands with Powell.

July 30

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

South-Carolina Gazette (July 30, 1772).

“WHO … can doubt of the amazing Effects of that powerful and invaluable Medicine?”

A feud between Charles Crouch, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette, and Powell, Hughes, and Company, printers of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, played out in the pages of their newspapers in the summer of 1772.  This feud did not concern their work as printers, nor did it appear in editorials.  Instead, they sniped at each other in advertisements hawking a popular patent medicine, “Dr. KEYSER’S famous PILLS.”

According to advertisements that frequently appeared in newspapers from New England to South Carolina, colonial printers often supplemented their revenues from newspaper subscriptions, advertising, job printing, books, and stationery by selling patent medicines.  Doing so required no specialized knowledge of the cures.  The printers merely needed to supply the directions that often accompanied the nostrums they peddled.  In addition, many consumers were already familiar with the most popular patent medicines, the eighteenth-century equivalent of over-the-counter medications.

Powell, Hughes, and Company ran a lengthy advertisement for “Dr. Keyser’s GENUINE Pills” in the July 9 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.  They opened by stating that “numerous Trials have proved [the pills] to be the safest, best, mildest, and most agreeable Medicine ever discovered, for the Cure of the VENEREAL DISEASE, from the slightest Infection to the most inveterate State of that dreadful and almost unconquerable Disorder.”  They provided a long history of the medicine and its efficacy, concluding with a guarantee “to return the Money, if a complete Cure is not performed, provided the Patient adheres to the Manner of taking [the pills], as is given in the printed Directions.”

In the next issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, distributed on July 14, Crouch positioned his own extensive advertisement for “A CONSIGNMENT” of patent medicines on the front page.  The list of medicines began with “A FRESH PARCEL of Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS, With FULL DIRECTIONS for their Use in all CASES.”  Rather than publish the history of that medicine in his advertisement, Crouch alerted readers that they could read “A NARRATIVE of the Effects of Dr. KESYER’s MEDICINE, with an Account of its ANALYSIS, by the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences.”  He further elaborated, “It were needless to trouble the public with more Encomiums on the Effects of this Remedy.”

That statement, as well as competition for customers, raised the ire of Powell, Hughes, and Company.  Two days later, they updated their previous advertisement, inserting an introductory paragraph that directly addressed Crouch’s advertisement.  The partners, “far from thinking ‘it NEEDLESS to trouble the Public with more Encomiums of the Effects of this Remedy,’ look upon it as their Duty to insert the following Particulars of Keyser’s invaluable Medicine, in order that the Afflicted in this Province, may, in some Respects be made acquainted with the Virtues of the most efficacious Medicine ever discovered, and know where to apply for Relief, without the Danger of having other Pills imposed on them instead the GENUINE.”  Powell, Hughes, and Company implied that Crouch carried counterfeit pills before inserting their original advertisement in its entirety.

Crouch objected to that insinuation.  In the July 21 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, he added a short note to his previous advertisement.  Crouch now stated that he carried “A FRESH PARCEL of Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS, (perhaps the only REAL ONES that can be had in the Province at present) With FULL DIRECTIONS for their Use in all CASES.”  He turned the accusation back to Powell, Hughes, and Company, suggesting that it was they, not he, who attempted to dupe the public with counterfeit and ineffective medicines.

That prompted Powell, Hughes, and Company to double down on their insistence that Crouch peddled counterfeits.  On July 23, they expanded the new introduction of their advertisement, reiterating the “NEEDLESS to trouble the Public” quotation and adding a note about “the Danger of having a spurious Sort imposed on them, notwithstanding any forcible ‘PERHAPS’ to the Contrary.”  Furthermore, they “assured” prospective customers that the pills they carried “were received from Mr. Keyser, therefore there can be no ‘Perhaps’ entertained of THEIR not being the GENUINE, unless it is by such who are naturally Obstinate and Conceited, without one good Quality to entitle them to be either.”

The back-and-forth continued in the next edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  Crouch and his competitors carefully monitored what each said about the other in their new advertisements.  Crouch placed “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” on the first page of the July 28 edition, leading with a new advertisement for “Dr. KEYSER’s famous PILLS” limited to a single paragraph that focused primarily on the controversy that had been brewing for the past few weeks.  He once again stated that he sold the pills and declared that “he really believes (without forcible making Use of the Word “PERHAPS”) they are the only REAL ONES that can be had in the Province at present.”  For the first time, he named his competitors, noting that “it is asserted (with a Degree of Scurrility) to the Contrary, in the latter Part of the Introduction to an Advertisement for the Sale of Keyser’s Pills, by Powell, Hughes, & Co. in a Gazette of the 23d Instant, said to be printed by these People.

Crouch devoted the remainder of his advertisement to upbraiding his competitors and defending his reputation.  “In regard to the mean, rascally Insinuations against men, contained in said Introduction,” the printer stated, “I am happy in knowing that they do not, nor cannot in the least AFFECT me, especially as coming from such Hands.”  He then suggested, “I think it would have been much more to their Credit, to have endeavoured to convince the Public, in a Manner different from what they did, that my Surmise was wrong, respecting the Pills sold by them.”  He concluded with an assertion that “as to my good or bad Qualities, they are submitted to Candour and Impartiality of the respectable Public, whose Favours I shall always make my chief Study to merit; without fearing the Malice or Baseness of any Individual.”

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (July 28, 1772).

Powell, Hughes, and Company did not interpret that as an overture to make peace or change their tone.  On July 30, they began with the “New Advertisements” in the South-Carolina Gazette by reprinting Crouch’s advertisement “From the South-Carolina GAZETTE, AND Country Journal, of July 28, 1772.  [No. 348.]” in its entirety.  They made sure that readers could examine the original, though they also added “(t b c t f.)” to the final line, a notation that signaled to the compositor to continue inserting the advertisement until instructed to remove it.  In so doing, they implied that Crouch intended to publicly shame them indefinitely.  Yet they felt no remorse.  Instead, they implied that Crouch suffered from the effects of venereal disease himself, especially cognitive deterioration, composing his latest advertisement only after taking a pill he acquired from Powell, Hughes, and Company.  “WHO,” they asked, “after perusing the foregoing masterly Piece, produced by a SINGLE Dose of Dr. Keyser’s GENUINE Pills, sold by POWELL, HUSGHES, & Co. … can doubt of the amazing Effects of that powerful and invaluable Medicine?”  They further intimated that Crouch suffered from venereal disease by asking, “After so copious a Discharge by ONE Dose, what may not be expected from a SECOND, or should THAT Patient take a WHOLE BOX?”  Powell, Hughes, and Company snidely asserted that Crouch’s mental faculties were so far gone due to venereal disease that a single dose managed to give him only a few moments of clarity but he needed much more medicine to cease ranting and raving.

Powell, Hughes, and Company compounded the insult in a short paragraph that commented on Crouch’s grammar, further imputing that the effects of venereal disease made it difficult for him to string together coherent sentences.  “In the mean Time,” they proclaimed, “the Reader is desired to correct TWO egregious Blunder, by inserting FORCIBLY for forcible, and THOSE PEOPLE instead of these People.  The Word RASCALLY may stand, as ONE distinguishing Mark of the happy Talents and Abilities of the ingenious Author, as a —.”  Pettiness descended into other insults unfit to print in the newspaper.

These exchanges demonstrate that Crouch and Powell, Hughes, and Company did not peruse each other’s publications solely in search of news items to reprint in their own.  They also paid attention to advertisements, especially when their competitors marketed ancillary goods, like patent medicines, to supplement their revenues.  These printers found themselves in competition to sell “Dr. KEYSER’S famous PILLS.”  Rather than pursue their own marketing efforts, they chose to take umbrage at the strategies deployed by the other.  Many purveyors of patent medicines stated in their advertisements that they did not need to offer additional information because the public was already so familiar with the product.  Crouch may or may not have intended such an observation as a critique of Powell, Hughes, and Company’s advertisement.  Whatever his intention, that was enough to garner a response that further escalated into a feud between rival printers hawking patent medicines.

July 26

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

Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (July 23, 1772).

“Genteel Accommodations, civil Usage, and good Attendance may be depended on.”

When Robert Benson took over operations of “COLE’S and the GREENLAND COFFEE-HOUSE, in Ball Court, Cornhill,” in London in 1772, he placed advertisements in newspapers published in Charleston, South Carolina.  Why did Benson advertise his new enterprise to colonizers on the other side of the Atlantic?  Nic Butler explains that “[t]housands of prospective emigrants first learned about the Carolina Colony and booked passage to that distant land at a small coffee shop in the heart of London.  From the 1670s to the 1830s, the Carolina Coffee House in Birchin Lane served as the epicenter for conversations about the colony, its business opportunities, and its residents.”

Benson introduced himself to readers in South Carolina as “BOB, WAITER from the CAROLINA.”  For some, this might have been a reacquaintance.  Merchants who visited London may have met Benson on their travels.  Similarly, the affable Bob may have interacted with colonizers who passed through the Carolina Coffee House when they migrated to South Carolina.  Several other coffeehouses in Cornhill also served as meeting places for exchanging information about faraway places, including the Virginia Coffee House, the Jamaica Coffee House, the Jerusalem Coffee House, and the African Coffee House.

Benson encouraged colonizers in South Carolina to consider Cole’s and the Greenland Coffee House as alternatives to others in Cornhill.  Building on his experience at the Carolina Coffee House, he assured readers that “Particular Attention will be given to all Bills, Letters, and Messages” left at the establishments he operated.  In addition, for any “GENTLEMEN” planning to visit London, Benson promised “Genteel Accommodations, civil Usage, and good Attendance.”  Those accommodations included suppers every evening as well as a variety of wines and liquors to purchase “Wholesale and Retail.”

Entrepreneurs in England rarely placed advertisements in colonial American newspapers.  In this instance, Benson apparently believed that he could cultivate a clientele among residents of South Carolina who had occasion to travel to London.  Even for those who remained in the colonies, Benson aimed to have Cole’s and the Greenland Coffee House become destinations for correspondence, hoping this would prompt friends and associates of colonizers in South Carolina to spend time (and money) at his coffeehouse.

Learn more about “The Carolina Coffee House of London” and other coffeehouses by reading or listening to Nic Butler on the Charleston County Public Library’s Charleston Time Machine.

May 31

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

South-Carolina Gazette (May 28, 1771).

“He shall receive another CARGO … so that at all Times the Public may be assured of seeing the greatest Variety.”

Philip Tidyman, a jeweler and goldsmith, alerted prospective customers in Charleston that he imported “A LARGE ASSORTMENT OF PLATE, JEWELS,” and other merchandise.  His inventory included gold watches, “Pearls in all Fancies,” tea kettles, and coffee pots.  His wares matched current tastes in London, “all new-fashioned” for discerning consumers.  Tidyman hoped that the items he already stocked would entice readers to visit his shop, but he did not focus exclusively on his current inventory.  Instead, he emphasized that he constantly received new merchandise.  Customers did not have to worry about the selection in his shop stagnating.

Tidyman proclaimed that he “shall receive another CARGO per Captain WILSON” in the near future as well as “Patterns of all new Goods in every London Ship” that arrived in the busy port.  That meant that “at all Times the Public may be assured of seeing the greatest Variety in every Branch of his Business.”  Rather than wait for Tidyman to publish subsequent advertisements, customers could keep current by making repeat visits to his shop.  The jeweler suggested that they were bound to discover something new on each trip.  In so doing, he attempted to create a sense of anticipation among consumers, not only desire for his current merchandise but also longing for whatever might arrive via the next vessels from London.

This strategy may have helped Tidyman distinguish his advertisement from one that Jonathan Sarrazin placed for a “LARGE and ELEGANT Assortment of PLATE and JEWELLERY” in the same issue of the South-Carolina Gazette.  Like Tidyman, Sarrazin stated that he “just imported” this merchandise, but he did not give any indication that he expected additional shipments to keep his inventory fresh.  He published an advertisement for the moment, while Tidyman crafted a marketing strategy intended to endure for quite some time after his notice ran in the newspaper.

May 24

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

Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (May 21, 1772).

“Send their names to the Printers of this Paper.”

The supplement that accompanied the May 21, 1772, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette included “PROPOSALS FOR PUBLISHING BY SUBSCRIPTION, A MAP of the INTERIOR PARTS OF NORTH-AMERICA.  By THOMAS HUTCHINS, Lieutenant in His Majesty’s Royal American Regiment, and Engineer.”  Hutchins explained that the map depicted a region “which must soon become a most important and very interesting part of the British empire in America.”  It included “the great rivers of Missisippi and Ohio, with the newest smaller streams which empty into them” as well as “Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan.”  Hutchins asserted that the map “accurately delineated” the region, “a great part of the country and most of the rivers and lakes … laid down from surveys, corrected by the observation of latitudes, carefully executed by himself” during the Seven Years War and “since the final treaty with the western and northern Indians in 1764.”  The map also incorporated “every considerable town of the various Indian Nations, who inhabit these regions.”  The “extent of their respective claims,” Hutchins noted, “are also particularly pointed out.”  Land speculators and settler colonizers certainly had their eyes on those “respective claims,” despite the Proclamation Line of 1763 that reserved that territory for indigenous peoples.

Hutchins declared that he would publish and deliver the map “as soon as the Subscribers amount to a number adequate to defray the unavoidable expence of the publication.”  Like so many others who wished to publish books and maps, he did not intend to assume the financial risk without assurances that the project would meet with success.  To that end, he invited “those in SOUTH-CAROLINA who may think proper to encourage” publishing the map to “as soon as possible, send their names to the Printers of this Paper.”  Powell, Hughes and Company acted as local agents for subscribers.  Hutching did not, however, restrict his marketing efforts to newspaper notices.  He also distributed broadside subscription proposals that featured almost identical text.  Measuring approximately thirteen inches by eight inches, a copy at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania includes blank space to insert the name of a local agent who could have posted the subscription notice in a retail shop or printing office.  That accounts for the first variation in the text compared to the advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette, an invitation for subscribers to “send their names to [blank]” rather than “send their names to the Printers of this Paper.”  A short paragraph unique to the broadside notice followed that blank: “WE the Subscribers do agree to pay Lieutenant THOMAS HUTCHINS, or Order, for the above-mentioned Map and Analysis, ONE PISTOLE, on the receipt thereof, according to the Number affixed to our respective Names.”  Additional blank space provided room for subscribers to add their names and indicate how many copies they wished to order.  The Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s copy does not have any manuscript additions; no subscribers signed it to reserve their maps.

Newspaper advertisements provided the best opportunity to circulate subscription notices to the greatest number of prospective customers, but they were not the only means of inciting interest in books and maps.  Hutchins and other entrepreneurs also distributed broadsides to local agents to facilitate recording the names of subscribers.  I suspect that a greater number of those broadsides circulated in early America than survive today, increasing the frequency that colonizers encountered advertising media.

Broadside Subscription Proposal with Space for Subscribers to Add Names. Courtesy Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

April 5

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

South-Carolina Gazette (April 2, 1772).

“Be very punctual in their Publications … and be particularly careful in circulating the Papers.”

The first page of the April 2, 1772, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette consisted almost entirely of the masthead and advertisements placed by colonizers.  At the top of the first column, however, Peter Timothy, the printer, inserted his own notice before the “New Advertisements” placed by his customers.  In it, he announced that “my present State of Health will not admit of my continuing the PRINTING BUSINESS any longer.”  Effective on May 1, “Thomas Powell, Edward Hughes, & Co.” would “conduct and continue the Publication of this GAZETTE.”  Wishing for the success of his successors, Timothy assured readers that they could expect the same quality from the publication under new management that he had delivered “during the Course of Thirty-three Years.”  Picking up where he left off, the partners “will have the Advantage of an extensive and well established Correspondence” with printers and others who provided news.  In addition, Timothy declared that they would “be very punctual in their Publications—regular and exact in inserting the Prices Current—continue my Marine List—and be particularly careful in circulating the Papers.”

Timothy addressed subscribers and other readers when he mentioned the “Charles-Town Price Current” and “Timothy’s Marine List,” as the printer called his version of the shipping news obtained from the customs house.  In making promises about the punctually publishing newspapers and attending to their circulation, however, he addressed both readers and advertisers.  Colonizers who paid to insert notices wanted their information disseminated as quickly and as widely as possible, whether they encouraged consumers to purchase goods and services, invited bidders to attend auctions and estate sales, or offered rewards for the capture and return of enslaved people who liberated themselves.  Certainly subscribers wanted their newspapers to arrive quickly and efficiently, but Timothy understood the importance of advertising when it came to generating revenues.  After all, he devoted only five of the twelve columns in the April 2 edition to news (including the “Charles-Town Price Current” and “Timothy’s Marine List”) and the other seven to advertising.  In addition, he distributed a half sheet supplement, another six columns, that consisted entirely of advertising.  Paid notices accounted for just over two-thirds of the content Timothy disseminated on April 2, even taking his “extensive and well established Correspondence” into consideration.

As he prepared to pass the torch to Powell and Hughes, Timothy did not address advertisers directly, but he certainly addressed concerns that would have been important to them.  The South-Carolina Gazette competed with two other newspapers published in Charleston at the time.  Timothy sought to keep both subscribers and advertisers loyal to the publication he would soon hand over to new partners.