What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“She carries on the MILLINARY BUSINESS in all its branches, and will be much obliged to her FRIENDS for a continuance of their favours.”
The Bowers continued their advertising efforts in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal in March 1773. William gave directions to the new location for his shop and advised readers that he “continues to carry on the CLOCK and WATCH-MAKING BUSINESS in all its branches.” Katharine, a milliner and shopkeeper, promoted the “very neat ASSORTMENT of MILLINARY GOODS” she recently imported and sold at the same location that William made and repaired clocks and watches.
The two previously placed a joint advertisement with the primary purpose of informing current customers and the general public of their new location. William’s portion of the original notice was a little longer than Katharine’s portion, mostly as a result of providing more extensive directions to the new shop at “the fourth corner of Tradd-street and the Bay, lately possessed by Messrs. Mackenzie & Tunno, and next door to The Great Stationary and Book Store.” In terms of describing the goods and services they provided, William and Katharine occupied similar amounts of space in that earlier notice.
Such was not the case with the new notice. William’s portion of the advertisement repeated, the type still set from the previous iteration, but Katharine submitted entirely new copy that required twice as much space as William’s portion. That made her business the focal point of the shared advertisement, especially since her headline for “MILLINARY GOODS,” in a larger font than anything else in the notice (including their names), appeared in the center of the advertisement. In addition, Katharine adopted a strategy deployed by many merchants and shopkeepers. She listed a “Neat assortment of fashionable CAPS, … a great variety of sash and other RIBBONS, fashionable FANS, women and girls white and coloured GLOVES,” and various other items. In a nota bene, Katharine declared that she “carries on the MILLINARY BUSINESS in all its branches, and will be much obliged to her FRIENDS for a continuance of their favours.” In other words, she hoped the clientele she cultivated would follow her to her new location.
Although William and his endeavors had a privileged place at the beginning of the shared advertisement, the length and format of their respective sections made Katharine’s business more prominent in this variation. That may have been an indication that she contributed as much to the household income through her entrepreneurial activities as he did. William’s name appeared first, but not in a way that overshadowed Mary’s business.