What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Seasonable notice will be given in this gazette, to give gentlemen an opportunity to advertise in the first number.”
William Goddard, the printer of the Pennsylvania Chronicle in Philadelphia, continued his efforts to establish a new operation in Baltimore. In the early 1770s, Maryland had only one newspaper, the Maryland Gazette, published by Anne Catherine Green and Son in Annapolis. In late October 1772, Goddard placed an advertisement in that newspaper to announce his intention to publish the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser “as soon … as I shall obtain a sufficient Number of Subscribers barely to defray the Expence of the Work.” He also solicited advertisements, stating that they “shall likewise be accurately published, in a conspicuous Manner, with great Punctuality, at the customary Prices.”
Nearly seven months later, Goddard inserted an update in the May 20, 1773, edition of the Maryland Gazette. He had opened a printing office “in Baltimore-town,” where “PRINTING in all it’s various branches, [was] performed in a neat,correct, and expeditious manner, on the most reasonable terms.” The printer also informed readers that he would begin publishing the Maryland Journal “As soon as proper posts or carriers are established.” They could expect at least one more update in the Maryland Gazette before that happened because Goddard wished “to give gentlemen an opportunity to advertise in the first number.” While advertising could aid merchants, shopkeepers, artisans, and others in capturing the markets served by Baltimore’s first newspaper, Goddard also knew from experience that advertisements accounted for an important revenue stream.
In his notice, Goddard attended to both advertisers and subscribers. He requested that the “gentlemen” who served as local agents “who have been so obliging as to take in subscriptions … transmit the subscription lists (or the subscribers names and places of abode) as speedily as possible” so he “may be enable to ascertain the number necessary to be printed” as well as make arrangements for delivering the newspapers “to every subscriber.” Goddard was still three months away from publishing “the first number” of the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, but his notice in the Maryland Gazette kept the public, including prospective subscribers and advertisers, apprised of his progress. In the coming months, the Adverts 250 Project will examine Goddard’s success in attracting advertisers for “the first number” and subsequent editions of Baltimore’s first newspaper.