June 8

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

Jun 8 - 6:8:1769 Boston Weekly News-Letter
Boston Weekly News-Letter (June 8, 1769).

“He will take second-hand Chaises in Pay for new.”

Adino Paddock offered several methods for consumers to acquire carriages of very sorts when he advertised in the Boston Weekly News-Letter in June 1769. In an advertisement that ran along the outer margin of the second page of the June 8 edition, the coachmaker proclaimed that he “has to sell a second-hand Post-Chaise, a very light Phaeton, and a Variety of Chaises, some of them genteel, and very little wore.” To facilitate purchases, he suggested that he “will take second-hand Chaises in part pay for new.” He also noted that he carried “Wilton Carpeting for Chaises.” In a rather brief advertisement, this eighteenth-century coachmaker invoked several marketing strategies that became common practices for the automobile industry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

First, Paddock offered several models to meet the diverse needs, tastes, and budgets of prospective customers: a post-chaise, a phaeton, and a “variety” of chaises. He also realized that some buyers might not have the means to afford a new carriage but would be willing to purchase a used one, provided that it was in good condition. The “second-hand Post-Chaise” was the eighteenth-century equivalent of a used car. Yet “second-hand” did not have to mean inferior. Paddock stressed that his used carriages “were very little wore,” their quality and durability hardly reduced by having been driven by previous owners. In addition, they some of them were quite fashionable or “genteel.” To aid buyers who aimed to purchase new carriages, Paddock encouraged trade-ins, not unlike the modern automobile industry. In response to his offer to “take second-hand Chaises in part Pay for new,” prospective customers could expect to negotiate for the value of their used carriages that would be applied to the purchase price of new ones. Finally, Paddock acknowledged the benefits of a comfortable and luxurious interior, stressing that he installed “Wilton Carpeting for Chaises.” A carriage was not merely a means of transportation but also a status symbol that incorporated various accessories that contributed to both appearances and comfort.

More than a century before anyone even conceived of producing and selling automobiles, coachmaker Adino Paddock deployed marketing strategies for selling carriages that eventually became staples of the modern automobile industry. An array of models, used carriages, trade-ins, and accessories all played a role in selling vehicles for personal transportation in the eighteenth century, just as they would continue to do when invention and technology made more advanced products available to consumers in subsequent centuries.

May 22

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

May 22 - 5:19:1768 Massachusetts Gazette
Massachusetts Gazette (May 19, 1768).

“Said Paddock will take second hand Chaises in part Pay for new.”

In the late 1760s Adino Paddock operated a workshop “Where the Coach and Chaisemaking Business is carried on in every Branch.” In other words, Paddock made, repaired, and sold all sorts of carriages to the residents of Boston and its hinterlands. He frequently promoted his enterprise by inserting advertisements in multiple newspapers published in the city. In addition to some of the usual appeals made by other artisans, especially appeals to price and quality, Paddock deployed additional marketing strategies that seem strikingly modern.

For instance, in the May 19, 1768, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette Paddock provided a brief overview of some of his inventory. Among the various carriages available, he had “A very good second-hand Coach, Curricle, and several Chaises, some almost new.” He anticipated a common practice in the modern automobile industry. Then, as now, not all consumers could afford or wished to invest in a new vehicle, so Paddock provided an alternate means for acquiring carriages. His “second-hand Coach” was the eighteenth-century equivalent of today’s used car. Also like modern dealerships, Paddock realized that prospective customers balanced the price of a “second-hand” carriage against its condition. What kind of wear and tear took place before it landed in the resale market? To address such concerns, he described “several Chaises” as “almost new.” He offered the best of both worlds to his customers: lower prices for slightly used vehicles still in excellent condition. Paddock also incorporated another innovative marketing strategy into his advertisements: the trade-in. He advised readers that he “will take second hand Chaises in part Pay for new.” He simultaneously made his carriages more affordable and replenished his inventory.

Used vehicles and trade-ins are very familiar to modern consumers who buy vehicles, but these practices did not originate with the automobile industry. Instead, they were already in use in the colonial period, long before automobiles had even been invented. Automobile manufacturers and dealerships eventually adopted marketing strategies that their precursor industry had developed much earlier.

December 9

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

Dec 9 - 12:9:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (December 9, 1767).

“A NEAT SECOND HAND CHAIR … hams, gammons, jowls, and bacon.”

Many colonists placed newspaper advertisements for a particular reason. The December 9, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette, for instance, included several real estate notices that focused exclusively on the properties for sale. Other advertisements cautioned against runaway slaves or described employment opportunities. Some marketed imported goods to consumers. Mary Hepburn’s short advertisement announced that she intended to depart from Georgia and wished to settle accounts.

In contrast, certain advertisements had more than one purpose. If colonial printers and compositors had practiced any sort of system of classification to organize the paid notices in their newspapers, such advertisements would have likely been divided into shorter notices and grouped with similar ones. Instead, the contents of individual advertisements sometimes seemed as haphazard as the assortment of notices printed in the same column or on the same page.

Such was the case with John Morel’s advertisement. In the course of two short paragraphs Morel, a prominent merchant, switched from hawking a used carriage, a “NEAT SECOND HAND CHAIR … with very good harness,” to selling pork products, including “hams, gammons, jowls, and bacon.” In the process, he addressed two very different sorts of readers. Due to the expense, only the most affluent colonists would have been in the market for a carriage, whether new or “SECOND HAND.” However, “any family” would have needed hams and bacon for sustenance.

The dual purposes of Morel’s advertisement, like the hodgepodge of content throughout the rest of the newspaper, testify to habits of intensive reading in the eighteenth century. Given that far more colonists would have been interested in purchasing pork than a used carriage, Morel depended on careful attention to his advertisement. He assumed that readers would not pass over the remainder of the advertisement when they noticed the carriage at the beginning but instead continue reading to the end, including the portion that marketed hams and bacon. Certainly not every reader actually read every word of the newspaper, but the lack of organization made it imperative for readers to cast more than a casual glance to find the content they desired.

September 17

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

Sep 17 - 9:17:1767 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (September 17, 1767).

“The Coach-making Trade is carried on in all its different Branches.”

Elkanah and William Deane incorporated multiple marketing appeals into their advertisement for carriages slated for sale at auction the following week. Just as modern car dealerships do today, the coachmakers stocked several models so potential customers could choose the one that best fit their needs, tastes, and budgets. They may have also offered choices between new and used carriages. Other coachmakers, including Adino Paddock in Boston, advertised used carriages in the 1760s. The Deanes explicitly described both their “Post-Chariot, and Harness” and “one Horse-Chaise, with Steel-Springs and Iron Axeltree neatly finished with Harness complete” as “new,” but not their “Curricle and Harness.” That they instead described as “good.” If the curricle did indeed have a previous owner, it made sense to focus on its condition to reassure skeptical customers.

The Deanes also proclaimed that they pursued their trade “in all its different Branches” to the same standards as in London and Dublin. They had previously advertised that they “made and finished” coaches, harnesses, saddles and accessories “in the genteelest taste” and that employees in their workshop had been “regularly brought up to the different Branches of Trade.” Establishing connections to London and Dublin elaborated on that appeal. Consumers did not need to import carriages from workshops across the Atlantic. Instead, local artisans possessed the same skills and expertise and followed the same styles as in the most cosmopolitan cities in Britain and Ireland. Their coaches rivaled any built elsewhere in the empire.

Finally, the Deanes inserted a nota bene that informed prospective customers that they “warrant their Work for Twelve Months.” The coachmakers regularly included this guarantee in their advertisements, having previously stated in an earlier notice that the items they sold were “warranted for Twelve Months. They did not offer false promises about the craftsmanship of their carriages; instead, they were so confident that they backed up their appeals to quality with guarantees valid for an entire year after purchase.

Buying a carriage was a major purchase for any customer, even the most affluent. Some colonists spared no expense when they imported carriages from workshops in London, yet local coachmakers sought their own place in the market. Elkanah and William Deane underscored the virtues associated with the carriages they made and sold, promising customers the same cachet as well as services, including repair work during the first year, that faraway competitors could not provide.

February 26

GUEST CURATOR: Samuel Birney

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

feb-26-2261767-massachusetts-gazette
Massachusetts Gazette (February 26, 1767).

“TO BE SOLD A standing Top-Chaise … and a very neat Sulkey.”

The advertisement featured today offered two types of carriages, “A standing Top-Chaise” and “a very neat Sulkey.” As the colonies expanded and populations grew, carriages became an important means of travel within cities and between colonies. Colonists made, bought, and used a variety of carriages, also commonly referred to as chairs, chaises, chariots, gigs, whiskeys, and sulkies.

According to Mary R.M. Goodwin, a chaise, which was interchangeable with the term chair, was a “light open carriage for one or two persons, often having a top or calash; those with four wheelers resembling a phaeton, those with two the curricle; also loosely used for pleasure carts and light carriages generally.” Goodwin consulted William Felton’s Treatise on Carriages, published in London in 1796, to describe sulkies. Sulkies were single seated “small, light four-wheeled vehicle, ‘built exactly in the form of a Post-chaise, Chariot, or Demi-Landau.’” Although some accounts referred to them as two-wheelers, the defining feature of the sulkey was its single person carrying capacity, basically making it a private and personal means of transportation. (For more information about the different kinds of carriages Goodwin mentions, see “Wheeled Carriages in Eighteenth-Century Virginia.”)

Carriages were either privately owned by the wealthy who could afford to purchase either locally built or imported carriages. By the 1760s, sometimes they were operated by local companies that charged for transportation.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: Carl Robert Keyes

As Sam indicates, affluent colonists imported carriages of all sorts from England, but by the 1760s coachmakers set up shops and advertised their wares in the largest American cities, sometimes noting that they consulted imported pattern books in order to produce carriages of the same style and quality as those available in London and other English cities. For instance, just a few days after today’s featured advertisement appeared in the Massachusetts Gazette, Hawes and Company, “Coach-makers,” inserted a lengthy notice about their services in the Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette.

Today’s advertisement does not indicate the place of production for any of the conveyances it offered, but it does reveal a significant aspect of the marketplace in the revolutionary era. Just as many colonists acquired secondhand clothing and other goods, a market for used carriages emerged. The previous summer Adino Paddock, who followed “the Coach and Chaise-making Business” at a shop in Boston, advertised that he “always [had] a Number of second-hand Chaises to dispose of, very cheap.” Similarly, Hawes and Company’s advertisement noted that in addition to new carriages they also sold “on the most reasonable Terms, TWO second hand POST-CHAISES, a FAMILY COACH, and several CHAIRS.” Consumers who could not afford new carriages could discover a bargain when considering used ones instead.

The anonymous seller of “a very neat Sulkey” and a “standing Top-Chaise” may have found that maintaining these carriages was no longer practical or affordable. Alternately, the seller may have been in the process of acquiring a new – perhaps more impressive or fashionable – carriage and hoped to apply the proceeds from the sale of the chaise and sulkey to the purchase. If that was the case, the seller presumably was not dealing with Paddock, who pledged that he “will take old Chaises as Part of Pay for new.” These examples reveal that the marketing and financing of cars in twentieth and early twenty-first century resemble techniques launched by coachmakers in the eighteenth century.

 

June 24

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

Jun 24 - 6:23:1766 Boston Post-Boy
Boston Post-Boy (June 23, 1766).

“Said PADDOCK has always a Number of second-hand Chaises to dispose of.”

Coachmaker Adino Paddock made a variety of appeals intended to incite demand for his products and services among readers of the Boston Post-Boy. He promoted his own expertise and the care that went into overseeing everything produced in his workshop. He emphasized his prices (“cheaper than in any other Province on the Continent”) and the fine customer service he provided (“those who employ him may depend upon being served in the best Manner”).

In a separate paragraph, Paddock included two final offers that likely look very familiar to modern consumers, especially anyone who has ever purchased a car. Not unlike today, owning a means of transportation in the eighteenth century was expensive. Paddock, like modern car dealers, offered means for potential customers to purchase his wares while reducing the costs, thus making owning carriage a more achievable goal for a greater number of colonists. While Paddock still addressed a relatively small market, only a portion of colonial Bostonians, he did what he could to bring in as many customers as possible.

Paddock underscored that he “has always a Number of second-hand Chaises to dispose of, very cheap.” Today many consumers purchase used cars because they are a less expensive alternative to new cars. In selling “second-hand Chaises,” Paddock became the eighteenth-century equivalent of a used car dealer.

He also indicated that he “will take old Chaises as part of Pay for new.” Trading in a car to offset the price of a new one has long been a standard practice, but this advertisement suggests that it was not especially innovative in the twentieth century. For significant investments in vehicles for personal transportation, coachmakers like Adino Paddock already devised a trade in system more than a century before automobiles were invented.