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May 13, 2011 by Ephemera Society

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by Richard McKinstry

Printed and manuscript advertisements have existed ever since craftsmen, storekeepers, and other business people realized that is was advantageous to promote themselves and their merchandise. In the world of eighteenth-century artisans, a furniture maker would paste a rudimentary label on one of his tables or chests to show the public the kind of work they could expect from him. Broadening the range of promotions further, a craftsman regularly placed advertisements in newspapers or city directories, noting his address, detailing his products, and frequently including illustrations. Sometimes these ads were also circulated on their own. Likewise, a general store proprietor would distribute small-scale ads to announce the arrival of new products or to proclaim special sales. By associating his name with his product or place of business in an advertisement, the craftsman and businessman hoped to enhance their reputations, and they at least implied to buyers that they would stand behind their work and goods.


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