Salem Shopping in 1774

I’ve been having more fun going through old presentation and research files that I mentioned in an earlier post. This post will be short (on pictures) and sweet (on shopping wishlists) as I share three fabulous advertisements from 1774 editions of the Essex Gazette. Oh, to have a time machine and go back to do some shopping!

John Appleton May 3 1774

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, May 3, 1774

First up… the offerings of John Appleton at his store in Salem. Appleton advertised wares as early as 1768 in the same newspaper. This particular advert has quite the listing, including:

Calicoes and Patch… striped linen for jackets, taffeties … padusays… blue, green and cloth-coloured damasks, … Long lawn, cambricks, Plain and flowered lawns, Lawn aprons, diapers … Cardinal silk … Cotton velvits, …Silk ferrets … Stay trimmings… Women’s English & Lynn shoes … and fish-hooks.

According to the advert, these goods were recently imported from London, and are listed as ‘A fine Assortment of English, India, Irish & Scotch Goods, at the very lowest Rates.’ The image scan is a bit too fuzzy to make out the spelling of every item but one can get a sense of the breadth of variety without knowing the specifics. (And for the record I now want a Cardinal silk cloak… because why not?)

Next up is and advertisement from the following week, May 10-17, 1774. This time we can see the offerings of Nath’l Sparhawk… which is just the best name ever for a shop owner!

Nathaniel Sparhawk May 10 1774

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, May 10, 1774

He had advertised Beavers and Bohea (among other items) in January of the same year but in May was running a much longer column. His goods were coming from London and Bristol and I found it interesting that he named the specific Captains who made the journey. I’m also curious that he sells by wholesale and retail at his ‘CHEAP STORE in King-Street, SALEM, a few Doors above the Custom-House.’ Was cheap a favorable way to describe a shop? Curious minds are wondering but have no answers… yet.

Sparhawk offers many items in common with Appleton, but a few differences can be found including the following:

…changeable lutestrings, black ditto … Quality shoes & coat bindings, Gold and silver Prussian ditto … Children’s red Morocco leather shoes … Black and white whimsey caps, with cords … Plain and flower’d serges … Black and white spider-net, Queens’ gauzes … Black and white catgut … Women’s white and glazed and unglazed kid gloves & mitts … and Coffee.

More than a few interesting items in the Sparhawk list! If I’m transcribing it correctly, whimsey caps (with cords of course) are by far the most curious to me. I’ve not done much serious 18th century fashion research in a number of years so it could be that this is a wildly popular and well-known term. However, it’s new to me and I love the idea of purchasing such an item to wear, just so I could ask for it out loud.  In other adverts, Sparhawk lists them with children’s items and in one case, specifically calls them Children’s Whimsey Caps so it could just a youthful garment – more’s the pity!

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, December 27, 1774

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, December 27, 1774

Last but not least we jump to the end of year for a December 1774 advert, this time provided by George Dublois. Like Appleton, Dublois had been advertising since at least 1768. Many of his goods are the same as the other shops – checks, linens, broad-cloths, camblets, stockings, and the like seem to be common to just about every ad for English (and Irish, Indian, and European) Goods of the period.

A few new additions to this particular set of three listings includes:

… Bath Frizes … knit breeches Patterns … Hatter’s Trimmings of all sorts … crimp and common cap Wire … letter’d and other Gartering, … and velvit Corks.

Velvit corks? Um, okay. A quick googling shows that to be a high quality type of cork. Who knew?

There’s more than a few terms that I’d love to look into more as time allows. But once again, the hour grows late today and I’ll have to save those efforts for another day. Until then, I’ll be having dreams of cap wire and whimsy caps and flowered serges and striped linen jackets… with a few velvit corks and fish hooks thrown in for good measure!


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