To Be Sold
A likely NEGRO MAN
About twenty-two years old, has had the small
pox and measles. Any family intending to
settle in Nova Scotia, could not meet with one to an-
swer their purpose better, with a warranted title.
Enquire at No. 210, Queen Street
(This ad was 6.8cm by 2.9cm as
printed in the original newspaper.)
James Rivington was born about 1724 in London, England, and died in New York City in July 1802.
Rivington's Royal Gazette was printed in New York City during the Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence. New York was occupied continuously by the British throughout the Revolutionary War — until November 1783 when the British army left New York forever. New York was the last city in the United States that was occupied by British forces after the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty in September 1783 that ended the war.
On 12 April 1773, Rivington launched his New-York Gazetteer, a weekly newspaper published in New York. This controversial newspaper ended on 23 November 1775, when a party of armed men from Connecticut entered the city on horseback, raided his office, destroyed his press and melted down his type.
Rivington went to England, obtained a new press and type, and resumed publication on 18 October 1777, calling the paper Rivington's New-York Royal Gazette, published twice each week.
The Royal Gazette issue of July 19, 1783 – the issue containing the advertisement copied above – was printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper 60.0cm × 46.0cm (a "broadsheet") folded once to make four pages.
After the departure of the British army from New York on 22 November 1783, Rivington changed the name of his newspaper to Rivington's New-York Gazette and Universal Advertiser, but circulation declined rapidly and the last issue appeared on 31 December 1783.
Reference: The New York Press and Its Editors
Book 12, Chapter 21, The History of New York State published 1927
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, or The Connecticut, New-Jersey, Hudson's-River, and Quebec Weekly Advertiser
22 April 1773 - 9 December 1773
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, or, The Connecticut, Hudson's River, New-Jersey, and Quebec Weekly Advertiser
16 December 1773 - 23 November 1775
Note the subtle name change,
from Gazetteer (above) to Gazette (below).
Rivington's New-York Gazette, or, The Connecticut, Hudson's River, New-Jersey, and Quebec Weekly Advertiser
4 - 11 October 1777
(published on Saturday each week)
Rivington's New York Loyal Gazette
18 October 1777 - 6 December 1777
(published on Saturday each week)
The Royal Gazette
13 December 1777 - 19 November 1783
Rivington's New-York Gazette and Universal Advertiser,
22 November 1783 - 31 December 1783
In the above slave-for-sale ad, there appear to be several spelling mistakes:
ſmall pox meaſles ſettle anſwer purpoſe
small pox measles settle answer purpose
These look like the typesetter repeatedly confused the letter 'f' for 's',
but they are not mistakes.
They are examples of an old-style spelling that was a well-known
usage in the 1700s when these ads were set in type, but which
disappeared from printed documents in the early 1800s, and from
handwriting a few decades later.
In modern times, our alphabet has 26 letters, and most people
are unaware that there ever were more than the familiar 26.
In the 1600s and 1700s and early 1800s,
The standard English alphabet used in those days in Nova Scotia and
throughout English-speaking North America, and in Great Britain and
throughout the British Empire, had a letter that has now disappeared
from the alphabet. This "extra" letter, correctly used at the time,
is what makes the spelling of these two words look odd now.
Similar spellings appear in the other ads:
praiſe ſeventy foreſail preſſed ſhorteſt
praise seventy foresail pressed shortest
[Note: The modern letter f resembles, but is not identical to, the 27th letter.
The 1783 spellings used the letter called the long-s. Up till the
mid-1800s, the long-s was used for s at the beginning and in the
middle of words. In Roman type the long-s looks like an f with
the cross-stroke on the left only, and in italic type it looks like a
stretched round s.
If a word ended in a single s, the short form was often used. If a word
ended in double s, a long form followed by a short form was commonly
used. If the word had a double s in the middle, one used either two long
forms or a long form followed by a short one.
The following is an example from the statutes of Nova Scotia,
printed in Halifax in 1758. In this text, compare the 'f' in 'Defender'
with the 'long-s' in 'Firſt' (First) and in 'ſaid' (said). Note that the
two letters are similar in shape, but in the 'long-s' the right side
of the crossbar is omitted.
"...being the Firſt General Assembly
convened in the ſaid province."
First page of the Nova Scotia Statutes of 1758
The Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia 1758-1983: A Biographical Directory
edited and revised by Shirley Burnham Elliott, ISBN 088871050X
published 1984 by the Province of Nova Scotia
The long-s began to disappear from printed documents in the 1790s, and
printed examples are uncommon after about 1810. The long-s continued
to appear in handwritten documents for decades after it disappeared
completely from printed documents, no doubt because people who
had learned to write that way continued the usage as long as they lived.
The Straight Dope on the Long S
Why did 18th-century writers use F inftead of S?
Who finally put an end to this abfurd practice?
Why in old English text was an 's' written as an 'f'?
It wasn't; it was just written differently...
Ask a linguist... Elongated S
When did the elongated s fall into disuse..
Long s Wikipedia
The Times of London switched to the short s with its issue
of 10 September 1803; and in the United States, acts of Congress
were published with the long s throughout 1803, switching to the
short s in 1804. But Britain's colony Nova Scotia's statutes used
the long "s" as late as 1816. Despite its disappearance from
printed works, in England (and in Nova Scotia) the long s
survived in handwriting into the 1860s.
How to Read 18th Century British-American Writing
...The lower case s was written in elongated form at the beginning
of a word, in the middle of a word, and when written twice, as in pass.
The elongated s can be mistaken for an f, and ss can look
something like a p...
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Moved to new hosting service: 2006 October 20
Latest update: 2013 October 04