Saturday, May 17, 2014

Not Exactly Advertisements

While I have found a plethora of antebellum black barber advertisements in newspapers all across Kentucky, only a couple have taken the form of short articles; both of which were found in a Louisville newspaper. The above mentioned that William Spradling, son of the wealthy and well-known Louisville barber Washington Spradling, had moved his business. This notice ran in the November 11, 1855, issue of the Daily Louisville Democrat

Like normal advertisements it gives the location of Spradling's new shop - or in this case "stand" - but unlike most other advertisements, it offers an endorsement, which seems objective.   

A notice similar to that of Spradling's in 1855 is show above, for William Scroggins' new shop. Like Spardling's article, Scroggins' notice provides the location of the new shop and offers an encouraging endorsement. It, too, ran in the Daily Louisville Democrat, but in the October 22, 1858 edition. 

Since locating them, I have been wondering if these notices were paid for by the barber, who preferred a different format than a traditional box ad, or if they were used by the newspaper for column filler space when they received word that a business was moving or changing owners. It seems to me that ads such as these would get lost among the numerous other similar looking short articles, but then again, I suppose the same argument could be made for the more common box advertisements, too.

Regardless, it appears that Kentucky's antebellum black barbers moved their businesses in attempt to find potentially more customers and thus increase their revenue and profits. If these advertisements were intentional marketing on the part of the shop owners, it shows the barbers' level of business acumen. If they were merely space filler from the newspapers, I am sure the barbers appreciated the free promotion.

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