See explanations below this image for specific notices on this page for more information about the words used and to hear the ad being read aloud.
This advertiser cleverly combines a lot of information in one ad that gives us the flavor of Baltimore life around 1812. There were no supermarkets and no travel agents, but if you wanted to go to Rotterdam, you could just check the ads for which ship might be headed there. While you were at the ship, you could also pick up some rice and salt!
Even in the early 19th century, everyone wanted their washday whites to look their whitest. People did not have the benefit of washing machines or of bleach, but a product called bluing – and called “fig blue” in this ad – could be added to the wash. It gave a slightly bluish tint that removed any suggestion of yellow, and thus made white things look whiter.
Today we enjoy a food distribution system that means you can buy just about any kind of food anywhere, at any time. Not so 200 years ago, when specialty and rare foods only turned up from time to time. This innkeeper ran an ad informing people that he would be able to serve green turtle soup. The green turtle is a sea turtle that lives close to coasts and was often hunted for food. The green turtle, though still found in many parts of the world, is considered endangered today.
It is hard for us to believe that people could be bought and sold just like merchandise, but 200 years ago in Baltimore, this was the case. One advertiser indicates that he wants to buy a cook; it would have been understood that the cook would be a slave. The other advertiser wants to sell a 27-year old man and a 13-year old girl.
Today’s real estate ads nearly always mention garages and how many cars they will hold but 200 years ago, the concern was stables and how many horses you could fit in them!