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An old Medford advertisement.

AMONG the curios and relics in the Society's rooms is one that bears on the business activity of the old town. It is a little printed circular, now nearly seventy years old, and its border of geometrical design also clearly indicates a date of long ago. Besides, the [p. 69] advertiser was a woman, and one who only asked a just recognition in business. It is a curiosity, not only from a typographical point of view, but from the method of its announcement and enumeration.

Mrs. A. B. Mason

Takes this method to inform her friends and the public that she has taken a Store at Medford, and offers for sale a good assortment of family Groceries, comprising [almost] every article usually called for in that line; and solicits a share of patronage, proportionate to her endeavors to please.

Among her assortment she would enumerate the following
Hyson, Young Hyson, Souchong and Pouchong Teas,
Flour, Raisins, Almonds, Figs and Goshen Cheese;
Molasses, Coffee, Cocoa, ground and unground Rice,
Ginger, Cloves, Nutmegs, Cassia and Jamaica Spice.
Sugars of all kinds, and better you will seldom see,
Made by black and white, by labor bond and free—
Entry Mats large and small, the produce of Manilla
Soap of [all1]kinds made from tallow and barilla—
Choice Butter just from the land of steady habits,
By tub or single pound just as you please to have it—
Lemons fresh from Sicily, and as you and I know,
Far better than those from the Island of Palermo-
Oranges too, and whether you want few or many,
Be sure and take those from the Isle Messina
Brushes, Straps and Razors to smooth the prickly chin,
Oil to slick the hair, and Lavender to polish down the skin;
Brushes “to shine de boot, to slick de coat and friz de hair,”
And French Cologne to make the face and neck look fair;
Sponge, Paste, and Day & Martin's Blacking,
To improve the shoe and keep the vamp from cracking.

The smallest favor received with grateful thanks,
And bills received in payment on all the solvent banks;
If you please to purchase, or favor with a call,
Stop at the new store, between the Church and Vil-Lage Hall.

April 18, 1840.

We notice that the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery then existed; also that the national banking system was [p. 70] not then established. While not a little of geography is in evidence, the writer of this old time notice little dreamed that ‘produce of Manilla’ would ever grow beneath our national flag, or that Florida oranges would be preferred to those of ‘Isle Messina.’

Tonsorial artists and shoe-shine parlors are not mentioned by this Medford grocerywoman, yet she carried the stock in trade of both; and though not a bachelor lady, knew all about tea, giving a good assortment first place and mention. Her modesty of claim to full stock is also shown. Inserted by pen and ink is the word ‘almost,’ before the words ‘every article.’ Was it the printer that omitted ‘all’ in the line on soap? That was also written in, and both have an asterisk referring to a foot-note, also written, thus, 2Blunderhead.

We may ask, Who blundered? Was it a frank admission on the part of the writer, or a caustic criticism on the printer?

The location of the ‘new store’ was the site of the present Odd Fellows Building; but again we query, was the building itself new, or only the business adventure of Mrs. Mason the new store? As to this we get no reply from our oldest residents, but there are some who remember the store in some later years, when as school children they bought their books, slates and pencils there. They also recall that Mr. Mason ‘tended store’ and was a man of some peculiarities, contrasting somewhat with ‘her endeavors to please.’

We also notice Church, instead of meeting-house, and that the town-house built the previous year was Village Hall, a name that didn't stick even in the old town days; but now the glory of fresh paint and new golden letters proclaim to all passers, city Hall.

This was the surest way of advertising twenty-seven years prior to the first attempt at a local paper in Medford, but not all advertisers ventured in rhyme as did Mrs. Mason.

1 Blunderhead


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A. B. Mason (4)
Thomas D. Rice (1)
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Lavender (1)
Cassia (1)
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