J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

“Just imported, and to be sold by Mary Jackson”

After her business partner Robert Charles died, Mary Jackson stepped up her advertising from the Sign of the Brazen Head.

Her main business was brass hardware and metals, both made in the shop and shipped in from Britain. For example, the Boston Evening-Post for 28 Sept 1747 announced:
Just imported, and to be sold by Mary Jackson, at the Brazen Head in Cornhill, all sorts of Ironmongery, Braziery and Cutlery Ware, also Pewter and Lead by the Hundred, and Nails of all sorts by the Cask or smaller Quantities, at reasonable rates.
But hardware wasn’t all that Jackson sold. Like a lot of Boston shopkeepers and importers, she carried other goods, wherever she saw a profit. That brought her into lines more typical of “she-merchants,” such as fashionable dry goods. On 9 May 1748, her Boston Evening-Post ad said:
To be sold by Mary Jackson, at the Brazen Head Cornhill, Boston, sundry close Mournings, viz.

Bumbazeen, Alamode, Lutestring, Norwich Crapes, Tiffany, Hat-band Crape, Paper and Gause Fans, Handkerchiefs, Women’s Lamb Gloves, also Mens and Womens white Lamb Gloves, and Womens Mittens, Shalloons, Buckrams, &c. by Wholesale and Retail

N.B. The said Mary Jackson has got a handsome new Chaise to sell…
Jackson’s late husband had also advertised a chaise from the Brazen Head, back in 1735. The shop’s location on the main street near the center of town may have made it a good place to display a vehicle.

Likewise, the Brazen Head became a sales outlet for produce from New England farms, as these select advertisements from the Brazen Head show.
  • Boston Evening-Press, 19 Mar 1753: “CHOICE BUTTER, either by the Firkin or Tub”
  • Boston Evening-Press, 22 July 1754: “CHOICE Connecticut Pork, Florence Oil, Indigo, and Mould Candles.”
  • Boston News-Letter, 4 Sept 1755: “POWDER, Shot, Flints, [various types of hardware], Desk and Book-case Furniture: With a Variety of either London, Birmingham and Sheffield Country Ware, too tedious to mention.”
In the last advertisement, Jackson also said she would sell the by-now-usual pork in “exchange for Rum, Sugar or Molasses,” indicating both the ongoing cash shortage in the colonies and her ability to sell those commodities on to others. As for the ammunition featured in the ad, that new line might reflect the oncoming war against France.

TOMORROW: A new young partner.

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