‘Lost some Day of the last Week…’

The Daily Post, Tuesday 6th April, 1731, p.4.

Lost some Day

Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Transcription:

Lost some Day of the last Week, five Parrots, 41 Squirrels, one Dozen and seven Monkeys, half a Bushel of Cats, one Pound of live Lizards, 50 Ounces of Dormice, a Boy and four Girls, between a Negro and Tawny-moor Complexion, two Setts of Fox Hounds, one Pack of Harriers, a very fine Collection of Birds, as Tom-Tits, Sparrows, Ravens, Owls, Jackdaws, &c. an extreme beautiful Cormorant, a large Hedge-hog, 69 Guinea Pigs, a great Quantity of Horses, which may have formerly been good, and run for any Plate in England, but are now the worse for wearing, being either lame, blind, or infected with some other Distemper, incident to those Animals, the above having greatly the Esteem of the Proprietor, an adequate Reward will undoubtedly be given, and inserted in the publick Prints, some Time or other.1

An advert intentionally ridiculous, its aim to satirise the many similar offerings that featured in the periodical press – almost all eighteenth century newspapers were supplementing their income with revenue from their advertisement columns.

On the back pages and, during weekends, sometimes on the front pages too, various goods were exhibited and entreated: clothes and bleachfields, houses and school placements, exotic fruits and vegetables, books and pamphlets, theatre productions and foreign singers, ships a-sailing and servants seeking service.

A regular feature of many advert columns was the “runaway” or “stoln” animal. These would range from farm stock to pets, though were mostly horses (a stable feature, then…).

Valuable property, treasured for their farm work, transport and, increasingly in the 18th century, racing (a sport popularised by monarchs like Charles II,  and by the 1740s popular enough that it required government regulation 2). Strayed or snatched horses would often fetch rewards from five to ten guineas, sometimes equaling the price for a runaway slave. The extract below contains two typical adverts for “stole or stray’d” horses from the Lincolnshire area in England, around the same time as the title advert:

Stamford Mercury, Thursday 27 October 1737, p.4.

Stolen mares

Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The author of the title advert may be as subtle as a hammer as s/he pokes fun at the variance of animals and the measurements provided in the real adverts, but with absurd inclusions like “five Parrots, 41 Squirrels, one Dozen and seven Monkeys, half a Bushel of Cats, one Pound of live Lizards, 50 Ounces of Dormice” and an “extreme beautiful Cormorant” – it makes humorous reading and brings a smile to the face of anyone imagining how one would even start to look after such a menagerie.

Like all good satire though, there is a more subtle strain of mockery and wit at work. Alluding to both the popularity of horse racing and the questionable boasts of the horse traders; parodying the increasing number of adverts for the foreign runaway slaves (“a boy and four Girls, between a Negro and Tawny-moor Complexion“); taking aim at the elite sport of hunting with “two Setts of Fox Hounds, one Pack of Harriers” – this could be read as a caricature not just of the similar advertisements, but of the eighteenth century rich, their pursuits, and the spending of their disposable income on the superfluous.

However, do spare a thought for the poor fellow (potentially a “Mr. Noris”) who also paid to feature a few words in that same issue.

One wonders how he felt, turning to the back pages with the eagerness and haste of someone proud to recognise the achievement of appearing in print – still a novelty for most of the country.

How he felt, scanning the pages with an ever growing sense of disquiet – he had paid to enter it in this week’s paper, had he not?

How he felt, finally securing his ad with a deep intake of sweet satisfaction, and exhalation of worry – he had paid to enter it for this week, and his advert looked magnificent.

How he felt, then, as he started relaxing, and read the advert preceding his own…

Lost some Day & Bitch

Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Transcription:

LOST on Friday the 2d Instant, a small
Black and White Bitch, with a cut Tail, a short Head, a
little White down the Face, has newly had Puppies, suppos’d to be
lost near Hungerford-Marker. Whoever will bring the said Bitch
to Mr. Noris, a Coppersmith, in Jermin-street, over-against St.
James’s Church, shall have Five Shillings Reward.
N.B. No greater Reward will be offer’d.3

Thanks for reading – if you enjoyed these short blogs, you can follow me on twitter for more pictures of the curious, the peculiar and the downright silly @NelsonHistory.


Footnotes
Acknowledgement: It goes without saying that I am hugely indebted to the British Newspaper Archives for allowing the public free usage of their electronic copies of the eighteenth century press. Find out more on their website: http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk Please bear in mind that though this blog sometimes represents semi-decent historical enquiry, other times I enjoy just poking fun.

The title image is Jacob Bogdani, A Macaw, Ducks, Parrots and Other Birds in a Landscape (circa 1708-10).
1. The Daily Post, Tuesday 6th April, 1731, p.4. Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive
2. Professor Bruce Boehrer, review of Horse and Man in Early Modern England, (review no. 657)
http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/657
Date accessed: 14 January, 2016

3. The Daily Post, Tuesday 6th April, 1731, p.4. Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

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