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Ralph Inman, Boston Evening-Post, 14 May 1759, "Shop Advertisement," [at bottom of column], Courtesy, American Antiquarian Society

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Ralph Inman, Advertisement

Ralph Inman, a successful merchant, advertised imported British goods in Boston newspapers. His stock was varied, suggesting the lesser degree of specialization in colonial retailers' outlets in comparison with those in England. His wares included merchandise typical in women's advertisements, such as cloth, as well as metal goods usually found in the stock of male traders, such as parts for stills.

A friend of Elizabeth Murray's since the early 1750s, Ralph Inman had offered her a letter of credit when she traveled to England to order goods for herself in 1753. Her suppliers in London urged her not to accept such an offer from someone who was not related. Later, during the 1760s, their friendship deepened, as Ralph, then widowed, traveled with and socialized regularly with Elizabeth and her second husband, James Smith. After James died in 1769, Elizabeth took a two-year trip to Great Britain. Shortly after her return to Boston in 1771, she and Ralph married.

For more on Ralph Inman, see Patricia Cleary, Elizabeth Murray: A Woman's Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000).


For other examples of colonial advertising, see Trade Cards, Broadsides and Advertisements in Browse the Collection portion of our site.