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Swiping Right in the 1700s: The Evolution of Personal Ads | Longreads

Mon, 02/24/2014 - 07:36 -- rprice

The first personals were Missed Connections, London, 1727-48 ads hovered on the edge of respectability because they were public, and could be seen by all and sundry. An ad that ran in the General Advertiser in March 1748 concerned a “lady, genteely dressed,” seen leading “a string of beautiful stone horses through Edmonton, Tottenham, and Newington” (now outer boroughs of London): “This is to acquaint her, that if she is disengaged and inclinable to marry, a gentleman who was on that occasion is desirous of making honorable proposals to her; in which state if he be not so happy as to please, he will readily purchase the whole string for her satisfaction.” to place an ad is to participate in a self-styled market by advertising a product without showing it: its qualities alone are meant to shine, and it would take a talented novelistic hand indeed for the brief ad to give a sense of the being behind it. One can always read between the lines, but in the very act of describing oneself