When is “This day published” in 18th century newspapers?

The 17th-18th Century Burney Newspapers Collection is an invaluable database for all scholars of 18th century England. The advertisements  in the classified ads sections are helpful to me in tracing ‘lost’ editions of Priestley’s Rudiments of English Grammars. However, the phrase "This day published" in the ads can be misleading and definitly pose a problem for determinating the publication date of a work to the day.

For example, the British Evening Post advertised that "This day was published" the second edition of Priestley’s Rudiments on no less than four consecutive dates in May and June 1768. In this case, the earliest of the four, dated May 7th is probably the ‘real’ date of publication as there was a teaser ad for the Rudiments in the British Evening Post of April 19th, saying "Speedily will be published". However, when such a teaser ad is not present, it cannot be said for sure when the ‘real’ first edition was exactly published.

The ads appear to be posted on a weekly basis for several weeks or even months. I would like to see comments from anyone who knows more about the practices of dating in ads in 18th century newspapers.

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  1. Lyda

    This is a variant that Murray used in a letter to his brother John, dated 5 September 1803:
    “Please to send me Noah Webster’s Grammar of that edition, which was published since 9th: mo: 1802: no other” [the word “since” was underlined].

  2. Ingrid Tieken - Boon Van Ostade

    On the date of publication of Johson’s Plan for the dictionary, Reddick (1990: 81) writes: “At least one newspaper, Berrow’s Worcester Journal, announced the Dictionary‘s publication on ‘This Day,’ 3 April; however, the actual date of publication which the papers began to report at the end of March was 15 April”.

    Reddick, Allen (1990). The making of Johnson’s Dictionary 1747-1773. Cambridge University Press.

  3. Ingrid Tieken - Boon Van Ostade

    I have found the same thing for Lowth’s grammars. I have also found “In a few days will be published” and “Just published”. It is clear, I think, that the exact date of publication did not seem to be important, just the fact that a grammar had been newly published or was about to appear. This is unfortunate in light of the claim that Priestley made saying that his own grammar (1761) had been published about a month earlier than Lowth’s (1762), of which Tierney, the editor of Dodsley’s letters (the publisher of Lowth’s grammar) writes that it came out on 8 February, as announced by the Public Advertiser. I have, however, been unable to find the advertisement in question in the database.

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