I discovered an interesting index in the ESTC called "genre" (search term GNR). After a little detective work, I determined that this index is an alpha variable, so I moved through the alphabet from A to Z, searching FIN GNR A, etc. I then scanned the results to wager a guess as to what the genre actually was. There may be multiple letter combinations, and I leave these to other, more disciplined detectives. In my single-character searching, I found the following genres:

A Advertisement

D List, or guide

P Proposals, prospecti

S Songs, sonnets, poems, plays (?)

V Almanacs, astronomy

With these in my tool-belt, I set out to chart a very basic course of advertisements (my genre of choice) in the period 1670-1809. I first did a count of all titles in the ESTC by decade, using the wild-care "#" (i.e. FIN IYR 167#). I then qualified each search with the phrase "AND GNR A" to arrive at a percentage. The results are presented in the following table (I will print a graph to bring to class on Tuesday). It is much more dramatic than these data are.)

   PERCENT OF ADVERTISEMENTS IN THE ESTC, 1670-1809  As percent of total titles
       (the label indicates that decade, starting with the labeled date and
              ending with the last year of that decade, e.g. 1670-1679)

  1670:   .1%
  1680:   .7%
  1690:   1.8%
  1700:   1.2%
  1710:   1.2%
  1720:   1.8%
  1730:   1.5%
  1740:   1.3%
  1750:   1.5%
  1760:   2.1%
  1770:   3.7%
  1780:   4.2%
  1790:   4.2%
  1800:   3.5%  (incomplete period)
What I found was an interesting trend in the growth of advertisements during the 18th century. I am unsure as to the particulars of whether these ads appeared entirely separate from other titles, or within journals, etc. At any rate, as they appear in the ESTC, they show a steady percentage during the first 100 years of my search period, hovering around 1.5%. Then the noteworthy phenomenon occurs: the number of ads rises dramatically around 1770, reaching nearly 4% from only around 2.1% the year before. This increase holds throughout the end of the ESTC's possible search range, around 1809.

From my undergraduate English days at Kenyon I know these findings are associated with a growth in consumer commodity in England and the US, particularly considerable demand in England for products from abroad. Of course, many other social, political and economic factors can be listed.