Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
This free content was born digital. All rights reserved.
An apothecary was originally one who kept a store or shop of non-perishable commodities such as SPICEs, COMFITs, DRUGS, PRESERVEs, etc. However, in 1617 the Apothecaries Company of London was separated from the Grocers after a protracted struggle [Burnby (1983)], and the term apothecary came to mean one who prepared and sold drugs, although they continued to sell commodities which we would term GROCERY, particularly SUGAR. In theory at least, the College of Physicians in London supervised apothecaries [Burnby (1983)], and inspected their shops for adulteration, though the College had more or less ceased to do so by the eighteenth century, and it never attempted this oversight in the provinces [Porter (2000)]. There the apothecaries continued practically uncontrolled offering both drugs and advice until the Apothecaries act of 1815, which defined the legal qualifications of what came to be known as general practice [Porter (2000)]. The apothecary throughout the period offered a layer of service distinct from both the physician and the surgeon. At this level, apothecaries served as the poor man's doctor. It is significant that the rich Miss Bingley sent for the apothecary and not the physician when she summoned medical help to assist her so-called friend, Jane Bennet, who she regarded as her inferior [Austen (1813)]. There was a further distinction, that between the druggist, who manufactured drugs, and the apothecary, who was primarily concerned with the retail trade, as is shown by the remark by John Houghton that 'Mastic ... is sold by that name in the druggist shops to the apothecaries' [Houghton]. Adam Smith argued that the apothecary could not make a satisfactory living from fees alone, but depended on substantial profits from the sale of medicinal drugs. He suggested that the goods themselves only cost a country apothecary about £30-£40 per annum, and that he probably then sold them at ten times as much, the 'greater part of the apparent profit' being 'real wages disguised in the garb of profit' [Smith (1776)].
In trade, apothecary was used both as a noun and adjectivally to cover all medicaments, although customs officials more commonly referred to DRUGS than APOTHECARY WARE and similar phrases. The two terms seem to have been interchangeable, except that 'drugs' also covered DYESTUFF as in 'Drugs for Dying' [Acts (1708)]. It may have been with this in mind that one appraiser recorded 'a p'cell of Apothecary Drugs' [Inventories (1709)].
See also APOTHECARY BOX, APOTHECARY POT, APOTHECARY SHOP, APOTHECARY WARE, APOTHECARY WEIGHT.
Sources: Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Austen (1813), Burnby (1983), Porter (2000), Smith (1776).
A distinctive BOX used by the APOTHECARY in which to store his goods. Why they were distinctive is not clear, although John Houghton wrote that both LIME and WILLOW were used to make them [Houghton]; [Houghton]. From the context of the only example noted in the Dictionary Archive, the apothecary box may have contained apothecarial WEIGHTS and SCALES [Inventories (1735)]. An early nineteenth-century box in MAHOGANY offered for sale in 2004 was more substantially fitted with two layers, partitions, bottles with stoppers, funnel and mixing bowl, while a Georgian MAHOGANY apothecary box (c1820), complete with its original labelled bottles, scales, mortar pestle, phials and pill maker, key and top brass handle was available in November 2006 at a price nearing £3,000. The illustration accompanying the advertisement shows a box with a lid opening to reveal the bottles etc., and a drawer below [Gardner (online)].
A distinctive POT made of EARTHENWARE or GLASS for use by apothecaries, and made on a large scale by some manufacturers. For example, one had '11 doz: Apothecary potts att ij li iiijs' [Inventories (1699)]. It is not clear, however, whether 'Apothecary pot' was a label applied to the storage pots used by apothecaries, or to the little pots in which they sold their preparations to customers.
It is the shop in which an APOTHECARY sold his wares, and gave advice to customers. The apothecary shop seems to have been the focus of improvement in appearance and style in the eighteenth century, to which other provincial shops were not. One advertisement placed in 'Aris's Birmingham Gazette' stressed the importance of position in the town as in 'A well accustom'd Apothecary's Shop, neatly fitted up' [Newspapers (1741)], while several others used phrases like 'after the modern Fashion' [Newspapers (1743)], and 'Neat and Elegant' [Newspapers (1750)]. More significant is the sign writer who claimed to paint 'Signs, Apothecaries Shops, with handsome Ornaments' [Newspapers (1751)]. Why this should have been so is not clear.
'Apothecary shop' was a term also applied to a personal medicine chest. Nicholas Blundell, while still quite a young man, wrote in his Diary in 1710 that 'Dr Cawood helped me to examain my Apothecary Shop & to put it into Order' [Diaries (Blundell)]. Fifteen years late, he recorded: 'I Examin'd my Apothecary Shop & lay'd out severall Gallipots & Bottles &c: which I intend to give to Apothecary Livlesley' [Diaries (Blundell)].
The goods, particularly the DRUGS, sold, and possibly made by, an APOTHECARY. The term was sometimes shortened to APOTHECARY as in 'in the shope in apothecarry surrups and drugs and haberdaishers ware' [Inventories (1663)] and 'Apothecary stuff' seems to have been identical in meaning [Inventories (1660)]. Although apothecary wares as such have appeared only rarely in the Dictionary Archive, the term was common elsewhere. For example, 'Apothecary' and 'Apothecary wares' were recorded frequently in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books as going up river as well as down river [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)].
The mid-eighteenth century Pharmacopoeia found that only two 'kinds of weight are in use, one in the merchandize of gold and silver, the other for almost all goods besides' [Pemberton (1746), 127. The first was called TROY and the second AVOIRDUPOIS. However, it seems that there was a third system based on troy but modified for use by the APOTHECARY. Like troy the POUND was divided into 12 OUNCE, but thereafter the two systems diverged with the apothecarial ounce divided into eight DRACHM, the drachm into three SCRUPLE and the scruple into 20 GRAIN.
There was the added confusion cause by the fact that the same Latin term 'Libra' was used both for POUND, hence LB, and for PINT, while the Latin 'Uncia' was translated as OUNCE and OZ whether used for solids or for liquids. In medicine the measure for WINE was used in preference to that for BEER or ALE, and a GALLON was deemed to contain eight PINT, each pint equalled 16 ounces (not twelve as in the measure of solids) and each ounce eight DRACHM. A SPOON was deemed equivalent to half an ounce [Pemberton (1746)]. This explains why some medicinal liquids were apparently measured in weights designed for solids, as SPIRIT OF HARTSHORN and SPIRIT OF LAVENDER, and many others.
Confusion was further compounded by the druggists, who used avoirdupois. The result had been that 'old compositions' were given in troy as modified by apothecaries, but new ones were presented in avoirdupois. The new Pharmacopoeia attempted to resolve the problem by setting out a standard system, as explicated above [Pemberton (1746)].
Weights designed for this system have been noted, as well as 'fifteen Setts of Apothcary Weights' [Inventories (1735)] and 'Troy and Apothecary Weights' [Inventories (1790)], as well as the 'Apothecarys Scales' on which to weigh things [Inventories (1716)].
Equipment or the like needed for any purpose, such as 'Instrument Cases, &c. with complete Apparatus for Shaving' [Tradecards (1790s)]. It also seems to have been used in similar circumstances to APPURTENANCE, as in 'a complete and convenient new-built Pot Work, ... with a complete Apparatus fitted for carrying on the same' [Newspapers (1780)]. It was not a common term, but seems to have been favoured by the Patents Office.; hence its use in patents for making STEEL [Patents (1626)], making a BLOCK and SHEAVE [Patents (1762)], or for 'planning and surveying by land or sea' [Patents (1780)].
[apurell; aprerill; appr'll; apprill; app'rell; app'rele; apprall; apperrell; apperrall; apperill; app'ell; apparrill; apparrell; apparrel; apparraile; apparill; apparil; apparell; apparele; apparall; apparale; apparal; aperel; ap'ell; aparyll; aparrill; aparril; aparrell; apar'll; aparill; aparell; apareell; aparall]
It is often found in the form WEARING APPAREL. The usual meaning of apparel in the Dictionary Archive is ordinary CLOTHING generally; CLOTHES and DRESS. Most apparel that is listed appears among the personal possessions of a deceased person. Up to 1660 or so it was often given in some detail; thereafter entries without further detail like 'apparrel woollen and linen' [Inventories (1634)], and 'His purse and App'll' [Inventories (1682)] become more common. Two types of possession, unusual in the early part of the period, also started to appear and seem to have been regarded as of a sufficiently personal nature to be listed sometimes with the apparel, a WATCH and BOOKs; hence entries like 'the decedants wearing apparrell her watch and money in her purse' [Inventories (1677)] and 'His Purse & apparrell Bible & othr' Bookes' [Inventories (1695)].
In the early part of the period, the authorities had a nagging concern about the inferior orders aping their betters and wearing items of dress above their station. A series of acts were passed such as the one 'for the Reformation of Excess in Apparel.' [Acts (1554)], none of which were effective. At least one attempted to push the responsibility onto the sellers [Acts (1562)]. The anxieties rumbled on into the seventeenth century but resulted in no further legislation [Harte (1976)]. By the eighteenth century the nature of the concern had changed. Items of apparel, especially if small, increasingly attracted the attention of pickpockets and thieves. Apart from punishing the offenders if caught (and punishment was severe), the authorities also attempted to regulate through the pawnbrokers and sellers of second hand clothes, who commonly accepted clothes as a pledge [Tradecards (18c.)]. This explains acts like the one making it an offence 'if any Person or Persons shall knowingly buy or take in as a Pledge, any Linen or Apparel, intrusted to any other Person or Persons to wash, scour, iron, mend or make up ...' [Acts (1757)].
In a different use, apparel was similar in meaning to APPURTENANCEs as applied to a house, a gun or a ship. In the Dictionary Archive it appears only in connections with the last of these as in, for example, 'The Vessell called Betty w'th all tackling apparrell & Boats INVMID CN1689MRTG].
The small tree, Malus pumila, a member of the ROSE family, found wild as the CRAB, but developed over many centuries into what is known today as the apple. The round, firm, fleshy FRUIT of the many cultivated varieties was popular in the early modern period, and the trees continued to be developed to produce new varieties. While there were varieties first grown in Britain, a number of others were imported from Europe. Under the instruction of Henry VIII, Richard Harris introduced grafts from France that were successfully cultivated at his orchard in Teynham in Kent. Many of these new varieties were grown in the market gardens of Kent and Surrey that had become established by the sixteenth century [Sanders (1988)]. By the eighteenth century apples had become a commercial crop, thereby reducing reliance on imports from Flanders [Smith (1776)]. Contrary to the practice of cultivation popular today, during the early modern period at least some apples were started from SEED. The Dictionary Archive provides information on a few of the apples that were traded and used for cooking and eating; CODLING, KENTISH, LEATHERCOATS, NONPAREIL, PIPPIN, RENNET, RUSSET. These, however, were only some of the varieties available. Bradley in his 'Dictionarium Botanicum' of 1728 listed as many as fifty-four varieties that had been cultivated in England [Bradley (1728)], while a nurseryman in the 1770s offered for sale over thirty culinary or dessert apples and another 17 for making cider [Galpine (1983)].
Early modern recipes books testify to the popularity and uses of apples. Sweet tasting dessert varieties were eaten raw, despite the suspicion expressed in earlier medieval times about eating fresh FRUIT. For example, the cookery writer, Wynkyn de Worde, in his Boke of Kervynge of 1508 had warned, 'Beware of green sallettes [salads] & raw fruytes for they will make your soverayne seke [your body sick]' [Paston-Williams (1993)]. More commonly though, apples were cooked and served in a SALAD, TART, PIE, or as a JELLY; dishes that became popular after the Restoration. The other major use of particular apple varieties was in the making of CIDER, an important industry.
However, evidence about the trade in apples is elusive. They were rarely recorded in probate inventories; three exceptions are: 'an olde cofer and some apples in it' [Inventories (1638)], 'In the Apple Loft ... Some broomes & Apples' valued at 2s 6d [Inventories (1730)], and 'In the Woodhouse Cole Broomes Wood Rakes Apples & ye Hay valued in with it at nearly £14 [Inventories (1766)]. They were also only infrequently listed in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books, and virtually not at all after 1725 just when the growing of apples commercially in this country was becoming important [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)]. The occasional evidence from diaries shows they were on sale at least in local markets. For example in 1707 Nicholas Blundell sent his cart 'to Leverpoole with Apples which [he] sold for 2s 6d p Buss [Diaries (Blundell)].
The WOOD from the apple tree is of a reddish brown colour, and very hard. It was used for turned work and for making chopping and cutting blocks in which an end-on grain was desirable [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)].
See also APPLE IRON, APPLE ROASTER, APPLE SCOOP, APPLE TREE, CODLING, LOVE APPLE, PIPPIN, RENNET, SIBERIAN APPLE.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Bradley (1728), Galpine (1983), Gloag (1981), Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1998), Masefield et al (1969), Paston-Williams (1993), Sanders (1988), Smith (1776).
An IMPLEMENT found listed together with items from around the kitchen fire, it has not been noted in the dictionaries. It was presumably designed for cooking an APPLE, in which case it is conceivable that it was made in the form of a metal plate with a spike or spikes on it, to catch the juice, or else that it had a long handle so that it could be held over the fire. The term has not been noted after 1665, but the APPLE ROASTER probably replaced it.
An IMPLEMENT found around the kitchen fire that has not been noted in the dictionaries. It was presumably designed for cooking an APPLE. This would require something under to catch the juice, so it was probably made in the form of a metal plate with a spike or spikes on it, perhaps with a long handle so that it could be held over the fire. David Yaxley describes a similar implement called a 'Roast iron', which he believed was for roasting meat [Yaxley (2003)]. The term is more common in the later part of the period, and probably replaced APPLE IRON.
OED suggests an IMPLEMENT made of BONE or IVORY used in eating an APPLE. This matches the only example found in the Dictionary Archive of 'Apple Scoops in Ivory and Bone' TRADECARDS SN1794BTTS], but it tells little of its use. Probably it was for scooping out the soft flesh of a cooked apple, but it may not have been for eating at all, but for cutting out the core.
[thappurtenence; thappurtenance; apurtenaunse; apurtantes; ap'tinancis; appurttenance; appurts'; appurt's; appurtenm's; appurtence; appurtenance; appurt; app'ten'ncs; app'tence; apptence; app'tenance; apprtenance; apperten'ce; appertance; apertinances]
A collective term, usually in the plural, used extensively to describe objects associated with the BED and in other similar domestic or industrial contexts. In the Dictionary Archive appurtenances were very commonly found with the bed, though it less than clear of the precise meaning, for example, 'One feather bed & boulster w'th all the appurtenmts thereof' [Inventories (1666)] suggests that the BOULSTER was excluded, whereas 'on bed & bed steed and Appurtenances belonging to it' [Inventories (1685)] rather suggests the opposite. The most helpful entry is for a CRADLE; 'one Cradle with appurtences as a little rug a Chaffe pillow a feather pillow one blanket 4s [Inventories (1690)]. Other household equipment was also described with appurtenances; for example A JACK [Inventories (1640)] and a GRATE [Patents (1772)]. The 'Iron Appurtenances' listed on their own with no context except they were in the house[Inventories (1676)] probably referred to the equipment in the fire place. Among the trade equipment appurtenances were also fairly common, being found attached to an ENGINE, probably a TOBACCO ENGINE [Inventories (1692)], a LOOM [Inventories (1684)], and a GRINDSTONE [Inventories (1689)].
Outside structures such as buildings, both as houses and as shops, had appurtenances [Acts (1667)]; [Diaries (Turner)]. One probate inventory gave helpful detail; 'Counters Shelves Glass case Coat of arms box of drawers w'th other appurtenances winders quills for Silke &c' [Inventories (1682)].
The most unlikely use of the term is 'Roots & Herbs w'th their Apurtnances' [Inventories (1665)], where the said articles were almost certainly valued along with their containers. In fact, like most of the examples noted, using the term was probably no more than a way of avoiding listing everything in detail, so in most cases the meaning probably varied according to the whim of the recorder.
A stone FRUIT allied to the PLUM, from the Chinese species Prunus armeniaca (Plum of Armenia), with orange coloured, slightly downy skin and flesh, roundish-oval shape and delicious flavour [Masefield et al (1969)]. There is some controversy concerning its introduction into Europe; whether it was brought in by the Arabs, or whether it had already been known in classical Greece [Hess (1981)]. What is clear is that although this fruit was well established in Europe by the Middle Ages, its introduction to the Britain happened later, sometime during the sixteenth century. The first literary reference in the OED is 1555, though William Turner, writing in 1548, mentioned it. He was clearly not well acquainted with this fruit, which he described as 'an hasty peach tree' because 'it is like a peach and it is a great while ripe before the peach trees' [Wilson (1973)]. Although it only grows and fruits well in this country when conditions are favourable, it became fashionable to have ones own tree in the seventeenth century, and stock and SEED were readily available from nurserymen. or more widely available. A list dated about 1620, probably by John Tradescant included two varieties ripening from mid to late August [Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 1461]. However, by the 1770s, one nurseryman was advertising no less than eleven varieties, including the famous 'Moor Park' [Galpine (1983)]. Several diarists record their apricot trees, for instance, Giles Moore bought one from London in 1657 costing 1s 8d [Diaries (Moore)].
As well as being eaten fresh in season, apricots were commonly preserved with SUGAR or SYRUP at various stages of ripening. Green apricots were boiled in sugar and water, while semi-ripe or ripe apricots were made into MARMALADE. As apricots became increasingly a fashionable and high-status food, a plethora of recipes emerged to dry them and to make JELLY, CANDY, CHIPs and SYRUP. By the eighteenth century, apricot kernels, and sometimes the flesh, were distilled with BRANDY to make RATAFIA [Recipes (Ketilby)]. During this period it became fashionable to put whole or sliced fruits, including apricots, in BRANDY (and sometimes WHITE WINE) and store in sealed glass jars. Many of these forms were also found for sale in the shops, preserved [Tradecards (1800)], DRIED [Inventories (1665)], and as CHIPS and SYRUP [Inventories (1740)].
Originally a piece of LINEN or WOOLLEN CLOTH worn as a protective layer by working men and women, and by country housewives, hence BARBERS APRON and SHOP APRON, as well as BLUE APRON and GREEN APRON. Some occupations requiring more robust protection used LEATHER aprons, hence entries like 'Skins for Aprons' [Newspapers (1750)]. Some fabrics were sometimes specifically designed for making aprons including CHECK, GREEN SAY and LINSEY. When intended for this purpose, these TEXTILEs were woven in a particular width. For example an act 'for the better Regulation of the Linen and Hempen Manufactures in ... Scotland' gave specific detail of the size required as 'a yard and 1/8 square' [Acts (1726)], while two probate inventory listed respectivedly '14 y'ds of Aprons at 14d' [Inventories (1726)], and '6 ¼ yds apron width check @ 2/9' [Inventories (1809)].
The purely utilitarian model was turned into a luxury article of CLOTHING in the eighteenth century, being made of materials like SILVER LACE or GOLD LACE or MUSLIN. Fabrics suitable for making up into these fashionable aprons were imported from India and the Far East, which explains why 'Apron' was defined as a muslin in one act [Acts (1700)], and why the STOCKING FRAME was adapted to work elaborate aprons made of, for example, BRUSSELS LACE and OPEN WORK. In this form it was without a bib which were reserved for servants' aprons. These fashionable aprons are found advertised for sale READY MADE. For example, one retailer advertised 'Fifty Suits of curious worked Aprons and treble Ruffles, 3 Guineas the Suit' [Newspapers (1780)], another '50 doz. of very curious open work'd Tambour aprons; only 6s 6d the Apron, worth 9s - 20 dozen Sprigg'd and open work'd Tambour Aprons at 10s 6d, worth £1 1s each from there to £3 3s' [Newspapers (1782)].
The meaning of apron was extended to include other sorts of covering; for example for drivers of carriages, hence 'Gig Aprons' [Tradecards (1800)], and in construction as in 'thre apornes of lead waying on& on halfe & fower pounds xvjs xd' [Inventories (1602)].
Found described as with Bib, bordered, bouffon, CHILD, of all colours, curious Moravian worked, EMBROIDERED, FASHIONABLE, FINE, flounced, FLOWERED, LARGE, minionetted, OLD, OPEN WORK, short, tambour, TROLLY, WHITE, WORKED Found made of CALF SKIN, CANVAS, DORNICK, FLAXEN, GAUZE, HOLLAND, LAWN, LEATHER, LENO, LINEN, LINSEY, MUSLIN, NET, PARAGON, SAY, SILK, SKIN, SPRIGGED - MUSLIN
The string with which an APRON is tied on, made of TAPE or INKLE or similar tough band. They were sold separately from the apron itself, which was probably offered as no more than an appropriately sized piece of cloth. This is why, for example Sarah Fell sometimes recorded the two together [Diaries (Fell)], but more often the purchase of the strings separately as 'by mo pd for inkle for apron strings for Mother 00 00 01½' [Diaries (Fell)]. They have not, however, been noted as such in the shops.
This is a TEXTILE, sometimes STRIPED or CHECKED, suitable for making an APRON. In the Gloucester Coastal Port Books and in sources connected with the Severn valley, aproning was probably woven at KIDDERMINSTER [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)], but it was made elsewhere as well, for example by the DORNICK weavers of East Anglia [Kerridge (1985)].
OLIVE OIL from the region of eastern Italy formerly called Apulia. Apart from its appearance in the Books of Rates as 'Apuglia Oyl' [Rates (1657)]; [Rates (1660)], it does not appear in the Dictionary Archive, and so was probably not distinctive enough to be distinguished in the shops. It was probably what was later called 'Calabrian oil'; this was less esteemed than the best qualities of olive oil [Simmonds (1906)].