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.
A baby was what would be called a DOLL today, but by no means necessarily made to look like a baby. Occasional portraits show a child with her baby or doll, like the one of three young girls dated 1600-20 [Kevill-Davies (1991)]. The doll is stiff, probably because it was made of wood and elaborately dressed in a contemporary adult style. Apart from illustrations such as this one, information on children reacting to their dolls is hard to come by, though Nicholas Blundell recorded how his two little girls 'buried one of their Babbys with a great deale of Formallity [and with] a Garland of Flowers Carried before it' [Diaries (Blundell)].
Much more information can be gained from the shops and promotional literature of retailers. These indicate that dolls were widely available and often very cheap. For example, one sixteenth-century retailer had 'ij Rattylls vj horses & i baby' valued together at only 6d [Inventories (1587)]. Another, who died one hundred years later, had several dozen, variously described as made of CLAY, DRESSED and PAINTED as well some so-called Dutch babies [Inventories (1682)]. Valuations ranged from 1d to 12d. Some babies have been noted described as naked, but many were also sold dressed.
Although some alternative names for the BABY have been considered separately, such as DOLL, JOINT, LILLIPUTIAN, STICK, others have not as their meaning is self-evident in their labels and because they only appear in the one document. These include 'Thumbs and Dwarfs', and 'Swivel Arms' [Tradecards (1794)].
The head of a BABY or DOLL. The fact that 'Babies heads of earth' were rated [Rates (1660)], suggest that some babies at least had ceramic heads that were then attached to a body made of another material. Since the heads have not been noted in the shops, they were probably attached to the bodies before sale and consumers were not able to buy one and attach it to a home-made body.
APPAREL that covers the torso as an outer layer. The term does not appear in the dictionaries, but is explained in the single example in the Dictionary Archive; 'in his back Apparell 3 doublits, 2 Jerkins' [Inventories (1637)].
An item of HARNESS for use with a CART or other shafted HORSE-drawn vehicle. It is a broad LEATHER strap up to 7½ INCH wide [Inventories (1769)], or IRON CHAIN. It was attached to the shaft on one side and passed over the CART SADDLE or HORSE PAD to the other. It acts as a counter balance to the BELLY BAND so that together they prevent any up and down movement of the shafts. In one example noted, 'bakbands' were listed together with HORSE PADs and hods, though it is not known what the latter were [Inventories (1769)].
Although this term could have other meanings, in the Dictionary Archive it was applied to a device for alleviating or preventing bed sores in 'invalids troubled with heat in their backs occasioned by continual lying on the same' [Patents (1620)]. The back screen is an example, albeit a minor one, of the professionalisation of medical care. Whereas formerly carers would have had to use their own resourcefulness in alleviating discomfort, increasingly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries new methods were invented and sometimes patented, as in this case.
A board on which BACKGAMMON is played. The term was much less common than BACKGAMMON TABLE. How the 'Mechanical back Gammon Boards' worked is not clear, but they are found advertised in 1808 [Tradecards (1808)].
A nocturnal quadruped of Europe and Middle Asia, remarkable for its distinctive black and white pelt. The SKIN of the Badger was included in the Books of Rates and the HAIR was used for PAINT - BRUSH and SHAVING BRUSH.
Badger was also the name given to a dealer in CORN and other commodities, who bought from the producer and carries them elsewhere to sell; in other words, a middleman. The system of direct contact between the producer and the end user was still considered ideal by many, although it was increasingly impossible to maintain. The badger was therefore tolerated, but was obliged to take out a license.
The term is derived from the Persian word 'bafta' meaning woven. Baftas were a kind of CALICO, made especially at Baroch, although they were also made in other parts of India. Yule included a quotation indicating that the cloths were 'carried white to Agra and Amadabad, in regard those cities are nearest the places where the INDIGO is made that is us'd in colouring'. They were also apparently painted red and black for the Asian market, though imported white into this country. Milburn included them among INDIAN - PIECE GOODS imported from Bengal. The earliest date given by Yule is 1598. Baftas have not been located in the Dictionary Archive, except possibly as the 'Baffs with Gold Flowers' imported in 1682/3 [Houghton]. Probably they were sold in the shops under a generic term like CALICO. They would have in any case been banned for home use in the early eighteenth-century prohibitive legislation.
A TEXTILE, in the form of a LINEN CLOTH imported from HOLLAND, but almost certainly not a form of BAGGING. In [Rates (1657)] it was included under the heading FLANDERS LINEN. Most of the linens imported from this area were named after the town where they were originally made, but there are no suggestions about which town could be identified with this fabric. The anonymous author of the Merchant's Warehouse concluded that GULIX was 'of all Cloth the whitest except BAG HOLLAND'.
Bagging was a particular way of reaping PEASE and BEANS and sometimes WHEAT, whereby 'The Work-man, taking a hook in each hand, cuts them with that in the right hand, and rolls them up ... with that in his left, which they call bagging of Pease' [Plot (1677), quoted OED, Bagging]. This method was used instead of pulling up the haulm by the roots. The method left the roots with their nodules containing nitrogen in the ground, thus helping to fertilize the next crop. The only reference in the Dictionary Archive, 'Rakes & bagging bills', valued at only 9d [Inventories (1750)], suggests that in some cases a bagging bill or bagging hook was used to do the cutting, while the RAKE was held in the left hand to assist in the rolling up.
A TUB used in baking BREAD. The term was probably a variant of either a KNEADING TUB or a DOUGH TUB, each of which had a different function. One example associated the baking tub with a SEARCE [Inventories (1720)], which suggests it may have been used in the early stages of baking, that is sifting the FLOUR. More probably a baking tub was multi-functional.