Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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According to the OED, a bashron is a KETTLE. However, in the sixteenth century bashrons and kettles were rated separately, and the rate for the former was less than two thirds than of the latter, so they have been similar, but they were not identical. The term has not been noted except in the Books of Rates.
In a first sense, it was possibly an English corruption of the French 'basane' and basils have been noted in this form; for example, 'bassands whyt & tawne' [Inventories (1545)], and 'Tanned Bassens Dryed' [Inventories (1679)]. The variant 'basin' needs especial caution as in '11 dosen ½ of red a black basins at 10s p dosen' [Inventories (1700)]. This could easily be interpreted as a correct spelling of BASIN, though the context should make clear which was intended. In this sense a basil was a BASIL SKIN.
More commonly today, basil is the popular name of the genus, Ocymum, consisting of aromatic, shrubby plants, widely dispersed in tropical and sub-tropical countries. The best known species are the culinary herbs, Common or Sweet Basil, Ocymum basilicum, and Bush or Lesser Basil, Ocymum minimum. In this sense, the name may have been confused with Basiliscus, and have been attributed some effectiveness against snake bite. Although not native to Britain, Sweet Basil was included in Culpeper's Complete Herbal as a garden plant with some possible medicinal properties, although he found the authorities disagreed about it 'and rail at one another, like lawyers. Galen and Dioscorides hold it not fitting to be taken inwardly' while 'Pliny and the Arabian Physicians defend it'. Culpeper, on the principle of like treats like, believed it effective against scorpion stings and snake bite, although he did not seem entirely convinced [Culpeper (new ed.)]. Basil has not been noted in the APOTHECARY shops, but it was also found being used in an eighteenth century recipe for SNUFF [Recipes (Bellers)] and in a 'Travelling sauce' [Recipes (Bradley, R.)].
As a SKIN: Found described as BLACK, BROWN, RED, STAINED, TANNED, TAWNY Found describing TREE Found used to make GLOVES
Found in units of DOZEN Found imported by the DOZEN
As a HERB: As SEED found described as Bush, LARGE
Probably a form of LEATHER made from SHEEPSKIN, in which case the term may well be synonymous with BASIL SKIN. However, an OED quotation dated 1794 given under 'basil' suggests that it may have been an inferior leather that tore almost like paper.
A circular vessel, of greater width than depth, with sloping or curving sides, used to hold water and other liquids, especially for washing purposes, hence WASH BASIN, and its common association with EWER, as in 'bason & Ewer' [Inventories (1634)]. In other sources, but not in the Dictionary Archive apparently, the term was used for a CHAMBER POT or in a CLOSE STOOL. Occurrences in the Dictionary Archive show that many households had only one basin, but several POTTINGERs or PORRINGERs, vessels of similar shape but different function.
Basins in the early part of the period were mostly made of metal, whether formed by BATTERY or CAST. The latter method is indicated by the presence of 'two bason moulds three score pound Weight' among the equipment of a Pewterer [Inventories (1637)]. In the eighteenth century other materials, particularly forms of CERAMIC were used for the SUGAR BASIN and the SLOP BASIN, both used in the ceremony of making TEA.
A basin, particularly a WASH BASIN, was usually placed on some sort of stand, but it seems to have had no particular name until the eighteenth century. Those noted in the Dictionary Archive include 'bason Stole' [STOOL] [Inventories (1543)], 'Basons bord' [Inventories (1590)], 'bason frame' [Inventories (1660)], and 'Bason stand' [Inventories (1780)], but there were others. The basin STAND, seems to have become the usual name, often being made of MAHOGANY; that is, it had become a fashionable piece of furniture.
As a vessel: Found described as BLUE, Breakfast, CREAM, DELF, EARTHEN, ENGLISH, GREAT, HALF PINT, HAND, LARGE, LITTLE, OLD, PAINTED, PINT, SMALL, WHITE, YELLOW Found describing BOWL Found made of BRASS, CHINA, COPPER, LATTEN, MASLIN, PEWTER, WOOD
Found in units of PAIR Latten basins found rated by the C
As a SKIN: Found described as DRIED, RED, TANNED Found describing SKIN
See also BARBERS BASIN, BASIL, CANDY BASIN, SLOP BASIN, STRAINING BASIN, SUGAR BASIN, WASH BASIN.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Gloag (1991), 104.
One of the most important containers in the early modern period both for storage and carriage. Baskets were usually made of WICKER, CANE or RUSH, but other materials have been noted including TREEN [Inventories (1637)], Marram [Inventories (1700)], and LIME twigs [Houghton]. The basket was only a standard measure for a few commodities; for example the MEDLAR was rated by the basket, containing two BUSHEL [Rates (1660)].
The number of differently named types of basket is large, and often little or nothing is known about the distinguishing features. The list of stock owned by one basket maker shows what variety there was. Many of his have not been noted elsewhere in the Dictionary Archive under their names: lapp basketts; Glass baskette; one dozen of fine basketts; two Rinsse basketts; Egge basketts; hand basketts; Strawe basketts; Marram basketts; small basketts; banqueting basketts; night basketts; markett basketts; Crosse basketts; Twelve Rims & foure buttoms [Inventories (1700)]. Other types are listed here following, together with their first appearance in the Dictionary Archive.
Found described as BLACK, EMPTY, FINE, LITTLE, Lumber, OLD, Pretty, QUILTED, Round, Square, WHITE Found used for BEAN, BOOK, BREAD, CANDLE, CINDERS, CORN, EARTHENWARE, FIG, FRUIT, GRAIN, LEMON, LINEN, MALT, NIGHT GOWN, OATMEAL, PLATE, RAISIN, SUGAR, TRENCHER, Washing Found made of Bulrush, CLEFT WILLOW, FLAG, RUSH, SATIN, STRAW, TWIG, WICKER
Found as a unit of measure for COAL, MEDLAR Found in units of DOZEN Found rated by the DOZEN
See also BASKET CHAIR, BASKET LACE, BASKET ROD, BASKET SALT, FLASKET, SPORT, TAPNET, WISKET.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
A CHAIR of which the shape was formed with BASKET RODS, filled in with WICKER or some similar material. The term has been noted in the Dictionary Archive, mainly in southern England, and not at all after 1700, though there can be no doubt that this type of chair was made much more widely but under other names, such as WICKER CHAIR.
A type of STILL HEAD. It is found only once in the Dictionary Archive as '1 Copp' still w'th a Copper baskett head' [Inventories (1671)], and not at all in the other dictionaries consulted. It is not clear how it differed from an ordinary still head.
The term Basket LACE has been found neither in the dictionaries, nor in the local glossaries, but it has been noted in three inventories in the Dictionary Archive, all dated before 1610. In one, the lace was listed under 'Cruel wares', so was presumably made of CREWEL, and was in units of the GROSS, valued at about 7s the gross, though the WHITE was rather dearer [Inventories (1583)]. The other example from the Midlands was valued at roughly the same [Inventories (1590)], and may also have been made of crewel. The other example from western England was made of SILK and SILVER thread and was measured by weight [Inventories (1606)]. Presumably basket lace was so called because its pattern resembled that of BASKET work.
A straight, slender shoot or wand, cut from a tree or bush to be woven to make a BASKET and other articles made in a similar way like a BASKET CHAIR. Most probably they were the more substantial rods that provided the framework. HAZEL was one wood commonly used. They were usually traded by the BUNDLE, stipulated in 1784 not to exceed 3 FOOT in circumference, though according to Zupko there were local variations [Zupko (1968)].
Ther term refers to SALT made from the salt springs of Cheshire, so called from the vessels in which the BRINE was evaporated. The brine was pumped up into reservoirs, and thence into large IRON evaporating pans about 12 FOOT square by 1.5 FOOT deep. The product was a fine, granulated salt [Hatchett (1967)].
The other meaning of the term refers to the common PERCH or an allied freshwater species of FISH, as well as the so-called 'Sea Bass'. The minimum size allowed for sale of these FISH was regulated [Acts (1714)].
An obscure term found occasionally as in 'The coffins the wenscote bords the bass bords & peicees of bords' [Inventories (1696)], where it may be a corrupt version of 'base'. Probably the 'Bast boards' noted once in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books are the same [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)].
A MAT made from BASS or BAST. The term is also found elliptically as 'Bass' as in 'Matts of Different Sorts. 9 Oval and Round Basses' [Inventories (1780)]. Richard Bradley referred to the 'Bass-Mats that Gardeners use' [Bradley (1736, facs. 1980)].
Almost equally commonly used for this term is BASS, as in BASS MAT. Strictly, it refers to the inner bark of the linden or LIME tree, but sometimes it was applied loosely to any similar fibre, such as split RUSHES or STRAW. The bark was cut into strips and coarsely plaited. It was then sold as Russia matting or BASS MAT. Bast was also used to make BAST ROPE and the BAST HAT, as well as providing a fashionable chair seat or bottom, as in 'six littell basse botto-med Chaires' [Inventories (1662)].
Harvesting bast was destructive of trees and so the practice was prohibited [Acts (1663)], probably with little success. Other acts suggest that much bast was imported and was seen as a high-value product worth smuggling [Acts (1769)].
A HAT made of plaited BAST. Since the taking of bast in this country was prohibited, most bast hats were probably imported. These hats became very fashionable in the eighteenth century. An act of 1769 referred to the smuggling of 'goods of high value by landing in 'Out Ports ... and ... removed from thence by Land Carriage into London' and specifically mentioned bast hats, as well as the bast used to make them, among the goods to be controlled by the act [Acts (1769)]. Bast hats were also carefully itemized in the Books of Rates suggesting a similar anxiety to regulate the importation of a fashionable product.
A term of unknown meaning, found only in the 1657 Book of Rates where it was used to describe THROWN SILK [Rates (1657)]. The other descriptors in the same entry are all place names, so Bastan is probably a hitherto unidentified place of origin for some silk products.
As a substantive (often in the plural), bastard was a sweet kind of SPANISH WINE resembling MUSCADEL in flavour, though the term was sometimes applied to any kind of sweetened WINE. It appears only once in the Dictionary Archive in the 1660 Book of Rates, along with other wines of a similar type [Rates (1660)].
Bastard was also used adjectivally to describe a range of products that were not made of the accepted materials or were produced in the established way. In this sense it may signify a cheaper product, and fit the usual meanings given to the term of 'Not genuine, counterfeit, spurious; debased, adulterated, corrupt.' But it may more interestingly indicate innovative methods of production that threaten the existing producers. It is rarely possible to identify why this generally pejorative term was applied. For example, there are several examples of bastard MILAN FUSTIAN in the Dictionary Archive, more than once given in the confusing form of 'bastard myllion' [Inventories (1592)] or the like, but in what way it was distinguishable from other Milan fustian is not clear.
BASTARD was sometimes applied to cheaper substitutes; in this case possibly YOUNG FUSTIC was intended. It has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive, but appears once in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)].
OED suggests it was a TIMBER tree from South America or the WEST INDIES, possibly Matayba apetala or Ratonia apetala. However, in an act of 1790 it was given ans an alternative name for the LOCUST tree, which is in a different genera [Acts (1790)].
Apparently a speciality of the West Country. Eric Kerridge, who refers to them briefly and rather ambiguously, seems to suggest that they were made with a WARP of LINEN [Kerridge (1985)]. Bastard serges have been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of an Exeter Clothier [Inventories (1685)].
Often referred to elliptically as 'bastards'. A SUGAR made from the SYRUP that runs off during the formation of a SUGAR LOAF in the SUGAR POT. These syrups are subsequently evaporated without the addition of any extra sugar in pans and then poured into large moulds, and the syrup again drained off. They were thus a type of REFINED SUGAR [Acts (1781)], though not quite of the quality usually indicated by that term. Bastards were, according to Rees, 'the principal article in the sugar-trade' [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)], though if this were so, much of what was called sugar in the shops must in fact have been bastard sugar, since the term is not frequently found.
A LADLE for moistening a roasting joint of MEAT with melted BUTTER, fat, etc. The term was largely interchangeable with basting SPOON, and the two have not been noted together in the same text. Both terms were largely superseded by BASTER in the eighteenth century.