Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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A TEXTILE from the Middle East, though the OED suggests it may have originated in China. The OED defines it rather cautiously as a fine fabric, probably of SILK. Leif Wilhelmsen endorses this, but suggests that the fabric did not survive the Middle Ages [Wilhelmsen (1943)]. Probably the 'Comashes out of Turkey, the piece' rated in 1660 are the same [Rates (1660)].
According to the OED, it was originally made in Cambray in Flanders, Kameryk in Flemish. It was a fine LINEN - TEXTILE similar to the later MUSLIN and to LAWN with which it was often associated. Some sixteenth-century shopkeepers had as many as half a dozen varieties in prices ranging from 2s to 11s the ell, while one in 1671 had no less than 14. Evidence from the shops and from the various legislative regulations show that cambric was produced in the PIECE of 13 ELL, and the HALF PIECE or demy piece of 6½ ell. Cambric was used to make ARTIFICIAL FLOWERs, HANDKERCHIEFs, and many small items of APPAREL. One unfortunate consequence of the high esteem in which cambrics were held was the frequency with which either the fabric itself or articles of apparel made from it were stolen.
Cambrics were largely imported from France and Holland. John Houghton showed that over 6000 pieces were imported in 1694 [Houghton]. These attracted both high duties and even prohibitions, once its manufacture started in the British Isles. Louis Crommelin (later anglicized to Crumlin), who had spent some time on the continent where he had presumably learnt the Dutch process of bleaching in the piece, set up a Cambric works in Kilkenny in Ireland in 1698. Successful manufacture was also established in Scotland at about the same time and the Scots became one of the major producers. Scottish cambrics were regulated by [Acts (1726)]. They were to be 7½ yard long and 5/8, 7/8 or 1 yard wide when whitened. IRISH cambrics were less kindly treated by Parliament; their importation being prohibited for a while after the English Linen Company was set up to manufacture cambric in 1764.
It would appear from Milburn that cambrics were also manufactured in Bengal in India, and he included them among INDIAN -PIECE GOODS [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. If correct, this is an interesting example of a European technique being transferred to India; most transfer would appear to have taken place the other way round. Presumably Indian cambrics were made from COTTON.
Found described as COARSE, dyed of all colours, FINE, flat, FLOWERED, FRENCH, lilac, PLAIN, PRINTED, SCOTCH, STRIPED Found describing MUSLIN Found used to make HANDKERCHIEF, HEAD, HEAD DRESS, NECKCLOTH, RUFF, STOCK, SULTAN, TOILET, TUCKER, WHISK
Found measured in the shops by ELL, PIECE, YARD
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Kerridge (1985), 122, Montgomery (1984), 187, Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).
YARN spun from the HAIR of the Angora GOAT. This was, presumably what was imported in the early seventeenth century from TURKEY, and known as 'Turkey yarn'. It had nothing to do with the camel [Kerridge (1985)]. The Angora hair had no felting properties, and was quite unlike CAMELS HAIR, bu it did produce a long lustrous fibre. MOHAIR YARN was another, similar yarn spun from GOATS HAIR.
Cameletto is found in the Book of Rates of 1660 made of 'half silk, half haire' and rated by the yard [Rates (1660)], while Florence Montgomery notes 'camletto' as a variant of CAMLETEEN' [Montgomery (1984)]. Much more common in the Dictionary Archive is TAMELETTO, which is almost certainly a variant name of the same TEXTILE.
It was originally HAIR from camels, supposedly used in the making of CAMLET. However, this is unlikely as camels hair is suitable for felting, and does not consist of the long, lustrous hair required for making the YARN for CAMLET, MOHAIR and other TEXTILEs of this type [Kerridge (1985)]. Camels hair was used for making HATS, and has only been noted in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of people involved in that trade, for example [Inventories (1674)], apart from one chapman. One hand bill suggests that camels hair may have been more important in hatting than has previously been supposed. The advertisement was contained in an elaborate scrolled frame, decorated with foliage and flowers, and incorporating animals whose fur was used in the trade; that is, a camel, rabbits and beavers [Tradecards (18c.)]. The camels hair noted in the Books of Rates was probably of this type.
Camels hair also became a term used for the long hairs from the tail of a squirrel used to make artists paint BRUSHES and PENCILs. This practice is first noted in the eighteenth century, but may well have been earlier.
Camels hair pencil
A fine artists PENCIL or PAINT BRUSH made from so-called CAMELS HAIR, but in fact from the tail hairs of a SQUIRREL. 'These 'pencils' have been noted associated with 'Water Colours in Shells', suggesting that they were used with that medium rather than OIL PAINT, for example [Tradecards (1765)].
An alternative name for SQUINANT or sweet rush, Juncus odoratus. In the nineteenth century, the name was also applied to a sweet-scented grass or rush growing in the Far East (Andropogon schaenanthus). Camels hay was in the eighteenth-century Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)] and used in both MITHRIDATE and VENICE TREACLE [Recipes (Pemberton)]; [Recipes (Pemberton)].
Originally a costly CLOTH, imported from at least as early as the fourteenth century. It was made from SILK and possibly CAMELS HAIR, although it has been suggested that Europeans misunderstood the Arabic name for the Angora goat, and that the second yarn was actually MOHAIR. Broad and narrow, single and double WORSTED camlets were being made in Britain from the early sixteenth century particularly in the area of Norwich. The name, frequently spelled 'chamlet' until after the Restoration, indicated the type of weave, and was applied to fabrics made of many variations in fibre content, including mohair [Kerridge (1985)].
Two eighteenth-century definitions show how variously camlet was perceived at the time. For Samuel Johnson it was 'Originally made from silk and camels hair it is now made with wool and silk' [Johnson (1756)], while the Encyclopædia Britannica described it as plain stuff ... some of goat's hair, both in the warp and woof; others, in which the warp is of hair and the woof half hair and half silk; others again, in which both the warp and the woof are of wool; and lastly, some of which the warp is of wool and the woof of thread. Some are dyed in thread, others are dyed in the piece, others are marked or mixed; some are stripped, some weaved or watered, and some figured' [Britannica (1769-71)]. Several varieties of the basic camlet weave were developed by the Norfolk worsted weavers and given different names such as BUFFIN, and PARAGON. Varying in their treatment and mix of fibres, each had a different appearance and served a different purpose, from those especially good for lightweight clothing to others that were suitable for curtains and hangings.
Camlets were uncommon in the shops before the Restoration, but are frequently found thereafter. The price range was enormous, from 6d to 4s 6d per yard. Generally, the hair camlets were more highly valued. WATERED camlet, which was given a wavy or 'watered' surface by pressing when wet, gives the name to the process of 'camleting', the earliest date of use in the OED being 1687.
Found described as GROGRAM, half HAIR, half SILK, MASQUERADED, PLAIN, SCARLET, SILK, of TURKEY, UNWATERED WATERED, WORSTED Found used for making a CLOAK
Found measured in the shops by PIECE, YARD Found rated by the YARD
See also GROGRAM CAMLET.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Tradecards.
References: Britannica (1769-71), Johnson (1756), Kerridge (1985).
An imitation CAMLET, or one of an inferior kind, it is but rarely found in the Dictionary Archive. A the pattern books cited by Montgomery, however, shows that it was popular and came in a large range of finishes. [Inventories (1726)] suggests that the length of a piece was by no means fixed, given that the tradesman had in his stock pieces of 48 and 26 yards in length.
CAMOMILE lozenges have been noted as offered for sale only once in circumstances that leave it unclear whether they were intended for medicinal purposes or merely as a SWEETMEAT. Possibly this was intentional. Camomile was in the Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)] and was believed to have soothing effects on any part of the body, inward or outward, but it is something of an acquired taste [Tradecards (1800)].
Certainly a PREPARED SAUCE and possibly similar to a spiced VINEGAR although one of the London stockists also sold CAMP VINEGAR. Skill, an eighteenth-century London tradesman, who with regard to the art of promotion lived up to his name, claimed to be the 'INVENTOR of the Imperial & Royal CAMP SAUCES'. He listed them among the 'Richest Sauces in the World', 'admirably adapted for enriching every kind of Stew, Hashes, Made Dishes, &c. without any other seasoning'. This suggests that camp sauce may have been, like SAUCE ROYAL, designed as an addition to sauces and gravies made by a cook rather than one to be set on the sideboard. Since he catered largely for the military and overseas customers, the use of the descriptor 'Camp' was appropriate, though less so when he added such appellations as 'Imperial & Royal'. The advertisement ended with a warning to consumers that 'like other sectors of the market place, products of called Camp Sauce were often very different, made by rivals to his business.' He claimed that imitations of his recipe were usually identifiable as they were called plain 'camp sauce' [Tradecards (1800)]. Competition between rival manufacturers is probably one reason why the ingredients of this sauce remain shrouded in mystery.
A spiced VINEGAR made, according to the OED, by mixing VINEGAR with CAYENNE PEPPER, SOY, WALNUT - KETCHUP, ANCHOVY, and GARLIC, and afterwards straining it. It was one of the many products designed to attract the large military, naval and overseas market. It seems likely that the composition was similar to, but not identical with, CAMP SAUCE as they have both been noted in the same document [Tradecards (1800)].