Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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In reference to the name, ancient writers stated that the flower appeared at the time of the arrival of the swallows, and withered at their departure. The story of the use made of the juice by swallows was probably suggested by the name.
Celandine is a name applied to two unrelated plants, the Common or Greater Celandine, Chelidonian major, sometimes called SWALLOWWORT, and to the Small or Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, also called 'pilewort' because it was believed to be effective in the treatment of piles (or 'figwort' for the same reason, 'fig' being another name for piles). The thick yellow juice of the former was supposed to be a powerful cure for weak sight and for jaundice, presumably on account of their yellow flowers and juice, while the latter was used to treat piles and the King's Evil [Culpeper (1792)].
It was probably the former plant that was used in one recipe at least for PLAGUE WATER [Recipes (Smith)], resulting possibly in a more complex preparation than CELANDINE WATER, which was used for the same purpose.
This preparation has been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive among a long list of medicinal waters [Inventories (1625)]. According to Nicholas Culpeper, it was a DISTILLED water of the greater CELANDINE, used 'with a little sugar and a little good treacle' against 'the pestilence' [Culpeper (1792)]. It was, therefore, a simplified form of PLAGUE WATER.
A turnip-rooted variety of the VEGETABLE, CELERY, hence its alternative name of 'Large-rooted Celery'. Celeriac appears in the Dictionary Archive only as SEED in the stock of specialist SEED merchants.
A medicinal SNUFF, intended as its name implies, to cure disorders of the head, widely available, and sometimes branded. In the nineteenth century the term was sometimes shortened to cephalic. It is doubtful whether the product remained the same throughout the period since it has been noted in the Dictionary Archive as early as 1707 [Newspapers (1707)], yet the 'Cordial cephalic snuff' was not patented until the 1770s [Patents (1773)]. A cephalic snuff was still available in 1790 [Newspapers (1790)], and the OED records it as 'Cephalic' as late as 1834. It was probably the same as, or very similar to, 'The Golden Snuff' [Newspapers (1708)], which was claimed to cure much the same conditions.
One ingenious entrepreneur proposed that 'Those who take much of the common snuffs, may prevent their bad effects by mixing with them a proportion of this excellent cephalic' [Newspapers (1790)]. He also claimed that 'Persons who visit the sick, unhealthy places, or hot climates, will find the Snuff an admirable preventive of infection; and it is particularly serviceable in those complaints of the h[e]ad which Painters, &c. are subject to'.