Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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Interpreting this term can be problematic. The primary meanings for 'counter' all relate to the activity of counting, particularly money. So a counter may be a small disc made of BRASS, IVORY, LATTEN or the like and used in counting, or in gambling. Alternatively, it may be a devise like an abacus to assist in performing arithmetical operations, or a table on which money is counted. All three meanings have been noted in the Dictionary Archive, though only the first and the third of these meanings are common in the Dictionary Archive. For examples of the different types see [Tradecards (1771)] and [Inventories (1578)], for an illustration see [Holme (2000)]. As it became more commonplace for customers to enter the shop to browse and perhaps to buy, the counter came almost invariably to mean the table over which such operations were conducted. Some were quite substantial and complicated pieces of furniture, like the 'Counter w'th 3 boards on ye side' and 'under ye Counter 6 drawers' of a Shropshire mercer worth in all 19s [Inventories (1675)]. Although counters in the shop may sometimes have been regarded as part of the SHOP FIXTURES, they were often listed among a retailer's goods [Cox (2000b)].
Evidence in the Dictionary Archive suggests yet other possible meanings, both as a room or space in which, presumably, accounting took place [Inventories (1725)], and as a container or CHEST, for example [Inventories (1654)]; [Inventories (1724)]. That a counter was sometimes a container to keep stock in as much as a flat surface over which to trade is supported by such phrases as the 'Spice in the Counter' [Inventories (1691)], and 'Medicines in the Counter' [Inventories (1779)].
More obscure is 'a spruce Counter the middlest of the nest' left in his will by a sixteenth-century Coventry tradesman [Inventories (1544)]. It is clearly the same type of object as the counter rated in 1582 as the NEST 'containing three in one' [Rates (1582)]. What form these items took, and what their purpose remains unknown.
Found described as BRASS, cross, of different sorts, DOUBLE, false, IVORY, JOINED, LARGE, LATTEN, LITTLE, with neat OAK top, OLD, RED, short, SINGLE, SMALL, WOOD, YELLOW Found describing BEAM, crane, CUPBOARD, DESK, MORTAR, TABLE
Found in units of BOX, LB, OUNCE, PIECE Found rated by the NEST 'containing three in one', POUND
Presumably a TUB designed for use as a HORSE POT, to be fixed in PAIRs by a chain passing over a horse's back. According to Wright, a 'couple' or 'coupling' was a short chain joining two tubs [Wright (1898-1905)].
[coventry blue thrid; coventry blue thread; coventry blewe thred; coventry blew thrid; coventry blew threed; coventry blew ditto; coventry blew; coventrie blew thrid; coventrie blew threed; coventrie blew; coventrey blew thread; coventree blewe threed; coventree blew threed; coventree blew threde; coventre blewe thride; coventre blew thred; covent blew; covender blew thread; coven' blue thrid; covantree blew threede; cov blue; couentry blew thred; couente blew]
A kind of BLUE - THREAD manufactured at COVENTRY and used largely for EMBROIDERY, though what distinguished it from other thread is not clear. It is rarely specifically mentioned in use in probable inventories, although a seventeenth-century Cornish retailer had 'one dozen of blue wrought Napkins', which were probably embroidered with Coventry blue [Inventories (1619)]. Blue thread was a good choice for embroidering white linen as the colour was very fast and would not therefore spoil goods that needed repeated washing.
Coventry blue has been noted in many shops throughout the period spelt variously and often somewhat eccentrically, with valuations ranging from 2s 4d to 5s the LB. However, under that name Coventry blue ceased to be of importance in the nineteenth century and was not mentioned in the standard authorities of the time, for example [Caulfeild and Saward (1885, facs.1989)]; [Perkins (1853)].
[covyntre thread; coventrye thrid; coventrye thred; coventry thride; coventry thrid; coventry threed; coventry thred; coventry thrd; coventrie threed; coventrie thredd; coventrie thred; coventrie thread; coventree threed; coventree thread; coventre thrid; coventra thrid; coven' wt thrid; couentry threed; couentry thred; couentrey thredd; couentre thried; couentr thrid]
Probably COVENTRY BLUE, though it is possible that, like MAIDSTONE THREAD, the spinners of Coventry made a thread other than Coventry blue of sufficiently high quality for it to be designated by the place name. It should be noted too that it has been noted described as WHITE. Although quite common in the shops before 1660, it became less so after, and had disappeared by 1700, unlike Coventry blue, which continued into the eighteenth century. Valuations and units of measure were similar to that other thread, being from 2s 6d to 4s 4d the LB.
The OED suggests that a cover cloth is one used as a cover. In the Dictionary Archive it is most commonly a covering for a BED and seems to have been virtually synonymous with COVERLET. The two have not been noted together, whereas most other bed coverings have been found alongside coverlets. One example of a cover cloth has been noted listed with a SIDE SADDLE [Inventories (1721)]. In this one instance the term is analogous with COVERING, which has also been noted with SADDLERY.
The term has not been noted usefully in the dictionaries, and it appears only once in the Dictionary Archive in the probate inventory of a brazier as 'Couer screws, Knobs & A pair of Andiorns 27 li' [Inventories (1682)]. The context suggests that a cover screw may have been a decorative top that could be screwed into the ANDIRON, which was part of the stock for sale, and not in the house.
A covering or cover is that which covers or is adapted to cover, whether for protection, shelter, concealment, or adornment. This is a meaning found in the Dictionary Archive; for example, a covering for the floor [Diaries (Schopenhauer)], and in SADDLERY as 'one Rydinge pyllyn wth the cov'ynge & brydle' [Inventories (1564)]. Most often, however, it referred to a covering for a BED, though there are some difficulties of interpretation within that simple definition. In one example, it is clear that the covering was part of the structure of the bed, as in an 'old feild bedstead with a wenscote Covering' [Inventories (1665)]. More ambiguous is the 'coveringe of Arrese for the standinge bedd' that could have been part of the bed in addition to the CURTAIN and VALLANCE (perhaps forming the HEAD BOARD), but could equally well have been part of the BEDDING in addition to the white CADDOW and BLANKETs [Inventories (1635)]. However, in most, if not all, other instances, the covering was probably similar to the COVERLET, though not identical since the two have been found adjacent, for example [Inventories (1577)]. Like the coverlet, it would have lain on top of the other bedding to provide a decorative feature, enhancing the image of the bed as the chief peice of FURNITURE in the room.
Coverings could be expensive, in one case valued at between £1 and £2 each in the shop [Inventories (1544)]. Their manufacture could involve up to 20 ELL of fabric, probably usually of LINEN, and they could be decorated with EMBROIDERY like PARK WORK or IMAGEs, for example [Inventories (1577)]. The term, and possibly the object, died out of use after 1700, presumably replaced with other terms and/or other forms of BED COVERING.
Found described as COARSE, DRAFT, EMBROIDERED, fair, FINE, GREEN, HOME MADE, with IMAGEs, OLD, of their own making, of PARK WORK, RED Found made of ARRAS, DORNICK, LINEN, ORRIS, OUTNAL, TAPESTRY, TWILLY, WOOLLEN Found used to cover BED, BOARD, COURT CUPBOARD, DOOR, FLOOR, PILLION, STOOL, WINDOW
[cuverlyd; cov'rlet; cov'r lidd; cov'r lid; cov'r l'd; cov'lyde; cov'litt; cov'lidd; cov'lid; cov'lette; cov'lett; cov'let; cov'led; coverlyt; coverlyd; coverlitt; coverlite; coverlide; coverlidde; coverlidd; coverlid; coverlett; coverleth; coverleet; coverlee; coverlede; coverled; coverleade; coveridd; cover lid; cover lett; cover lead; cou'rlid; courlid; cou'rlette; cou'lyd; cou'lide; cou'lett; cou'let; cou'ledde; cou'led; cou'le; couerlytt; couerlitt; couerlit; couerlide; couerlidd; couerlid; couerlette; couerlett; couerlete; couerlet; couerleed; couerled]
The uppermost cover for a BED, similar to but by no means necessarily identical with, a COUNTERPANE, COVERING or QUILT, though they served the same dual purposes of warmth and decoration. Almost all the terms used for a BED COVERING have been found in the same entry as a COVERLET, including CADDOW, COUNTERPANE, COVERING, HILLING MANTLE, QUILT and RUG, suggesting that there were fine distinctions recognized at the time between them, even if the differences were not consistent over the whole period or from one area to another.
Some coverlets were woven by specialist weavers. Their manufacture was apparently a specialism of YORK in the mid-sixteenth century, where it was regulated by Parliament [Acts (1542)], and in NORWICH [Acts (1552)]. There, coverlets were often made of DORNICK; so much so that the Companies of dornick weavers, bed weavers and coverlet weavers combined in 1544 [Kerridge (1985)], and the two terms became almost synonymous, for example [Rates (1660)]. Less specialized weavers were able to make a living weaving coverlets in other parts of the country, for example, Richard Moore of Derby [Inventories (1582)] and Gilbert Hannam of Midhurst in Sussex [Inventories (1678)]. A useful indication of the equipment required may be found in [Inventories (1578)].
Sometimes more mundane articles were called into use as a coverlet like the 'one couerlet of a sack of spanish wolle' worth only 6d in 1587, though the same owner also had 'two course cou'lets of tapistry' worth together £1 1s 9d [Inventories (1578)]. But from these relatively lowly bed coverings, coverlets also reached the decorative heights that must have focused the furnishing of a room onto the BED like the 'fine large coverlett with birds and bucks' owned by Giles Moore [Diaries (Moore)].
Coverlets were large and measured in units of QUARTER, that is of a quarter of a YARD, sometimes written in the form 6/4 and 7/4 etc. These would have been 6 FEET and 6 ft 9 INCH wide respectively. Customers were able to buy them not only from a weaver but also from some retailers who stocked a range of READY MADE ones, like Roger Palmer of COVENTRY, who had examples from Norwich and York as well as others in 1544 [Inventories (1544)] to a Wolverhampton tradesman who had '37 Coverlids of different Sizes and Sorts' two centuries later [Inventories (1780)].
Found described as for a BED, BERE, BEST, BIRD WORK, BLACK, BLUE, COARSE, COLOURED, DOUBLE, DRUM, ENGLISH, LACEd, LARGE, MIXED, NEW, NORWICH, OLD, RED, RED and YELLOW, RUSSET, of Scotland, SMALL, WHITE.WORN, called two YARD, YORK Found made of ARRAS, CADDIS, CALICO, DIAPER, DORNICK, LINSEY WOOLSEY, LIST, Milton, ORRIS, PATCHWORK, TAPESTRY, THREAD, TOW, TWILLY, of WOOL and HAIR, YARNYARNEN
Found rated by the PIECE
A set of GEAR to be used in the WEAVERS LOOM for weaving coverlets. COVERLET gears have been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive along with WOOLLEN GEARs and LINEN GEARs. Those for making coverlets were rather more highly valued [Inventories (1578)], a possible reflection of the patterned weave used to make coverlets, or perhaps their greater width.
A form of GREEN TEA that was scented, judging from the context of the single example in the Dictionary Archive [Newspapers (1780)]. Later the same term was used for an infusion of cowslip flowers, but this has not been noted in the early-modern period.
A decoction made from cowslips, used medicinally. Nicholas Culpeper commented that 'our city dames know well enough ... distilled water of it adds beauty, or at least restores it when it is lost', though he seems to have preferred an OINTMENT [Culpeper (1792)]. Taken internally it was thought to be 'good for the memorie' [OED, Cowslip].
Although the term had several other meanings, in the Dictionary Archive it was applied to kind of LACE or EDGING with patterning that looked like a cock's comb. However, it is probable that alternative meanings addedd connotations of frippery and show. It has been noted both in association with PURL [Tradecards (18c.)], and as a descriptor of it in PURL LACE [Inventories (1701)].