Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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Crochets appear twice in the Dictionary Archive in very different contexts. The earlier one lists 'vij payer of Crochettes' valued at 3s 6d among the equipment of a Blacksmith [Inventories (1592)]. These could be 'crutchets' or forked supports, though the OED's earliest reference is 1772, and it is worthy to note that a blacksmith owned seven pairs.
The second reference to crotchets is nearly two hundred years later. Here crochets formed part of the advertised stock of a stay maker [Newspapers (1760)]. Possibly they were a type of STAYS done up with HOOKS AND EYES (crotchets could be an alternative name for hooks) rather than laces, though this suggestion is rather strained.
Unless the term was used as a variant of CROOK, it referred to an EARTHEN POT, JAR or other vessel, or a BRASS POT, IRON POT or other form of cooking vessel. Usually the context will indicate which is intended even if there was no further definition. For example 'potts and Crocks and Muggs' were EARTHENWARE vessels [Inventories (1691)], so were 'xl dossen of potts and crockes at xijd p dosen' [Inventories (1587)], judging by the valuation. By contrast 'bras pans Kittells & Crocks' were metal cooking pots [Inventories (1676)].
Metal cooking crocks are found almost exclusively in the west country. They were often highly valued, suggesting they were large. For example, one west countryman had 'ij brazen Crocks' valued at 33s 4d, 'ij other brazen Crocks' at 17s, 'ij other Lesse Crocks' at12s, 'ij little Crocks' at 6s 8d; and 'one old broken brasse Crock' at 6s 8d [Inventories (1619)], valuations far higher than corresponding ones from other parts of the country. The association of crock with CAULDRON in one west-country inventory is also unexplained; 'one Brase crocke and Caldron' valued at £1, and 'one Irone Crocke w'th one calderon ' at 4s [Inventories (1646)].
In the sense of an earthen container, a crock has been found used as a BUTTER container [Diaries (Turner)], although it was required by law after 1649 to use a standard size BUTTER POT for this purpose.
In the Dictionary Archive found as an alternative to BRASS, and specifically POT BRASS suitable for making the metal CROCK. It has been noted only in the south west of England, where CROCK seems to have been the usual label for a metal cooking POT. Although there is no reason why the term should not have been applied to CAST IRON, the valuations of the two examples in the Dictionary Archive suggest that it referred to a brass.
First crocus is a genus of bulbous plants, by no means all with yellow flowers, but it includes specifically the blue-flowered Crocus sativus, the stigmas of which became the yellow SAFFRON of trade. Occasionally 'Crocus' was used for 'Saffron, so it is unclear in some contexts whether it was this or the next meaning that was intented, in examples like 'Rosin, glasses, paper, Corck, suger, Gaules, Crocus, tarris bottles, candles, muggs starch, Oaker and Lumber' [Inventories (1685)].
Crocus was next the name given to various yellow or red powders obtained from metals by calcination, such as CROCUS OF ANTIMONY, CROCUS MARTIS and CROCUS METALLORUM. It is not clear to which one it applied when listed on its own, as it quite often was, though on more than one occasion it was listed with Antimony mettallorum [Inventories (1701)], suggesting it was CROCUS MARTIS. On the other hand the context of Crocus Mettalloru' followed by 'Sp't Croci', 'Tinct Croci', and 'Syr' Croci' [Inventories (1730)] suggest that the three were made from crocus metallorum.
While crocus of antimony was used medicinally, Crocus martis was primarily a PIGMENT and polishing agent. It is not known what either 'Croc. Anglican' [Inventories (1730)]or 'Croci Hispan' [Inventories (1690)] were, but the names suggest they may have come respectively from England and SPAIN.
Finally, it was a coarse cheap LINEN CLOTH, though this was not yellow. The anonymous author of 'The Plain Dealing Linnen Draper' described it as 'a very course Linnen ... it is the general sort of brown Linnen, which is used for packing ... it being whited, it wears very little inferior to a right canvas, farther, it being whited it is useful for abandance of other uses, as for Kitchen Cloths' [Anon (1696)].
It is not known how it was made, unless as the bi-product of producing OIL OF VITRIOL, when it was usually called COLCOTHAR. In the nineteenth century, and probably earlier, it was made by mixing GREEN VITRIOL with ALUM, and precipitating it with an ALKALYI such as caustic soda, POTASH or LIME. When exposed to air, this precipitate turned yellow. The product was obscurely referred to in the specifications of two patents, though not in their short titles [Patents (1780)]; [Patents (1794)]; [Harley (1970)].
It may have been the most common form of crocus, and so that term was used for it at times with no descriptor, particularly in contexts where it was intended as a pigment. However, since it did not appear in the eighteenth-century Dispensatory, CROCUS OF ANTIMONY may have been shortened to crocus without a descriptor in medical contexts.
An alternative, and earlier, name for CROCUS OF ANTIMONY. By the eighteenth century the term was often used in veterinary circles according to the Dispensatory in which it had been replaced with crocus of antimony [Pemberton (1746)]. It was prepared in various forms; in an INFUSION as in '4 ounces of Infusio Croci Mettalloru' [Inventories (1675)], in a SPIRIT as in in 'Spir. croci oz vj' valued at 6s [Inventories (1665)], and in a TINCTURE as in 'Tinct Croci' [Inventories (1671)].
Crocus of antimony
The approved method of making crocus of antimony, or in Latin Crocus antimonii, was by heating equal weights of powdered ANTIMONY and NITRE in a crucible, pouring it out and separating it from the dross or 'scoriae'. According to Pemberton, it was used by farriers in great quantities for horses, and for that purpose 'our chemists have gradually retrenched the nitre ... They likewise spare the charge of the crucibles by setting the mixture on fire with a live coal, and giving it no farther melting, than what it would have by its own heat, or by adding a little sea salt.' He added caustically 'It were to be wished, these practices had not taken place in this preparation, when designed for men ...'. Prior to the revision of the Dispensatory in the 1740s, crocus of antimony was known as CROCUS METALLORUM [Pemberton (1746)].
In a medieval alchemic book, first published in 1604, there are complicated and obscure instructions on how to make it. The late seventeenth-century commentary by Theodore Kerckringius claimed it should be 'prepared under a certain heavenly conjunction, and is the better the redder it is: for its color is its soul. This is the true 'crocus of metals', though not like the emetic which is sold under that name in shops' [Valentine (1685, new edition 1992)]. He was perhaps referring to the distinctions made by Pemberton mentioned above, and they are possibly indicated in one apothecarial probate inventory where both 'Crocus mettalor'' and 'vitrum Antimonial' were listed [Inventories (1665)].
An item of HARNESS for use with a CART or other vehicle drawn by a HORSE. It is a LEATHER strap buckled to the rear of the CART -SADDLE and passing under the horse's tail, to prevent the saddle from slipping forwards.
Cross bow lath
The transverse, flexible piece of a CROSS BOW to which the CROSS BOW TWINE was attached, and which provided the force needed for shooting the projectile. According to Randle Holme, this piece was called the LATH when it was made of 'good tempered' STEEL, and a BOW if made of wood [Holme (2000)].
Cross cut saw
A SAW designed to cut across the grain, rather than along it, it was also called 'cross saw'. According to the OED, it was a saw managed by two men, one at each end, for cutting across large pieces of TIMBER. It seems therefore that it was an alternative name for a TWO HANDED SAW or a WHIP SAW.
Cross garnet hinge
In the Dictionary Archive also found abbreviated to GARNET, or cross garnets. It was a type of HINGE, generally of this form, the upright part being nailed to the support, and the horizontal to the door, shutter, etc. Randle Holme called it a 'Composed Hinge' having one half in the form of a DOOR HINGE and the other either of a DOVETAIL HINGE or of an H HINGE [Holme (2000)]. They were made in this hybrid form to accommodate the piece of furniture to which they were to be attached. According to Joseph Moxon, 'Cross-Garnets' were used 'in a Battend-door, Back-door, or Shop-windows' [Moxon (1703, facs. 1989)].
A decorative KNOT, found made of RIBBON, presumably in the form of a cross [Diaries (Blundell)]. Although not noted elsewhere in the Dictionary Archive, various other types of KNOTs, BOWs and FAVOURs are, any of which could have been in the form of a cross knot.
A QUILL from a crow's wing, used as a pen for fine writing; also a small fine steel PEN used in map-drawing, etc. It was also the name given to a plectrum formed of the quill of a feather fixed in jack and set in motion by the keys, used for plucking the strings of a MUSICAL INSTRUMENT like the HARPSICHORD or SPINET. A patent of 1730 proposed to replace such crow quills with ones made of metal [Patents (1730)].
As a symbol of the monarchy and therefore of excellence, the crown was used both as an address, as in 'Ralph Aldersley Shoe-Maker At the Crown and Slipper' [Tradecards (1733)], and as a descriptor of many products. For some, the label stuck for long enough to get a certain general use, as 'crown LACE' did during the late sixteenth century. For other goods the label may have been used because a representation of a crown was incorporated into the design, as in '15 gro of Crowne Coat buttons ijs p gro' [Inventories (1668)]. This was particularly likely in the decade or so after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
The name of crown was applied to a variety of COIN that had, or had once had, a crown on one side. In this period the English SILVER crown, originally coined in the sixteenth century was in circulation, as was the more common half crown worth 2s 6d. Also called a crown was the French 'ecu', as well as other coins of similar value. The crown, though not common remained in circulation throughout the period; hence the report of the theft of 'two Crown Pieces' in 1770 [Newspapers (1770)]. As with other coins in common circulation, it was occasionally used as a measure, in one case to indicate the width of a piece of cloth [Recipes (Berington)].
See also CROWN GLASS, CROWN HOOD, CROWN PAPER, CROWN SOAP, CROWN STUFF.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
A kind of GLASS composed of good WHITE SAND, POTASH and LIME, with no LEAD as a flux, nor any metallic oxide except possibly manganese. It was made in circular sheets by blowing and whirling. It was often used in Great Britain for WINDOW GLASS as distinct from BROAD GLASS and SHEET GLASS; hence entries like '48 Sash Squares 1 broke all Crown Glass' [Inventories (1716)]. John Houghton in his list of glass houses found four around London and one in Kent where this type of GLASS was made [Houghton]. In 1780 a Midlands newspaper was advertising a 'Manufactury of German sheet and Crown Glass near Stourbridge' [Newspapers (1780)].
Although by 1900 crown SOAP was invariably a YELLOW SOAP containing ROSIN, this does not seem to have been the case in the early modern period. At that time it was clearly a SOFT SOAP measured by the BARREL or FIRKIN rather than in a CAKE, hence an advertisement for 'Crown, Cake, Castle, and Black Soap' [Tradecards (18c.)]. Early attempts to make soap in England resulted in a poor soap called BLACK SOAP, and it seems that the name crown soap was applied to a better quality as techniques improved, hence entries like 'Sope black & Crown' [Inventories (1696)].
A TEXTILE and, as its name indicates, a STUFF and it may have been so named because it was patterned with stylized crowns. Since it has only been found once in the Dictionary Archive, its existence under this name was probably of short duration, but like other fashionable fabrics, it may well have surfaced under a different label. It has not been noted in the dictionaries or by the authorities on textiles.
Given that madder was fermented before use, it may be that the crust madder is the material that formed on the top of the fermenting vat. It seems to have been valued at the same rate as common madder. In one of the two examples found in the Dictionary Archive it was valued at 30s the ½ HUNDRED, and in the other at 14s the QUARTER, whereas 'madder' was most commonly valued at 6d the LB.