Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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Daffy's Elixir was one among many self-help remedies sold commercially during the eighteenth century that have been dubbed QUACK MEDICINEs owing to their dubious chemical qualities and doubtful curative powers. Others include GODFREYS CORDIAL, DR JAMES POWDER and Dr. Armstrongs Pills [Fissell (1991)]. Daffys was commonly sold at about 12d a bottle; cheaper than many of its competitors, but by no means the cheapest on the market. It can be noted in the shops of quite ordinary shopkeepers, for example [Inventories (1735)], packaged variously in PINT, half pint and quarter pint bottles. Serving the top end of the market, the prestigious London Chemist, Thomas Townshend, also stocked it [Tradecards (1740s)].
The entry in the OED online states that Daffy's was first produced, by a seventeenth-century English clergyman, Thomas Daffy, although the accompanying quotation (1680) gives the forename correctly as Anthony. After his death in c1686, his widow continued to market the Elixir, though an announcement to that effect in the London Gazette [No 2150. 24-28 June 1686, verso.] did not make it clear whether she also continued production. [We thank Dr. David Harrison for drawing this reference to our attention.]
Daffy's Elixir was initially proclaimed to be a cure for toothache and for teething babies; a later quotation (1857) in the OED confirms that it was indeed used for that purpose. A chemical analysis carried out in the 1940s of the contents of an unopened bottle that had been excavated, found it consisted of ALCOHOL, with SENNA as a chief ingredient [Richmond & Webster (1950)]. This suggests it was intended as a laxative. The Latin definition 'Tinctura sennae composita' (in English TINCTURE of senna) given in Dunglison's Medical Lexicon, published in 1842, confirms the accuracy of the analysis [Dunglison (1842)].
However, as was commonly the case with quack medicines, Daffys was usually marketed as a universal panacea, since the promoters preferred not to reduce their potential markets by associating the product with any particular illness. Exceptionally, one advertisement was accompanied by testimonials to its effectiveness as a cure for stone and gravel [Newspapers (1790)]. The more typical wording is found in an advertisement placed in the Manchester Mercury in 1757 in which Daffy's is described as the 'Original Elixir', 'so much approved of in Town and Country, which has perform'd such number of great cures, when all other Medicines have failed, recommended by several eminent Physicians ...' [Newspapers (1757)].
Generally, it seems that Daffy's was too well known for readers to need more than information on stockists and assurances of it being genuine and not counterfeit, though fraud was widespread. The newspaper advertisement quoted above also contains a characteristic attack on other 'quacks' seeking to counterfeit this exceptional product, '... the Above Coat of Arms, Elixir and Cures done by it have been counterfeited by J. Eyres of Warrington, Freeman of the Borough, Martin of Leicester, Whitworth of Manchester; Russel in Queen Street, London, and these ignorant Quacks who know nothing of the preparation ...' [Newspapers (1757)]. However, such marketing techniques were equally used and abused to elevate the credibility of the product and the promoter in the public's mind (Porter and Porter (1989), 189, 191), and so should be treated with caution.
Many recipes survive to make Daffy's elixir. One from the first half of the eighteenth century for 'True Daffy' is more in line with the usual style of preparations at that time with a long list of ingredients, many of which were purgatives: ANISEED, FENNEL SEED, PARSLEY SEED, SPANISH LIQUORICE, SENNA, RHUBARB, ELECAMPANE, JALAP, SAFFRON, MANNA, RAISIN, COCHINEAL, and BRANDY [Recipes (Smith)].
One of the most common and cheapest forms of alcohol used was GIN; hence from 1800, if not earlier, Daffys became a slang name for gin. Many of the nineteenth century quotations in the OED appear to refer to Daffys with this meaning in mind, gin was commonly used to soothe babies when teething or generally fretful, though some references do seem be for the original preparation. If this were diluted with gin to give to fretful babies, it would have had much the same effect as the neat.
Found made from ANISEED, BRANDY, COCHINEAL, ELECAMPANE, FENNEL SEED, JALAP, MANNA, PARSLEY SEED, RAISIN, RHUBARB, SAFFRON, SENNA, SPANISH LIQUORICE Found described as CORDIAL, Original, Salutis
Found in units of BOTTLE, HALF PINT, PINT, QUART
A term that originally meant either the ancient Syrian city of Damascus, but it was soon used adjectivally to define its products. The OED notes the first occurrence of this meaning for 1250, but it was still found in the early-modern period though possible not in the Dictionary Archive, with the one exception of PLAYING TABLEs described in the 1582 Book of Rates as of Damask making. However, damask also came to describe a process of imposing wavy designs on appropriate surfaces like leather and metal in imitation of the patterns produced in the production of Damask STEEL. The patents both show the concerns of home manufacturers and helpfully describe what damasking meant. For example [Patents (1684)] described the process of 'watering, damasking and flowering' fabrics by impressing or indenting lines on them.
Damask was more often used as the name of two quite distinct TEXTILEs. The first was true damask. This was a rich SILK fabric woven with elaborate designs and figures, often in a variety of colours on a TAFFETA ground, first noted by the OED in c1530. The list of Rates issued in 1657 shows how expensive these silk fabrics must have been since those from GENOA and FLORENCE attracted a duty of 12s per yard, from LUCCA 9s, and from CHINA 4s. It is hardly surprising that silk damasks of this type are hardly found in provincial shops. The term was also applied, though only latish in the period, to FIGURED materials of mixed content consisting of various combinations of SILK, WOOL, COTTON and LINEN, used for FURNISHING, CURTAINs, etc. WORSTED damask was frequently advertised on trade cards. Damasks were fashionable fabrics; for example, for the period of mourning for George II in 1760, it was declared an appropriate fabric for ladies' 'undress'.
The second form of damask was a twilled LINEN fabric richly figured in the weaving with designs that show up by opposite reflections of light from the surface; used chiefly for TABLE LINEN such as TABLE CLOTHs and NAPKINs. This meaning of the term seems to have developed more or less contemporaneously with true damask, since the earliest use if it noted by the OED is 1542. Damask tabling was sometimes woven to give seamless table cloths of 3 ELL or more in width.
Usually the various types of damask textiles are easily distinguished by context; for example, a linen damask is often found associated with DIAPER, whereas true damasks were positioned among the silks.
Found described as BLACK, BLUE, branst, CAFFA, COARSE, COLOURED, COUNTERFEIT, CRIMSON, DOUBLE, FLOWERED, GREEN, HOLLAND, IN GRAIN, of IRELAND, MOCK, NORWICH, PINK, PURPLE, RED, STRIPED, RUSSEL, SCARLET, of SILESIA, SILK, STRIPED, STUFF, TAWNY, WHITE, WORSTED Found describing RUSSEL, SARSNET, SATIN, SILK, STUFF, VELVET Found used to make BED, BREAKFAST CLOTH, CAP, CHAIR cover and seats, CLOUT, CUPBOARD CLOTH, CURTAIN, DRESSER CLOTH, facing for a GOWN, FURNITURE, GOWN, HANGINGS, JACKET, LINEN, LINING for a BED, MANTLE, MANTUA, NAPKIN, NIGHT CAP, PANNEL, PETTICOAT, doll's PETTICOAT, SEAT, SHEET, SHOE, SIDE BOARD CLOTH, SLEEVE, SUIT, SULTANE, TABLE CLOTH, TABLE LINEN, TABLING, TOWEL, TOWELLING, WAISTCOAT, WINDOW CURTAIN Found included among ITALIAN - SILK, WROUGHT SILK
Found for sale in the shops by PIECE, YARD
Damask of Genoa
The OED suggests that it was a toilet powder scented with the petals of the DAMASK ROSE. Although this may have been the case, by the eighteenth century at least it was specifically a scented HAIR POWDER, for example [Tradecards (18c.)]. Unlike other scented hair powders, for example JESSAMY POWDER and ORANGE FLOWER POWDER, it does not seem to have been associated in retailers' promotional literature with a similarly scented POMATUM.
The name given to a group of very old varieties of ROSEs that supposedly orginated in Damascus. Although now labelled Rosa damascena, this is probably a hybrid from a species now lost. It is closely related to Rosa gallica. The flowers are double, and can therefore only be propagated vegitatively. In the early modern period, there were many varieties, all are highly scented; a very ancient one, now called Rosa damascena trigintipetal, or Kazanlik, originated in Bulgaria and was one of the cultivars used in the manufacture of Attar or OTTO OF ROSES [Beales (1997)].
Damask rose water
A ROSE WATER made specifically from the DAMASK ROSE. It has been noted among the stock of an APOTHECARY [Inventories (1625)], but according to Nicholas Culpeper, it was less satisfactory in medicine than a water made from the RED ROSE [Culpeper (1792)]. Damask rose water was an ingredient in several classic recipes, including at least one in the official Pharmacopoeia [Recipes (Pemberton)]. However the rose was highly scented, and a water was also distilled from its petals for the purposes of TOILETRY. An eighteenth century recipe 'To preserve the face, from being deform'd by the smallpox' included it [Recipes (Lowers)], supporting the idea that it was esteemed to improve the complexion as much as to be taken internally.
The term refers to the veining on the BLADEs of SWORDs, other similar weapons and metal ware, like BUTTONs, traditionally made at Damascus; and further to incised ornamentation inlaid with GOLD or SILVER.
An alternative name for MITHRIDATE [Pemberton (1746)]. Possibly 'Damocrates' was an alternative spelling of Democritus, a philospher living in the fifth century B.C., who was known as the 'laughing philosopher'.
A small, fine-toothed COMB for drawing through the hair and thus removing dandruff and presumably nits [Cox (1966, pb 1969)]. It was probably most often a BOX COMB or an IVORY COMB, since the materials from which these were made were most easily worked to produce fine teeth.
From the context of the only two (adjacent) entries noted, this was a type of WOOL [Inventories (1613)]. The term may be an abbreviated form of Danish wool, but this seems unlikely, as wool was not a major export of Denmark. More probable it was POLONIA WOOL, that is wool from POLAND, exported through DANTZIG.
The OED suggests that this term means Danish or from Denmark. Although it clearly did mean this under some circumstances, there seems also to have been some confusion with DANTZIG, at least in trade. In fact the Polish name for Dantzig is Gdansk. No commodities were rated as 'Danish' or from 'Denmark', and Houghton mentions no imports from thence. On the other hand, leather was given both descriptors 'Dansk' and 'Dantzig', and the other commodities for which Dansk was a descriptor, are also found with Dantzig as well, suggesting that the two were more or less interchangeable.
An article of FURNITURE, possibly from Denmark for which 'Dansk' was sometimes used, but more probably exported through DANTZIG. Gloag suggests the name was interchangeable with 'Dantzig chest' and cites several examples [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)]. This variant is not found in the Dictionary Archive. Another alternative name was SPRUCE CHEST, which suggests either they came from the hinterland of Dantzig, then Poland and Prussia otherwise known as SPRUCE, or that they were made of the wood from the Spruce fir. Both possibilites are likely and would have equally applied. The turn of phrase in the Books of Rates is interesting for, typically, dansk chests were entered as 'Chests of spruce or dansk the nest contayning three' [Rates (1582)]. This suggests they came in a NEST of three, but whether this always applied is not clear. The name, but not necessarily the object, died out in the second half of the seventeenth century.
Almost certainly an alternative name for GERMANY LINEN. The context of the only entry suggets that it was a LINEN CLOTH, probably exported through DANTZIG for which the variant DANSK was sometimes used. Houghton, giving the quantities imported in the late seventeenth century, shows that most Germany linen by far came through that port [Houghton].
According to Rolt, Dantzig (Gdansk in Polish), was 'the capital of regal Prussia in the Kingdom of Poland', situated on the banks of the river Vistula shortly before it flows into the Baltic sea. The two tributaries that run into the river in the town had been dredged, allowing quite big boats come up the four miles to the city wharves. The port had the 'best foreign trade of any port within the Baltic' [Rolt (1761)], and rivalled HAMBURG in importance. The closeness of the German Gdansk and the German Dantzig explains why Dantzig and DANSK were used almost interchangeably in the early modern period. It was an important port and through it came a host of commodities from its hinterland of POLAND (also sometimes called POLONIA), SPRUCE (now known as Prussia), MUSCOVY and RUSSIA, as well as the EAST COUNTRY or EASTLAND.
Dantzig was associated with a variety of products that were either produced in the district, or were exported thence. One, not found in the Dictionary Archive, is Dantzig BEER, otherwise known as BLACK beer, which Ogilvie described as 'a kind of beer manufactured at Dantzic. It is of black colour, and of a syrupy consistence, and is much prized' [Ogilvie (1865)]. Another, also not found in the Dictionary Archive, was the Dantzig CUCUMBER. According to Parkinson this plant 'beareth but small fruit, growing on short branches or runners: the pickled Cowcumbers that are vsually sold are of this kind' [Parkinson (1629), quoted in the OED online, Dantzig]. Apart from these, Dantzig was frequently used as a descriptor with all sorts of TIMBER, as in Dantzig DEAL, Dantzig FIR, Dantzig OAK. It was also used to describe BEES WAX as in 'Caskes of Danzick bees wax weighing 56C 3q & 18l at 6l 15s per C' [Inventories (1678)], and EARTHENWARE as in 'danske pots, Sawcrs &c 23 li at 12d' [Inventories (1619)].
Not all the trade was one way; even in those products that one might think would have been available there anyway. For example, according to Saussaure RABBIT SKINs were exported to Dantzig to be sent on to POLAND to be used as FUR [Diaries (Saussure)].
Found describing BEES WAX, BLUE COPPERAS.POT, SAWCER
Found imported from Dantzig BALK, BARREL STAVE, CANVAS, CLAPBOARD, CORDAGE, DAMASK, DEAL, DIAPER, FIRKIN STAVE, GERMANY LINEN, HEMP, HEMPEN ROLL, HESSIAN, HINTERLAND, HOGSHEAD STAVE, HONEY, LINEN CLOTH, MUSCOVIA LINEN [use MUSCOVY LINEN], MUSCOVIA YARN, OAKEN BOARD, OAR, PIPE BOARD, PIPE STAVE, POLDAVY, POLONIA LINEN, PLANK, POTASH, RHENISH WINE, SAIL CLOTH, SPRUCE YARN, STURGEON, TIMBER, WAINSCOT
See also DANSK CHEST, DANSK CLOTH, DANSK SKIN, DANTZIG CASE, DANTZIG FLAX, DANTZIG IRON, DANTZIG LEATHER, DANTZIG LINEN, DANZIG VITRIOL, DANTZIG YARN.
Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Ogilvie (1865), Rolt (1761).
The only two examples in the Dictionary Archive combined suggest a CASE made of LEATHER designed to fit a BOTTLE intended for BRANDY. The first example, 'Two dansicke Cases w'th Bottells' was listed among the stock of a London 'leather seller' along with other specialist cases [Inventories (1693)]. The second is found among the stock of a London 'distiller' where '40 Dansick Cases Brandy 6 Gallons the pipe and Cock' [Inventories (1691)], were listed among other examples of STRONG WATERS and their containers. This would suggest the cases were relatively small, each containing less than a PINT. Why such cases were given the descriptor DANTZIG is not clear, since the leather seller may well have been making his own cases, and the distiller may have made his own BRANDY, which may in turn correspond to the 'best double strong Dantzig waters' cited in a quotation of 1720 in the OED.
During the sixteenth century FLAX was imported to this country from DANTZIG, often as a back cargo for the merchants exporting BRITISH - LEAD through Hull into the Baltic [Thirsk (1978)]. The flax may well not have been grown close to Dantzig, but brought there from far inland. However, the term 'Dantzig flax' seems to have come to mean a flax with particular characteristics that distinguished it from flaxes grown in other regions exporting through Baltic ports, such as PETERBOROUGH FLAX and LETTOW FLAX. What those distinctive characteristics may have been is now obscure. Dantzig flax could be grown in this country since, during the eighteenth century, its seed was available in the shops among other seeds intended 'to improve the ground' [Tradecards (n.d.)]. This suggests that when produced in this country, its fibres may not have been of a high standard and were not the intended purpose of the crop.
Before the second quarter of the seventeenth century, Dantzig IRON would probably have been SWEDISH IRON exported to and hammered into BAR IRON at DANZIG. However, due to reorganization of the Sedish iron industry, its iron thereafter was exported directly, and Danzig lost an important trade. It is possible that the one example noted in the Dictionary Archive and dated 1747 [Inventories (1747)] was in fact RUSSIAN IRON, that came to this country through Dantzig.
The north GERMAN plain was one of the major areas for the production of linen TEXTILEs. DANTZIG linen was probably no more specific than GERMAN LINEN and the term could have been applied to any one of the linen produced in SPRUCE and exported though Dantzig.
DANTZIG - VITRIOL was a form of GREEN VITRIOL. Both are early-modern names for ferrous sulphate. Partington shows that ferrous sulphate can be made in various ways and with various additions [Partington (1953)], and it was presumably these that made each one distinctive. According to Pemberton, Dantzig vitriol was preferred by refiners making AQUA FORTIS, while for medicinal purposes Pemberton recommended what he called green vitriol [Recipes (Pemberton)]. Probably the so-called Dantzig vitriol was of an inferior quality. According to Rees, the foreign vitriol, since it contained small quantities of COPPER, was more useful to dyers and artists than the green type that was produced in England [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)].
Almost certainly a LINEN YARN made on the north GERMAN plain, and exported through DANTZIG. FLAX was also imported from thence as was much LINEN CLOTH, hence DANTZIG FLAX and DANTZIG LINEN. Dantzig yarn may well have been synoymous with SPRUCE YARN, in which case it would have have been in the form of a BROWN or RAW LINEN YARN.
The FRUIT of the date-palm, Phoenix dactylifera, an oblong drupe, growing in large clusters, with a single hard seed or stone and sweet pulp. It is a native of North Africa, although it will grow in southern Europe where the fruits do not always ripen fully. The dates are harvested before they are quite ripe, then cured in the sun before packing, unless 'squashed dates' are required, in which case the fruit is left on the tree until thoroughly ripe [Simmonds (1906)]. It is not known which process was used in the early modern period, or whether both were available as now. The crop usually reaches this country in late autumn. An important article of food in Western Asia and North Africa, which was DRIED and widely exported, it was also originally used to make ARRACK and SURFEIT WATER. Contemporary medical commentators such as John Gerard suggested that dates had medicinal qualities, for example, in the treatment of morning sickness cited by [Hess (1981)].
This is a popular name applied to the common or Japanese persimmon, Diospyrus kaki, which grows in southern France. The fruit is similar in size and appearance to a tomato [Masefield et al (1969)], although it is unlikely that this is what was listed among the apothecarial stock of a Cheshire retailer [Inventories (1524)]. Presumably his date plums were the same as 'The whight Date' illustrated in a roughly contemporary manuscript, usually assigned to John Tradescant. The illustration [Source: Roll 444.2 frame 9] shows a large, elongated pear-shaped plum of pale green colour ripening in late August [Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 1461]. There is a recipe for preserving date plums in the anonymous 'True Way of Preserving and Candying' published in 1695 [Anon (1695, facs. 1994)].
Probably a shortened version of the name 'Benjamin Dawson's Pectoral And Balsamic Lozenges', possibly made by an imitator of the original. Dawsons LOZENGEs have been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive, among a list of lozenges that were apparently intended mainly as a form of CONFECTIONERY [Tradecards (1800)].