Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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Primarily the handle of a PITCHER or drinking vessel, but formerly also of several sorts of cooking vessel. For example, in one house was recorded 'a brass pan w'th 2 Ears' valued at 3s 6d', so quite large, and 'a Small pan w'th a handle' at only 1s [Inventories (1716)]. Because they are normally attached to their vessels, ears in this sense are rarely mentioned, but there were problems in casting thick-walled metal pots with ears as the differential rates of cooling at different points resulted in flaws in the finished product. One solution was to use a technique called insertion, whereby pre-cast ears were set into the mould at the appropriate place before the molten metal was poured into the mould. Abraham Darby probably introduced the method into the casting of IRON POTs [Cox (1990), but it seems it may already have been known in the BRASS industry, as one London Armourer in 1697 had 'brass Eares' [Inventories (1697)], and a Brazier had ears two decades later [Inventories (1716)].
A ring or other small decorative object worn attached to the lobe of the ear as an ornament. Tradesmen who sold them also sometimes offered to pierce the ear to facilitate wearing the types that were not attached with a screw fitting [Tradecards (1794)]. Like other JEWELLERY, ear rings have only been noted occasionally for sale in the provinces.
In trade the name of several kinds of fine, compact, earthy, or oily CLAYs, usually of a yellow, red or brown colour due to the presence of iron oxide, hence RED EARTH and YELLOW EARTH. There were some specialist earths, like FULLERS EARTH, and others that were mainly used as the clay for making EARTHENWARE. However, many earths were ground finely to be used as PIGMENTs. In the English form, the term 'earth' was not used much in medicine, the only example noted being 'of Earth a Small quantity' among the stock of an Apothecary [Inventories (1671)]. Instead, the Latin 'TERRA' was used, hence the medicinal TERRA JAPONICA, TERRA LEMNIA, and TERRA SIGILLATA. One of John Houghton's aims in his survey was to create a 'full catalogue of all sorts of earths that may be procured, to anatomise and distinguish them into their classes, and to discover what is the proper product of each', something he never did [Houghton].
Found describing BASIN, BLACK CUP, BOTTLE, CASE, CHAMBER POT, CROCK, DISH, flat ware, FLOWER POT, FRUIT DISH, EWER, JAR, JUG, OVEN, PAN, PIPKIN, PITCHER, PLATE, PLATTER, PORRINGER, SALT CELLAR, TOY, VESSEL, WARMING PAN
In the plural, possibly a general term for EARTHENWARE and in general terms, a POT made of EARTHENWARE. However, the definition is not quite so simple as that. Most earthen pots were for cooking in, as in 'three earthen potts iijd' [Inventories (1598)]. Being crudely made, they were very cheap and often replaced. For example, Sarah Fell bought ten for 1s 6d [Diaries (Fell)]. Earthen pots only withstood the heat of the fire if well filled so that the flames only touched those parts of the vessel protected by the liquid inside. An alternative was to lower the earthen pot into a bigger metal cooking pot, itself filled with liquid. This was safer, but the same dangers applied. Earthen pots also easily absorbed flavours that were almost impossible to wash out [Fel and Hofer (1988)]. If used in the dairy, earthen pots were glazed as cleanliness was essential. Probably the 'earthen pottes mikepanes and all other things made of earthe in vallue iij li' in one house were of this sort [Inventories (1583)], like the '2 earthen potts for milke' bought by Sarah Fell [Diaries (Fell)].
Other earthen pots were decorative like two described as 'white earthen potts tiped with Silver' valued at 2s [Inventories (1662)], while apothecaries and similar retailers had to have large numbers of earthen pots for storing and selling their wares, hence 'all the earthen potts' belonging to one APOTHECARY [Inventories (1589)]. These were often replaced with VIALs or other GLASS WARE later in the period, particularly as the manufacture of GLASS was well established in England.
Found described as Covered, with COVER, without COVER, 'well glassed and great', LARGE, LITTLE, MILK, RED, SINGLE
Found in units of DOZEN Found rated by C of 100, C CAST of 3 PIECE, HUNDRED - CAST of a GALLON 'whether in one Pot or more'
[eathenware; eathen ware; earth'n ware; earthing ware; earthin ware; earthernware; earthen-ware; earthen weare; earthen ware; earthen waire; earthen and wooden ware; earthen and stone ware; earth ware]
The usual meaning of the term earthenware was a generic one applied to vessels or other objects made of baked CLAY, but it was also used adjectivally to describe objects so made, as in 'earthenware-pipes for conveyance of water' [Patents (1620)]. It is always difficult to be sure what was included under earthenware. Appraisers commonly made entries like 'Potts Cuppes and other earthen Ware' [Inventories (1635)], and 'Some Mugs & other Earthen ware' [Inventories (1748)], as if some types, particularly drinking vessels, were seen as distinct. Later in the period, it became common to distinguish new types of CERAMIC, hence entries like 'Glasses stoneware Eartheware of severall sorts' [Inventories (1675)], 'Earthen Ware White Ware & glasses' [Inventories (1687)], 'White Mettall & other Earthen Ware' [Inventories (1720)], and 'fine new and old China, Delf and Earthen Ware' INVLATE LY1741LEP003]. It is, however, uncertain whether these were newer types, always so distinguished from the coarse earthenware, which means that Probate documents remain a difficult source for assessing the development of the industry. By the second half of the eighteenth century, newspaper advertisements give some indication of what was available. Somebody who was giving up trade, offered 'A large Quantity of Earthen-Ware, ... consisting of an Assortment of Enamelled and Blue and White useful China, a large Quantity of enamelled Cream-Ware, and plain cream sortable Ware, a great Quantity of White Stone and Brown Ware [Newspapers (1780)]. Although PORCELAIN, as CHINA, was probably mostly seen as quite distinct, one patent was for the 'Manufacture of transparent earthenware, as porcelain, china, and Persian-ware' [Patents (1672)]. If not as decorative as china, much of the new pottery was intended for display as well as use, hence entries like 'some earthen ware over the Chimney', [Inventories (1697)], and 'A Corner Cupboard with Earthen ware upon it [Inventories (1720)]. Even so, it was not until the nineteenth century that ceramics commonly replaced PEWTER as items of display.
There had ever been an import trade in ceramics. In the sixteenth century, when the industry was in its infancy, most beyond the crudest sort was imported. Even at the end of the seventeenth century, John Houghton recorded a substantial trade out of GERMANY and HOLLAND, but also SPAIN and PORTUGAL. He commented with an idea that looked forward to later times; 'Now these are something valuable; and if we can make them here as cheap and as fine as they are made by our neighbours, I would think well then of a prohibition, but till then, I would rather wish for a pretty high duty (but not so much as shall make them worth running) and allow some to come for samples to us: but when any patent is granted for a new company, 'tis worth while to oblige them to reward him that shall appear yearly to be the best artist' [Houghton].
Found described as BROWN, COARSE, FINE, OLD, ORDINARY, PAINTED, RED and YELLOW, WHITE Found describing PIPE, POT, TEA POT, Trade Found to include BRICK, BRICK STONE, DISH, FLANDERS TILE, GALLEY DISH, GALLEY TILE, PANTILE, PAVING TILE , PLATE
Found imported in BASKET, CASE, CHEST, DOZEN, PIECE Found rated by value
The area accessible to the East India Company was what is nowadays generally called the Far East. It included China, the East Indies as such and the Indian sub-continent, though not all were accessible throughout the period, and to some, particularly China, access was limited. Japan, though it may well have been included in the definition, was barely accessible at all, or only indirectly. Charles II's queen, Catherine of Braganza, brought with her as dowry parts of India including Bombay. Trade with East India was virtually the monopoly of the EAST INDIA COMPANY, but much also came through the DUTCH ports, as the Dutch had control of most of the islands that were the source of SPICEs such as CLOVES.
Because goods from the East were so useful and/or desirable, attempts were made to imitate them in Britain; hence advertisements like the one for 'Shawls, from £1 1s to £2 12s 6d equal in Beauty and Durability to those imported from the East Indies' [Newspapers (1790)], and that for 'Pickles After the Manner of those prepared in the East Indies, viz. Mangoes, ...' [Tradecards (1800)]. Schemes, some successful, were also set afoot to grow East Indian crops in the WEST INDIES or America like GINGER, or to make East India products from raw materials obtained in the New World [Patents (1767)].
East India Company
In England, the trading company, in full the 'Company of Merchants of London trading to the East Indies' incorporated by royal charter in 1600. At first it did well, but the Company got into serious conflict with its Dutch rival who largely controlled the SPICE trade. A further problem was that the trade mainly involved the import of goods - largely luxuries - paid for by the export of bullion. This situation was unacceptable both to those who saw luxury as a moral offence, and to those who believed that economic health depended on the accumulation of 'treasure' rather than the reverse. To some extent the latter was alleviated by the re-export of goods, which did return treasure to the national coffers [Wilson (1965)]. Charles I, during the years of personal rule, licensed rivals to the Company, though Oliver Cromwell, despite prejudices against it, decided to retain it. At the Restoration, the position of individuals within the Company was strengthened by an Act of 1662 that granted liability only to the notional value of their holdings [Wilson (1965)]. Even so their position was precarious despite a capital of over £3,000,000, much of it invested not by merchants but by 'noblemen, gentlemen, shopkeepers, widows, orphans and all other subjects'. There was opposition to the idea of monopoly that the necessity of corporate activity to build trading stations and the like only partly assuaged. Furthermore, after 1698, there was briefly a rival, the 'New' East India Company, though the two were amalgamated in 1708 [Wilson (1965)]. By the 1770s the Company was again in financial difficulties due in part ot a long and expensive war against Hyder Ali in India, and a famine in Bengal. The Regulating Act of 1773 was intended to alleviate the financial situation by allowing the Company to export tea directly to the American colonies free of English duties and paying only a small colonial charge (a clause that helped to precipitate the American War of Independence). Other clauses in effect gave political power to the Company; the Governor of Bengal became the Govenor-General of India with a Council of four to assist him and a court of supreme jurisdiction was also set up. The first Governor-General, Warren Hastings, while securing British power in India, and adding to the wealth of the Company, incurred huge suspicion at home. He was eventually impeached in 1788 and acquitted after a long trial. In 1784 Pitt's India Act installed a dual system, with a Board of Control to regulate the political government of India, while the Company continued to exercise its commercial business. This system continued until 1858 [Edwards (1944)].
The Books of Rates give some idea of the range of goods imported by the Company, though by no means all came from India or the Far East. The long route home, across the Indian Ocean and round the toe of Africa, necessitated stops where cargoes could be exchanged and new goods picked up. Other records in the Dictionary Archive give some idea of the scale of investment [Inventories (1721)], of the value of goods imported [Inventories (1678)]; [Inventories (1721)], and of the risk involved [Inventories (1691)].
Found importing ALOES HEPATICA, ALOES SOCOTRINA, AMBER, AMBERGRIS, ANIME, ARANGO, ARGENT SUBLIME, ARRACK, ARTIFICIAL BALSAM, ASAFOETIDA, BDELLIUM, BENJAMIN, BORAX, CALICO, CAMPHOR, CANTHARIDES, CARDAMOM, CARMENIA WOOL, CARPET, CASSIA BUD, CASSIA FISTULA, CASSIA LIGNEA, CHINA ROOT, CHINA WARE, CINNABAR, CINNAMON, CLOVES, COCCULUS INDICUS, COLOQUINTIDA, COFFEE, COLUMBO, CORAL, Costus Amara, Costus Dulcis, COTTON YARN, COWRIE, CUBEB, DIAGREDIUM, DIMITY, DRUGS, ELEPHANTS TOOTH, FOLIUM INDIAE, GALANGA, GALBANUM, GAMBOGE, GARNET, GOLD - PLATE, GREEN GINGER, GUM AMMONIAC, GUM ARABIC, GUM ELEMI, GUM LAC, GUM SERAPINUM, HUSS SKIN, JAPANNED WARE, LAPIS CALAMINARIS, LAPIS CONTRAYERVA, LAPIS LAZULI, LAPIS TUTIAE, LACQUERED - WARE, LIGNUM ASPALTHUM, LONG PEPPER, MACE, MANNA, MOTHER OF PEARL, MUSK, MUSLIN, MYROBALAN, MYRRH, NATURAL BALSAM, NUTMEG, OLIBANUM, OPIUM, OPOPANAX, ORPIMENT, PEPPER, PICTURE, RADIX CONTRAYERVAE, RATTAN, RAW SILK, RED MASTIC, RHABARBUM, RICE, SAGO, SANGUIS DRACONIS, SALTPETRE, SARCOCOLLA, SEED LAC, SENNA, SHELLAC, SILVER PLATE, SNUFF, SPIKENARD, SQUILL, STORAX CALAMINT, SUCCADE, SUGAR, TACAMAHACA, TAMARIND, TEA, TURBITH, TURMERIC, WALKING CANE, WAX, WHITE LEAD, WHITE MASTIC, WORMSEED, YELLOW SANDERS, ZEDOARY
East India goods
Goods imported from India, China and the Far East, almost exclusively by the EAST INDIA COMPANY after its formation. This Company had special Customs concessions, and a list of goods so rated can be found in the Books of Rates, and can be seen under EAST INDIA COMPANY. The term was clearly understood during the early-modern period, but may not have meant precisely the same to each individual who used it. However, any list would probably have included CALICO, CHINA, COTTON WOOL, MUSLIN, SILK WARE, SPICE and TEA.
In the early-modern period, this term was usually applied to a high-backed, winged CHAIR first introduced in the late-seventeenth century. This was upholstered, but with some of the frame clearly showing [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)], hence entries like 'Mahogony Easy Chair Crimson Damask loose check Cover' valued at over 30s [Inventories (1783)].