Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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The use of the term to denote elasticity of solids is late and it is only found by the OED towards the end of the seventeenth century. In popular language, 'elastic' is applied to anything that can be stretched without permanent alteration of size or shape. It is applied to fabrics, or articles made of them, containing threads or thin strips of rubber usually covered by a woven material. Apart from 'elastic GUM', noted by the OED in 1781, this meaning did not appear again until the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Simmonds 'Dictionary of Trade' dated 1858 had 'Elastic-bands, belts, braces, gaiters, &c., made with threads of caoutchouc, either naked or covered' [OED online, Elastic].
In the Dictionary Archive articles described as 'elastic' start to appear at the very end of the eighteenth century, though the way the term is used suggests that the meaning was not fully established, as in 'New Invented ELASTIC Blacking Balls' [Tradecards (1792)], and 'Woollen Velvet Cloth _ very elastic and pleasant to the Wearer' [Tradecards (1801)]. Only in the advertisement for 'Elastic, Kerseymere & other Garters' [Tradecards (1790s)], is the modern meaning as defined by Simmonds probable.
'Elastic' was apparently also used to cover the process of waterproofing, probably because the materials applied as a surface were themselves elastic. This extension of meaning appears in a patent for 'Making ladies' elastic habits and gentlemen's coats, without seams' [Patents (1794)]. This extension of meaning also makes sense of an advertisement for a run away apprentice who 'had on a dark coloured Coat, and took with him a light elastic Coat' [Newspapers (1790)].
OED online earliest date of use: 1674
Found describing BANDAGE, BLACKING BALL, BUCKLE, COAT, GARTER, GIRDLE, GUM, HABIT, HYGEIAN BED, PERIWIG, RAZOR, SADDLE, SPONGE, SPUR, STOCKING, STROP, TOUPEE, TRUSS
Sources: Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.
A SILK fabric from Turkestan, apparently so woven as to present the appearance of CARDAMOMs. The Turkish word whence it is derived suggests it was corded. In the 'Complete Ware-house laid open', it was described as 'An Indian Silk strip'd with variety of colours, and often with very modest colours, it is usually for Gowns, and contains just the quantity for a Womans Mantua, and wears very well' [Anon (1696)]. In a list of goods imported in the 1680s, John Houghton included both 'Elatches' and 'Elatches strip'd with Gold' [Houghton].
Florence Montgomery may have been discussing the same TEXTILE under 'Alacha' also called ALLEJA [Montgomery (1984)]. This similar term was applied to a wide range of COTTON/SILK mixtures from the Indian sub-continent. Whatever the precise name, these fabrics were considered a threat to the English textile industries and their importation was therefore banned except for export [Rates (1784)].
OED earliest date of use: 1696, but earlier as 'alleja'
Found described as STRIPED with GOLD
Found imported by the PARCEL
See also ALLEJA.
Sources: Acts, Houghton.
References: Anon (1696), Montgomery (1984).
A GERMAN LINEN from the area of the River Elbe in Germany. The two entries in the Books of Rates, respectively for 1643 and 1657, are ambiguous, but they suggest Elbing may have been a synonym for, or very like, DANSK CLOTH [Rates (1643)] or QUEENSBOROUGH - CANVAS [Rates (1657)].
OED earliest date of use: 1662 under Ploy
Found describing CANVAS Found described as DOUBLE - PLOY, SPRUCE
Found in unit of the BOLT of 28 ELL, ELL
Sources: Acts, Rates.
A native low tree or shrub, Sambucus nigra, bearing umbel-like corymbs of flowers, followed by small currant-like black fruits called Elder berries. The bark, the flowers, and the berries were all valued either in medicine or in cooking, and the leaves were some of the many substances that were dried, dyed and added illegally to TEA [Acts (1777)]. The flowers have a distinctive, fragrant odour and mild cleansing properties. The flowers were incorporated into WASH BALLs [Recipes (Buchoz)], made into ELDER FLOWER WATER and ELDER VINEGAR.
OED earliest date of use: a700 for Elder; 1589 for Elder berries
Sources: Acts, Recipes, Tradecards.
Elder flower water
[elder flower ditto]
ELDER flowers are sweetly scented and a SCENTED WATER was distilled from them. Culpeper considered this water to have among other virtues to be of 'much use to clear the skin from sun-burning, freckles, morphew and the like', but also for bathing the forehead to relieve headache [Culpeper (1792)]. A quotation in the OED from Plot dated 1679 indicates that it was also used as an EYE WATER.
Not found in the OED online
See also ELDER FLOWER VINEGAR.
References: Culpeper (1792).
[elder and distilled vinegar]
A true VINEGAR, in other words one made from WINE not MALT, that has dried ELDER flowers steeped in it and left to mature in the sun or by the fire according to one cookery writer [Bradley (1736, facs. 1980)], while another suggests the use of 'strong ale' ALEGAR [Farley (1792)]. It was an old remedy for a sore throat. By John Evelyn it was referred to as one of the flavoured vinegars suitable for use with a salad [Evelyn (1699, new ed. 1996)], but it may also have been used in the same way as RASPBERRY VINEGAR.
Not found in the OED online
Found described as FRENCH
Found in units of BOTTLE, CASE
See also ROSE VINEGAR.
References: Bradley (1736, facs. 1980), Evelyn (1699 modern ed. 1996), Farley (1792).
[enulae campanae; ellicampane; elicumpane; elicampane; anicampann; allecompaine; allecomp'; alicampaigne]
A perennial composite plant, Inula helenium, also called in English 'horse-heal' and 'scabwort'. It has very large yellow composite flowers and bitter aromatic leaves and roots. It was formerly used as a diuretic and expectorant as well as a tonic and stimulant. In the last century (and no doubt formerly) it was used in pulmonary disorders [Wren (1941)]. Its two popular names suggest it was valued for skin problems and in veterinary practice. The roots seem to have been the part most used in the early-modern period being noted as an ingredient in PLAGUE WATER [Recipes (Smith)], SNAIL WATER [Recipes (Culpeper)], and LONDON TREACLE [Recipes (Culpeper)]. They have also been noted as CANDIED [Inventories (1665)], in SYRUP [Inventories (1625)], and as a POWDER [Inventories (1695)].
OED earliest date of use: 1398
Found in units of DRACHM, LB, OZ Found among the DRUGS (as 'Radix Enulae Campanae') rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Recipes.
References: Wren (1941).
Possibly derived from a Greek term for 'to lick', it was a medicinal compound in which the ingredients were bound with HONEY or some equivalent SYRUP, or with WINE [Recipes (Culpeper)]. Various active ingredients have been noted; CHESTNUT flowers, 'an approved remedy against the spitting of blood, and the cough' [Houghton], NUTMEG 'chiefly used in cordial electuaries' [Houghton], and JUNIPER, 'often made for the poor against the stone, rheum, pthisic, dropsy, jaundice, inward imposthumes, nay palsy, gout, and plague itself, taken like Venice-treacle' [Houghton]. But any medicament could have been made palatable in this form, and the mid-eighteenth century Pharmacopoeia had them based on BAY BERRIES, SCAMMONY, and SCORDIUM among others, not to mention the various medicinal TREACLEs, including VENICE TREACLE and MITHRIDATE [Pemberton (1746)].
The label was used by the manufactures for what were virtually branded products like 'Desault's Balsamic Strengthening Electuary' [Newspapers (1743)], and 'Swinfen's Electuary; a certain Cure for the Stone and Gravel' [Newspapers (1780)]. 'The Grand Restorative Balsamick Electuary, which cures a virulent Gonorrhea, or Clap, Gleets or Seminal Weaknesses' is only one of several that claimed to cure venereal infections [Newspapers (1751)]. The inclusion of 'Balsamic' in the title may have been intended to indicate a treatment not based on MERCURY, the common and effective - but toxic - medicament for these conditions.
OED earliest date of use: 1398
Found described as Anti venereal, Cathartic CORDIAL, Purging
Found in units of LB, POT
See also ELECTUARY DE SUCCO ROSARUM, MITHRIDATE, TREACLE.
Sources: Houghton, Inventories (early), Newspapers, Patents, Recipes.
References: Pemberton (1746).
Electuary de succo rosarum
[ellect de succo rosae; elec' de succorosaru']
A medical preparation, partly expressed in Latin, meaning literally ELECTUARY of the juices of ROSEs. It was probably similar to the later 'Electarium e Casia', in which the main ingredients were SYRUP OF ROSES and CASSIA, and which was used as a PURGE [Pemberton (1746)].
Found in units of LB
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Pemberton (1746).
The OED suggests the term is derived through the French from Latin terms meaning 'to select'. The etymological sense is 'choosing carefully or skilfully.' In Latin 'elegant' came to have two shades of meaning; in the one it was a term of reproach, 'dainty, fastidious, foppish', but in the other it expressed notions of refined luxury or graceful propriety. Both these meanings are reproduced in English use.
As one might expect, the term has not been noted at all in the Dictionary Archive in a factual sense, so it is not found in sources like the probate inventories, statutes, or Books of Rates. By contrast, it was used to denote or create an ambience of refinement, propriety and luxury, particularly in the newspaper advertisements, where a wide range in the nuances of meaning may be found. One popular association of terms was elegant and assortment, as in 'a very elegant Assortment of Rich, Fancy and Plain Silks' [Newspapers (1760)], or 'A large and elegant Assortment of Turkey Carpets of the best quality' [Newspapers (1787)]. It was added to abstract nouns like taste, fashion and manner, as in 'the genteelest Patterns fancied in the most elegant Taste' [Newspapers (1770)], 'Elegant Spring Fashions' [Newspapers (1780)], and 'a House and Shop, the latter very commodious, and fitted up in elegant convenient manner' [Newspapers (1790)]. It is found sometimes with unexpected extensions of meaning, as in an advertisement offering to teach methods of drawing, which were called 'the most elegant and Useful Branches of that Science' [Newspapers (1760)], and even in a comment to an official recipe for BARLEY WATER, warning that failure to follow the instructions 'would render the decoction less elegant and grateful' [Recipes (Pemberton)].
OED online earliest date of use: c1485
Found describing assortment, BEAKER, BRAID, CALICO, CARD TABLE, CLOCK CASE, COLOUR, COMMODE, COPPER PLATE, DISH, EPERGNE, FURNITURE, GLASS, INK STAND, JAR, PATTERN, POST CHAISE, SHOP, SILK, STOVE GRATE, TEA SERVICE, WAISTCOAT, WARDROBE
Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Newspapers, Recipes, Tradecards.
In this form the term is found only once in the Dictionary Archive as 'One dozin Oliphant hefts' valued in all at 10s [Inventories (1665)]. It refers to the HAFT or handle for a KNIFE or a similar implement made of ELEPHANTS TOOTH or IVORY, and the commodity is more commonly found as ivory hafts.
Not found in the OED
Found in units of DOZEN
Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
The term was sometimes abbreviated to 'Elephant'and was alternatively known as Grand Eagle. It referred to a size of WRITING PAPER, DRAWING PAPER or printing PAPER. The COMMON or ORDINARY size was fixed by statute in 1784 to 23 INCH by 28 INCH, with DOUBLE at 26½ INCH by 40 [Acts (1784)]. Probably the act did no more than lay down what was already standard practice.
OED earliest date of use: 1702
Found described as BLUE, COMMON, DOUBLE, ORDINARY
Found rated by REAM
Sources: Acts, Rates, Tradecards.
[teeth elephant; oliphants teeth; eloph'ts teeth]
An elephant's tusk or IVORY. These tusks are not always easy to identify, partly as there was considerable variation in spelling, as in 'Oliphants teeth the c pound contayning v.xx xii li' [Rates (1582)], but also because the term was often abbreviated to TEETH as in '32 li of teeth at 01 10 08' [Inventories (1667)]. It was also sometimes given in different forms, as in 'A parcell of Ivory teeth wt. 3 C 3 qrs 16 li' [Tradecards (1719)].
Part of the 'tooth' was hollow, hence 'Ivory hollows', but the end was solid, hence 'Two thousand & two hundred tipps' [Tradecards (1719)]. The term, 'elephant', was normally only used for the raw product 'elephants tooth, and not for goods made from them. One exception in the Dictionary Archive is ELEPHANT HAFT.
OED online earliest date of use: 1398 under Elephant
Found in units of LB Found rated by HUNDRED or five SCORE, HUNDRED of 112 LB, HUNDREDWEIGHT
See also SEA HORSE TEETH, SEA MORSE.
Sources: Houghton, Rates.
A TEXTILE in the form of a LINEN CLOTH. It was included among LINEN in a list given by John Houghton of goods 'Exported by Certificate' in 1682-3 [Houghton]. All but one of the other linens in the list were from northern Europe and were measured by the ELL. Why elinda cloth was measured differently is not clear. The term has not been found in the dictionaries or in any of the authorities on textiles.
Not found in the OED
Found exported by the PARCEL
[ellixir; elizir; eliz; elixer; elix]
The earliest meaning, in Alchemy, was for any substance capable of transmuting base metals into GOLD, hence its association with the PHILOSOPHERS STONE. It was also applied by the alchemists to anything that was believed to prolong life, hence the fervently sought 'Elixir of Life'. On a more mundane level, it was used in medicine for a sovereign remedy for disease, and became a favourite name for QUACK MEDICINE. Several examples of this use may be found in the Dictionary Archive including 'Fraunces's Female Strengthening Elixir' [Patents (1751)]; [Newspapers (1752)], 'Radcliffe's famous Purging Elixir' [Newspapers (1752)], and 'The Original Jesuit Drops or Elixir of Life' [Newspapers (1761)]. Probably the two most widely available were DAFFYS ELIXIR and STOUGHTONS ELIXIR. Apart from these proprietary medicines, apothecaries made up their own elixirs to suit particular needs or even particular patients. These were often described as PROPRIETATIS as in 'Elixir p'prietatis 14 ounces' [Inventories (1686)], and 'Six Bottles of Elixer Proprietatis' [Inventories (1735)]. Others were described by use; for example, one retailer billed a client for '6 Bottles Elixir p' the Asthma', as well as '6 Bottles Elixir p' Gout & Rheumatism'. The cost for either version was 1s a BOTTLE [Tradecards (1740s)].
'Elixir' was used less commonly in orthodox medicine, but there were five recipes in the mid-eighteenth century Pharmacopoeia, including ELIXIR OF VITRIOL [Pemberton (1746)].
OED earliest date of use: 1631
Found described as CORDIAL, Pectoral, PROPRIETATIS, Spa Found designed to treat Asthma, Gout, heumatism
Found in units of BOTTLE, LB, OZ, VIAL
See also DAFFYS ELIXIR, ELIXIR OF VITRIOL, STOUGHTONS ELIXIR.
Sources: Diaries, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.
References: Pemberton (1746).
Elixir of vitriol
The mid-eighteenth century Pharmacopoeia included a recipe to make 'Elixir vitrioli acidum' or in English 'Acid ELIXIR of VITRIOL' using the official aromatic TINCTURE with the addition of a small quantity of OIL OF VITRIOL. As an alternative for those whose stomachs 'cannot bear the acidity of the preceding', the Pharmacopoeia suggested the dulcified elixir made with SPIRIT OF VITRIOL [Pemberton (1746)].
OED earliest date of use: 1783
Found in units of OUNCE
Sources: Diaries, Inventories (late), Tradecards.
References: Pemberton (1746).
[elke-skin; elke skin]
The SKIN of the large north American and European species of DEER, Alces malchis. Imported RAW or UNDRESSED, the skins were apparently dressed in OIL in this country, as were many other mostly lighter skins [Acts (1800)].
OED earliest date of use: 1759 under Elk
Found described DRESSED in OIL, RAW, UNDRESSED Found imported and rated by the PIECE, SKIN
See also ELK HAIR, UNGULA ALCIS.
Sources: Acts, Houghton, Rates.
[elk's; elkes hair]
The HAIR of the large north European and American species of deer Alces malchis, of which the hoof and SKIN were also traded. For some reason, now obscure, the HAIR was deemed particularly suitable for making a SADDLE, hence 'Elks hair for saddles', rated by the POUND [Rates (1657)], and later by the HUNDREDWEIGHT of 112 LB [Rates (1660)]. In the Dictionary Archive elks hair has not been noted except in the Books of Rates.
OED earliest date of use: 2003 under Pheasant
Found described as for SADDLE
Found rated by HUNDREDWEIGHT of 112 LB, POUND
See also ELK SKIN, UNGULA ALCIS.
[elne; ellne; elle; ele; el]
A linear unit of measure varying in length in different countries and regions. The ENGLISH ELL equalled 45 INCH, but 54 INCH in Shropshire, the Scottish Ell was 37 INCH and the FLEMISH 27 INCH. It was commonly used for measuring LINEN, particularly that which was imported, throughout the period. For other fabrics it virtually died out during the seventeenth century. The term was usually singular when preceded by numerals, in other words '9 ell'.
OED earliest date of use: c1000
Found used for BARRAS, BUSK CLOTH, CAMBRIC, CANVAS CHEESE CLOTH, CYPRESS, DOWLAS, ELBING, GERMANY LINEN, HARFORD, HEMPEN ROLL, HESSIAN, HINDERLAND, HOLLAND, HOLLAND DUCK, HOUSEWIFES CLOTH, KERSEY, LANCASHIRE CLOTH, LINEN, MUSCOVIA LINEN, NORMANDY CANVAS, PACKING CANVAS, PACKING LINEN, POLDAVY, PRUNELLA, QUEENSBOROUGH - CANVAS, RIBBONING, SARSENET, SAY, SPRUCE CANVAS, TAPESTRY, TICKING
See also ENGLISH ELL, FLEMISH ELL, SCOTTISH ELL.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
[elne brood; eln wide; ell-wide; ellwide; ellbroad; ell broad; elbrode; elbrod; elbroad; el wide; el brode]
A measure of width, usually of TEXTILEs, for which an earlier equivalent was 'ell broad'. Until the invention of the flying shuttle by John Kay [Patents (1733)] it required more than one weaver to operate a broad loom, so that TEXTILES defined as ell-wide or ell-broad were relatively unusual. It is noticeable from the Dictionary's Archive that broader fabrics became more common during the eighteenth century, as did the choice of widths offered to customers. The term was applied to such a large variety of textiles, though mainly linen, that there is probably little significance in the ones that happen to appear thus described in the Dictionary's Archive.
OED earliest date of use: 1476 for ell broad; 1652 for ell wide
Found describing BED, CANVAS, DIAPER, DORNICK, HOUSEWIFES CLOTH, MUSLIN, PERSIAN, SHEET, SHEETING, TABLECLOTH, TAFFETA, TROYES
See also YARD WIDE.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
[elmn; elmm; elme]
A once common and magnificent native tree, Ulmus campestris, and other related species, defined by an act of 1773 as a. TIMBER TREE [Acts (1773)]. Because of its propensity to drop branches without warning, an old saying ran 'Elm hateth Man and waiteth' [Mabey (1996)]. Despite this unpleasant characteristic, it produced a valuable timber, exceptionally hard and resistant to wet, splitting and twisting. Its hardness made it difficult to saw, so that John Houghton reckoned it was 'cheaper to build a house with fir, that is bought, than with oak or elm out of one's own ground that costs nothing, especially if they be not over far from a port or navigable river on the West side of England' [Houghton]. But the same property made it invaluable for making the NAVE of a wheel. And, as John Houghton wrote, 'Elm is a timber of most singular use, especially where it may lie continually dry or wet, in extremes; therefore proper for water-works, mills, the ladles and soles of the wheel, pipes pumps, aquæ-ducts, pales, ship-planks beneath the water-line, &c.' [Houghton].
One of the many species of Elm was the Wych Elm, Ulmus montana, also called WITCH HAZEL. According to John Houghton it formerly served 'to make long bows of; but the timber is not so good as the first more vulgar; but the bark ... will serve to make a coarse bast-rope with [Houghton].
Apart from its value as timber, the leaves and bark of the tree were used medicinally [Recipes (Berington)] and (illegally) to adulterate TEA [Acts (1777)].
OED earliest date of use: c1386
Found described as DUTCH, Mountain Found used to make, AXLE TREE, BLOCK, BOW, BOX, CHAIR, CLOCK CASE, COFFIN, DRESSER, HANDLE, HINGE HOOK, HUB, PAIL, PATTEN, PIPE, PLANK, PUMP, SHOVEL BOARD, TABLE, TROUGH, WEATHER BOARD Found in units of PIECE
Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Recipes.
References: Mabey (1996).
[elms & other boards; elmn board; elmeboard; elme inch board; elme halfe inch board; elme bord; elme board; elmboard; elm half inch board]
A BOARD of ELM, and the most common way by which elm appeared in the Dictionary Archive.
Not found in the OED online
Found described as DUTCH, HALF - INCH, INCH Found used to make CHEST
Found in units of FOOT
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).