Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
This free content was born digital. All rights reserved.
The term derives ultimately from the Latin 'filum' for a thread. It is applied in a variety of ways to a narrow strip or band, usually of some sort of TEXTILE but also of MEAT. One meaning was a head band, a RIBBON or the like used for binding the hair, or worn round the head to keep the headdress in position, or simply for ornament as in the advertisement of 1760 for 'Ladies and Gentlemen's Fillets made in the best Manner, so as to keep the Hair always in Order' [Newspapers (1760)]. From this, the meaning was extended to a strip of material suitable for binding, a band or a bandage. In this sense, a fillet is similar in meaning to BINDING, TAPE and STAYTAPE. There are several nuances of meaning extended beyond these dealt with by the OED but not appearing in the Dictionary Archive.
In cookery the label 'fillet' was given to the fleshy portion of meat near the loins or ribs of an animal, easily detachable, and also a similarly fleshy part in the body of a fowl. In this sense, the term was also used loosely to apply to any portion of MEAT either cut into a strip, or with the bone taken out as in 'the fillet of that leg of veal' [Diaries (Turner)].
[phillitting; philleting; fyllytinge; fillittinge; fillitting; fillitting; filliting; filliting; fillitin; filletting; filleting; filletin; fillating; fileting; ffillitting; ffilliting; ffillettinge; ffilletting; ffilletinge; ffellitting; felliting]
Originally a strip of woven material suitable for binding; a band or bandage, but by the early modern period, probably most commonly a heavy, unbleached HOLLAND TAPE (hence sometime the addition of the descriptor WHITE for bleached filleting). Houghton observed that 'formerly we used to buy them abundantly from Cologne and Holland', but adding that 'since engine-looms have been known, we make great quantities'. [Houghton] Important English centres of manufacture were MANCHESTER and LONDON. After 1660, the variety of filleting on offer increased, and most descriptors, apart from 'white', first appeared after that date. From analysis of valuations, it would seem that the standard PIECE may have been 20 YARD, though there are considerable variations from this. A PAPER, in which unit of measurement both filleting and many other, similar products were wrapped, was variable, sometimes appearing to contain about the same as a piece, sometimes consisting of several pieces. In the shops filleting was frequently listed along with INKLE, indeed one entry in a probate inventory of 1616 appears to have considered filleting to have been a form of inkle.
Although this was the usual meaning, filleting was also used to mean a headband or FILLET, though confusingly this word was in the sixteenth century apparently sometimes used synonymously with filleting. In the later eighteenth century the term 'filleting' was used for a narrow strip of LEATHER or cloth for covering certain parts of a scribbling or carding machine in which the pins of a carding machine were fastened. These pins are presumably what have been noted in the Dictionary Archive as FILLETING PINs.
Found described by BLUE, BROAD cloees, COLOURED, DIAPER, DYED, FINE, HOLLAND, INKLE, LONDON, NARROW, ORANGE and BLUE, PURPLE, STRIPED, twilled, WHITE Found describing INKLE Found made from LINEN YARN Found in units of BUSS, DOZEN, GROSS, LB, PAPER, PIECE, YARD
The only example in the Dictionary Archive was found among the equipment of a SUGAR boiler along with 'Cockle pulley roape & ring' and immediately before an entry reading '1567 greate moulds att 6d a peece' [Inventories (1674)]. This matches well the description given by Randle Holme of the 'Filling stoole or a Pricking stoole' on which 'the Mould is set when it is filled with sugar, and when the Mould hole is stoped that it needs opening with the pricker' [Holme (2000)].
A young MARE or a female FOAL. Fillies were often listed along with the other young HORSEs as in 'iiij Colts & fillyes xls' [Inventories (1561)], or with the collection of breeding mares and their young, 'iij maires one yeeringe fillie and one foale v li' [Inventories (1613)]. Since the term covered quite a range of ages, descriptors indicating age more precisely were quite common, as 'Bay Filly Two Years old' [Diaries (Blundell)].
Filoselle, variously spelt, had several meanings. According to Simmonds it was the name given to a FERRET or FLOSS SILK, as well as to GROGRAM YARN. The Book of Rates for 1660 suggests that filoselle was also a synonym for PARIS SILK [Rates (1660)].
Filoselle was also the name given to a seventeenth-century TEXTILE usually of WORSTED, made in Norwich; a kind of DOUBLE CAMLET [Montgomery (1984)]. The entry in the Book of Rates for 1660 of 'Filozelloes broad of silk, the yard' [Rates (1660)] may have been referring to the fabric or to a 'a wide ribbon, which has the appearance of plaited filoselle silk' mentioned in an OED quotation dated 1892.
The male plant of HEMP, Cannabis sativus, or the fibres extracted from it. Due to a misunderstanding of the nature of the plant, which did not match early-modern ideas of gender, the faster growing and less robust male was given female names. As well as being called fimble, it was labelled barren hemp (because it did not bear seeds) and summer hemp (because it was harvested during August). The results of very small experiment of growing hemp legally in the 1970s suggested that fimble would have represented only a small fraction of the crop [Trinder and Cox (1980)].
Fimble hemp fibres were finer and shorter than those from STEEL HEMP (the product of the true female plant) and were used primarily for domestic purposes; for example, an OED quotation shows it being made up into SHEETs. In [Inventories (1728)] it was found valued at 3s 2d STONE as opposed to GREEN - PILLINGS at 2s.
The same term, fining, was used for refining metals, especially converting CAST IRON into WROUGHT IRON. It is probably in the context of this meaning that the '62 li finings' found in the 'back Garret' of a TOY maker [Inventories (1751)] should be interpreted, though exactly what they were is not clear.
A VEGETABLE, now often called SWEET FENNEL, the dwarf or FRENCH FENNEL. Its current botanic name is Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce, but it was frequently given the status of a species as Foeniculum dulce. It is now considered a variety of the common fennel with some markedly different characteristics. It is a much dwarfer plant growing only to a height of 15-18 INCH, that has very large leaf bases. It is this bulbous section that is cooked in ways suitable for CELERY.
One entry in the Dictionary Archive was for eleven of 'ffirr mills' found among a large list of childrens TOYs in the stock of a haberdasher of smallwares. They were probably made of WOOD and cheap at about 2d each, although some were broken [Inventories (1681)]. Possibly they were similar to the WINDMILLs found among the toys in several trade catalogues.