Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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A unit of linear measurement for CLOTH, generally consisting of 45 INCH used in Flanders or for FLEMISH textile goods. It was 27 INCH long, the equivalent of 3/4 of an English YARD and 5/4 of the ENGLISH ELL [Zupko (1968)].
The Books of Rates for both 1657 and 1660 referred to both DOGFISH SKIN and HUSS SKIN for fletchers. It was apparently used for smoothing and polishing ARROWs. Randle Holme refers to fletchers using a FISH SKIN for the purpose. He illustrated the tool into which the skin was fastened and used to 'set a gloss and brightness in their work', and presumably to reduce the friction of the air in flight. The tool resembles the modern holder for sandpaper [Holme (2000)]; [Holme (2000)].
Although the term was almost always given as 'Flower tub', a flour TUB had nothing to do with flowers but was used either for storing or for preparing FLOUR. This is confirmed by entries like 'Flower dressing Tub' [Inventories (1774)], and 'one flower Tubb foure rowling pinns' [Inventories (1671)]. If for storage, flour tubs must have had covers, and this is recorded in entries like 'Flour Tub and cover' [Inventories (1780)].
Flower of mustard
Standard spelling would render it FLOUR of MUSTARD. The term refers to MUSTARD SEED of any of the several varieties GROUND to the consistency of FLOUR. Most flours were a mixture of BROWN MUSTARD and WHITE MUSTARD since it produced the best flavour. The most noted form of the flour was DURHAM MUSTARD, and it was probably this type that was referred to in phrases like 'true Flower of Mustard-seed [Newspapers (1743)]. Like many PATENT MEDICINEs, flower of mustard was one of the commodities that could reach the consumer via the network of 'men who delivered the news', in other words, the men who took the newspapers and some of a specific range of products from the printer to the end consumer [Newspapers (1752)].
Flowers of brimstone
[flower of brimstone; flower of brimston; flower brimstone; flower brimston; flower and roll brimstone; flow' brimstone; flo'r brim's; floore brimstone; floor of brimstoe; fflowr brimstone; fflower of brimstone; fflower and stone brimstone; fflour of brimstone]
This term is found in the Dictionary Archive mostly as 'Flower of brimstone', but 'Flowers' is more common in other sources, and is a more correct translation of the Latin 'Flores'. It is also consistent with the synonym FLOWERS OF SULPHUR, in which the plural is almost invariable. Flowers of BRIMSTONE was a finely powdered form of SULPHUR and a synonym for FLOWERS OF SULPHUR.
Flowers of sulphur
In early chemistry 'the Latin 'Flores' was applied in to any fine impalpable powder, especially that produced by sublimation; or as Phillips put it in 1706, 'Flores ... in Chymistry [are] the more subtil parts of a substance separated from the grosser by Sublimation' [OED, Flores]. 'Flowers' is a straightforward translation into English of the term. It is closely related to FLOUR, and the two forms were interchangeable to some degree. Flowers of sulphur is a synonym of FLOWERS OF BRIMSTONE.
Flowers of sulphur are a purified form of SULPHUR in POWDER, in Latin known as 'Flores sulphuris' or less correctly 'Flos sulphuris'. They were used primarily in APOTHECARY, but could be reprocessed as is described under SULPHUR to produce roll sulphur otherwise known as ROLL BRIMSTONE and then OIL OF VITRIOL (sulphuric acid). Moist flowers of sulphur exposed to air will slowly oxidise into OIL OF VITRIOL [Partington (1953)]. This must have necessitated the careful storage of the flowers so that they stayed dry, and may explain the frequent references to the container in which they were kept, usuall a CASK, for example [Inventories (1733)].
The mid-eighteenth century 'London Dispensatory' included a recipe by subliming SULPHUR on a small scale in a 'fit vessel', and then by grinding the product in a 'wooden mill' or in a MARBLE MORTAR with a wooden PESTLE. Since the crude flowers could cause 'gripings' when taken internally, it was suggested that they should be washed, when they would be named 'Flores sulphuris Loti' [Pemberton (1746)].
Flowers of sulphur is the most common form of sulphur found in the Dictionary Archive. Ocasionally it is found listed with SULPHURUM VIVUM, showing both the crude and the prepared in one shop [Inventories (1665)].
Either a medicinal water in which the main ingredient was flies, apparently a specific treatment for disorders of the eyes [OED, Fly], or a water designed to kill flies, the sense in which it appears in the Dictionary Archive [Diaries (White)]. An OED definition dated 1855 claimed it was a solution of ARSENIC or decoction of QUASSIA bark for killing flies. It is probable that the same or similar ingredients were being used in the previous century.
Described in the Books of Rates as a type of GREY SKIN. GREY, which was sometimes used short for grey skin, is often assumed to be the badger, but this interpretation is difficult to sustain in the case of 'flying grey'. It was possibly the skin of the flying squirrel of Virginia, described by Captain Smith in 1624, but whatever it was, it seems to have made little impact on the FUR trade, and disappears even from the Books of Rates.