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.
According to the OED, galanga is synonymous with GALINGALE. However, the appearance of both galanga and galingale in the 1582 Book of Rates [Rates (1582)] is echoed in Turner's Herbal and suggests that the two terms differed, though the similarity of name must have led to confusion. In a modern work on the medicinal plants of India, both Acorus calamus and Alpinia galanga are listed [Thakur et al. (online)]. The entry in [MDadvice (online)] further complicates matters by listing Galanga major and Galanga minor respectively as Alpinia galanga and Alpinia officinalis, with the alternative names of India root and Chinese ginger, perhaps reflecting their place of origin. Further complication arises from the fact that Galenga minor and the lesser galanga are names given to Kaempferia galanga. Although different parts of these plants are used in different cultures, in early-modern England it seems to have been only the so-called roots, in other words the rhizomes and underground stems. Alpinias are related botanically and pharmacologically to GINGER and were known to the ancient Greeks and the Arabs. In modern herbal medicine, they are believed to have anti-bacterial properties [MDadvice (online)]. In all cases the effective agent is contained in the ESSENTIAL OIL.
The aromatic root of certain East Indian plants of the genera Alpinia and Kaempferia, formerly much used in medicine and cookery. Culpeper reported that it grew in parts of England but also that it was predominantly imported from Italy. It was also called sweet CYPERUS and hence by confusion CYPRESS and CYPRUS. In PERFUMERY it was used to scent POWDER.
OED suggests the term meant a watering pot; that is one in which water is stored as opposed to a watering can. The context of many of our early examples suggest they were more commonly FLOWER POTs in the modern sense, since they are found in quite large number, in different, though undefined sizes, usually with other ceramics and once with SAUCERs. A late 'copper garden pot' [Inventories (1716)] valued at 10s fits better the OED definition.
Plants grown in a garden; VEGETABLES for the table; in some contexts possibly also GARDEN SEEDS. Smith appears to include in the term vegetables such as POTATOes, TURNIPs, CARROTs, ONION, and CABBAGEs, as well as APPLEs, all of which he claimed were substantially reduced in price since the 1730s [Smith (1776)].
A gargle or MOUTH WATER. John Houghton suggested that the 'Young red oaken leaves boil'd in wine, make an excellent gargle for a sore mouth' [Houghton], while a 'decoction of the inward part [of ELM bark] has also been much used in gargarisms, or mouth-waters' [Houghton].
Garlic MUSTARD has been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive, in an advertisement for various types of mustard [Tradecards (1800)]. It was a READY MADE MUSTARD, and may have been a COMMON MUSTARD flavoured with GARLIC, or one made from the seeds of Sisymbrium alliaria (Alliaria officinalis), called variously hedge garlic, garlic treaclewort and garlic mustard. It was a common cruciferous weed with an odour like garlic.
A modern recipe suggests pouring boiling RED VINEGAR or CIDER VINEGAR on GARLIC, leaving it to steep for some days and then straining [Zapto.org (2004)]. This is probably similar to recipes used in former times. Garlic vinegar has been an important condiment at least since the middle ages. According to Larousse Gastronomique, garlic vinegar was for sale in the streets of Paris as early as the thirteenth century [Froud and Turgeon (1961)].
The OED suggests a store house for GRAIN or SALT, but in the Dictionary Archive it appears as a BIN or other receptacle in which to keep grain as 'in the malte house A garn' [Inventories (1545)]. This fits the definition given in the 'English Dialect Dictionary' [Wright (1898-1905)].
Whilst it was also used as an abbreviation for CROSS GARNET HINGE, garnet is a vitreous mineral, commonly found as a distinct crystal. As a PRECIOUS STONE, the garnet is a deep red in colour and is used as a GEM to make JEWELLERY. Because of its high value, imitation was inevitable as in 'Aigrets in Imitation of Garnets' [Tradecards (1765)]. It is not known what was meant by the phrase 'Brute garnet' [Newspapers (1790)], except that it was applied to a type of gem and may have indicated a garnet stone in its rough, uncut state.
The term seems to have indicated a set or assortment, and hence 'garnished' in the sense of adorned, decked and furnished. According to Harrison in his account of England in the sixteenth century, PEWTER, 'as we commonlie call by the name of vessell, is sold vsuallie by the garnish, which doeth conteine twelue platters, twelue dishes, twelue saucers' [Harrison (1577, 1587, new edition 1877)]. Garnishes (and half garnishes) of pewter, or VESSEL were common before 1660, but thereafter such items were not usually recorded in this way. Although not in the OED, the term was occasionally extended to cover sets of other objects like BUTTONs; hence 'Thyrteene Garnishe of Buttons' [Inventories (1623)].
The use of the collective term of 'garnish' for pewter, and incidentally for buttons, is suggestive. One meaning of 'garnish' as a verb is to decorate; as in 'a nutt garnished wth sylver' [Inventories (1607)], and one of the most important functions of pewter in the early-modern house was display usually on a set of shelves or a DRESSER in a prominent place. This is most noticeable in some areas; for example, several of the probate inventories of Broseley in Shropshire have their first entry in the form 'A Pewter fframe and pewter thereon' [Trinder and Cox (2000)]. Just as pewter was important for display, so was a set of matching buttons on a fashionable garment, since they were often more decorative than functional. In the Books of Rates the term was used occasionally as an alternative to FURNISHed, as in 'Combe cases garnished with Ivory combes' [Rates (1582)], though even here there are connotations of decoration as well as utility. One listing of stock shows how clearly this idea was of 'Adorned, decked, furnished'; it included '12 Garnisht heads for Canes 4s 6d ... 6 Doz: of Ivory and Horne Studed and Garn' 14s ... 5 Torter Shell garnisht heds 15s ... 6 ditto horne Garnisht 6s' [Inventories (1694)].
Garnishing was a feature of food preparation. For example May's instructions for making MARCHPANE ended with the injunction to 'garnish it with some pretty conceits made of the same stuff' [Recipes (May)], while small birds boiled should be garnished with 'lemon, barberries, sugar, or grated bread strewed about the dish' [Recipes (May)]. At the lower plane of a personal cookery book, Jane Moseley ended her recipe for spinach by suggesting the cook 'Season it with sinamon, ginger, sugar and a few parboyled currans. Then cut hard eggs into quarters to garnish it withall, and serve it upon snippets' [Recipes (Mosley)]. The foreign visitor Charles Saussoure commented on the French garnishings to the roast meats and English puddings [Diaries (Saussure)].
The OED, quoting James' Military Dictionary, suggests it was a diamond headed NAIL, 'formerly used to ornament artillery carriages'. Although not necessarily under this name, it was also a BRASS NAIL with a domed top or ornamental boss used to GARNISH items of FURNITURE that were covered with LEATHER [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)].
A 'phantastical term' invented by Van Helmont 'to denominate some of his imaginary conceptions', Gas sulphuris was an early name for 'Aqua sulphurata' or sulphurated water. Pemberton (1746), 211-2, 58-9]. The 'gas' has been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive [Inventories (1730)], and the water not at all. The preparation was used medicinally, but appears not to have been common.
An exciseman's instrument that works on the principle of the slide rule for measuring the capacity or contents of a cask or other vessel. The equipment offered for sale listed in one shop included 'Floats for Excise Officers; and all other sorts of Rules, and Gauging Rods' [Tradecards (1760)].
A GLOVE worn as part of medieval armour, usually made of LEATHER and covered with plates of STEEL. Much later, probably not until the nineteenth century, the term was more generally applied to any stout GLOVE, covering part of the arm as well as the hand.