Gudgeon - Gunpowder tea

Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.

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A pivot, usually of metal, fixed on or let into the end of a beam, a spindle, or axle etc. and on which a wheel turns, a bell swings, or the like. In the only example in the Dictionary Archive, 'Gudgeons and Spindles for Mills Wheels Pinions and Rollers' were intended for use in 'Carding and Spinning Machines' [Newspapers (1782)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1400 under Gudgeon

Sources: Newspapers.

Guemar plums

[guimaroen plumb]

They have been noted in the Dictionary Archive only as 'Guimaroen Plumbs in Boxes' [Tradecards (18c.)]. Probably they were similar to DRIED PLUMS or FRENCH PLUMS from the region of Guémar in southern France.

Sources: Tradecards.

Guinea box

[guinea boxe]

A small decorative BOX, possibly for keeping guineas in. Such boxes became fashionable in the late eighteenth century, but probably disappeared - or were put to other uses - after 1813 when coining ceased.

Not found in the OED

Found described as INLAID, PLAIN Found made of BONE, IVORY, WOOD

Sources: Tradecards.

Guinea stuffs

A colourful TEXTILE listed by Milburn among INDIA - PIECE GOODS formerly imported from Bombay and Surat [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. They were usually, but not invariably, made of COTTON, mostly STRIPED or CHECKED and well esteemed as their colours were seen to be fast. Florence Montgomery suggests that these were sold to plantation owners in the West Indies 'as cheap clothing for slaves' [Montgomery (1984)], but their name suggests they were also exported to Africa. This is confirmed by their appearance in a list in the 1760s of 'India goods for Africa' [Acts (1766)], and in the Rates Book of 1784 among those fabric banned from use in Britain and imported only for re-export [Rates (1784)]. Yule and Burnell confirm that they were bought in India specifically for the West African trade [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)].

OED earliest date of use: 1813

Found rated by the PIECE

See also CLOUT.
Sources: Acts, Rates.
References: Montgomery (1984), Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).



A common variant is 'garlick' although the context should distinguish it from GARLIC. The term refers to a TEXTILE in the form of a LINEN CLOTH, named after the town of Juliers (Gulik in Dutch) in which it was manufactured. Although the variety of terms for imported linens in the Books of Rates probably often resulted from attempts by merchants to circumvent the excise duty, this does not seem to have been the case here. Apart from a doubtful entry that reads 'parcel of Inkle & thred & garlick' [Inventories (1625)], gulix first appeared in the Dictionary Archive in 1657 [Rates (1657)] when it was listed under HOLLAND Linens. It appears occasionally in the late seventeenth century, but becomes more common after 1700. The anonymous author of the Merchant's Warehouse apparently thought highly of gulix concluding that it was 'of great and general use for all persons of Quality, and Gentry of any Quality ... being the most proper of fine Shifts or Sheets'. He considered that it should be YARD WIDE 'if fairly measured' and 'of all Cloth the whitest except BAG HOLLAND' [Anon (1696)].

There is a second linen cloth with a similar name emanating from Goerlitz in Silesia, and the anonymous author of the Merchant's Warehouse described several sorts under the name of Garlitz. Mostly, they seem to have been more BROWN than gulix and difficult to wash white, but good for dyeing BLUE [Anon (1696)]. It has not proved practicable to distinguish the one from the other in the Dictionary Archive.

OED first date of use: 1696

Found described as BROAD, ELL WIDE, FINE, NARROW, 7/8 wide, WASHED, YARD WIDE
Found for sale measured by ELL, PIECE, YARD

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates.
References: Anon (1696), Montgomery (1984), 245-6.


[gumme; gumm; gu'; gom]

Viscid secretions from certain trees and shrubs which harden in drying, differing from RESIN because it was usually soluble in hot and cold water (though not in alcohol) and might have an odour and/or taste. Gum was principally used to dress CLOTH, an activity that was outlawed in 1512 in relation to WORSTED [Acts (1512)], and was also used in medicine. Many varieties were available on the market place, the most common being: GUM ARABIC, GUM ELEMI, GUM HEDERAE, GUM LAC, GUM SANDARAC, GUM SENEGAL, GUM SERAPINUM.

Found described as GUAICUM, white wax Found describing dragagant, guaicum Found used to make INK
Found imported and rated by the CWT, TUN

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Rogers & Aubert (1912), 624-9.

Gum ammoniac

[gum-armoniac; gum hammaniacum; gum armoniack; gum amoniacu'; gum ammoniacum]

As Rolt pointed out, it was 'sometimes called improperly Gum armoniac'.

This is a yellowish gum RESIN with a sickening, bitter taste obtained from the milky exudate of the injured stem of the umbelliferous plant, Dorema ammoniacum. It was named after one of the regions of origin, the Libyan region of Ammonia although the plant also grows elsewhere in north Africa, India and Siberia. When gum ammoniac is distilled, it yields a liquid, called oil of ammoniac [Columbia Encyclopedia (online), under Ammoniac].

Typically of his age, when the original source was not always known with certainty, even by those involved in trade, Rolt wrote that it was from the East Indies 'where it is supposed to ooze from an umbelliferous plant'. However, he further wrote that it was 'distilled in white drops after an incision, from ... a species of ferula' growing in the 'Lybian sands' about the 'places where it is imagined the temple of Jupiter Ammon formerly stood' [Rolt (1761)].

He was more confident as to how it appeared in trade, writing that it was 'brought to Europe in drops, or in great lumps: that in the drops ought to be white within, and externally yellow _ and of a very sharp taste and smell like garlic'. Of lac ammoniac, which does not appear in the Dictionary Archive, Rolt said that it was a solution of the gum in VINEGAR [Rolt (1761)].

Gum ammoniac was most commonly used in medicine as an expectorant taken by patients with phlegm and 'fluxes of humours' in the form of an OINTMENT, and as an ingredient of PLAISTERs to treat 'hard swellings'.

OED earliest date of use: 1627

Found in units of OZ Found among the DRUGS, rated by the C of 112 LB, HUNDREDWEIGHT, POUND

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Rates, Recipes.
References: Columbia Encyclopedia (online), Rolt (1761).

Gum arabic

[gume arrabecke; gume arabacke; gume araback; gum-arabic; gum arubeck; gum' arromecke; gum arrobeck; gum arraback; gum arabick; gum arabecke; gum arabeck; gum arabake; gum araback; gum arabac; gum arab; gu' arabecke; gu' arabacke; gu' araback; goom arabecke; gom arabick]

An exudation of various varieties of ACACIA, of which a variety was called GUM SENEGAL. It was used in medicine, for example as an ingredient of MITHRIDATE and VENICE TREACLE. Apart from that, it was used in some recipes to make INK [Recipes (Save Wealth)], and also as a stiffener after washing SILK like SARSENET [Recipes (Mosley)].

Although rated in the seventeenth-century Books of Rates [Rates (1582)], it was included among unrated DRUGS in an act passed in the early eighteenth century [Acts (1704)].

OED earliest date of use: a1500

Found described as FINE, POWDERED (pulverisat) Found as an ingredient in INK, MITHRIDATE, VENICE TREACLE
Found in units of C, LB, OZ Found among the DRUGS, rated by the C of 112 POUND, HUNDRED and 12 POUND

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.

Gum elemi

[gumlemney; gumi elenii; gum-elemi; gum ellemi; gum elenum; gum elemni; gum elams; gum elami'; gu' elemy]

A RESIN obtained from various trees, in commerce mainly from Canarium commune (Ceylon), but also from Icica cicariba (Brazil), and Elaphrium elemiferum (Mexico). It was imported in cylindrical cakes covered with palm leaves. Being costly, it was frequently adulterated with the resin taken from the common FIR [Tomlinson (1854)]. It was used as a stimulant and in the manufacture of PLASTER, OINTMENT and VARNISH.

OED earliest date of use: 1543 under Elemi

Found in units of LB, OZ Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Tomlinson (1854).

Gum hederae

[hedere; hederdiare; gummi hedere; gum-hederae; gum hedera; gum' edere; gum edere; gu' hedere]

The thickened juice of the stem of ivy. According to John Gerard, this GUM 'killeth nits and lice, and taketh away haire: it is of so hot a qualitie, as that it doth obscurely burn' [Gerard (1633, facs. 1975)]. He claimed that it was rarely used in his day, though it is not infrequently found in retailers' stock.

OED earliest date of use: c1550as Gum ivy

Found in units of OZ Found in the Rate Books among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: Gerard (1633, facs. 1975).

Gum juniperi

[gum-sandrake or juniperi; gum juniper]

The identification of the resins so named, is problematic. Gum juniperi was an alternative name for GUM SANDARAC. Today this is extracted from a different tree and has nothing to do with the common JUNIPER. However, a nineteenth-century medicinal source quoted by the OED maintained that similar exudations in the form of small tears of sap were collected from the common juniper, called gum sandarac and used medicinally. This seems doubtful, for although Nicholas Culpeper deals extensively with the medicinal virtues of JUNIPER BERRIES, he does not mention a GUM. Probably gum juniperi was then, as it is now, a synonym for gum sandarac, at least where medicine was concerned. John Houghton, who does refer to a gum taken from Juniper, also mentions that it was 'good to rub on parchment or paper to make it bear ink', one of the uses to which gum sandarac was put, so here too there may have been confusion [Houghton].

OED earliest date of use: 1844

Found rated by HUNDRED WEIGHT, 112 LB, POUND

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (late), Rates.

Gum water


The OED suggest it was a solution of GUM ARABIC in water. In this sense it was used, for example, to make GOLD LEAF adhere to MARCHPANE [Recipes (Nott)]. However some of the quotations in the OED suggest the term was used more generally for other GUMs dissolved in water.

OED earliest date of use: 1639

Sources: Recipes.

Gun hammer

[hammer for gun; gunn hammer]

The cock of the striker in a GUN LOCK. It seems that they were not made by the GUNSMITH, but rather by those working in metal. The firing mechanism of a gun received some attention from innovators, hence several patents exist, including one for a 'Waterproof pan and hammer for gun and pistol-locks' [Patents (1800)].

OED earliest date of use: 1875 under Gun lock

Sources: Inventories (late), Patents, Tradecards.

Gun screw

The term has not been found in the dictionaries, and only once in the Dictionary Archive where it appears among the stock of a GUN smith as 'Ten Gun Screws' valued at 1d each [Inventories (1750)]. This gives considerably higher value compared with some other types of SCREW, but a much lower one than the JINNY SCREW. From modern examples offered for sale (often called 'gun wood screw'), a guns crew is a modified form of WOOD SCREW, presumably for attaching metal parts to the GUN STOCK, though why it was valued so much more highly is not clear.

Sources: Inventories (late).

Gunpowder blue

[gunepowder blew]

The context suggests that gunpowder blue was a form of blueing agent like STONE BLUE, with which it was coupled in the same (and only) entry noted [Inventories (1667)]. Beyond that, there is no indication of what made it distinct from the many other blueing agents noted in the Dictionary Archive.

OED only has it as a COLOUR

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Gunpowder tea


The term is sometimes abbreviated to 'Gunpowder'. A popular form of GREEN TEA, so called because its tightly rolled green leaves have a granular appearance resembling the cartridges of GUNPOWDER used in the guns of eighteenth-century ships. Simmonds, writing in the early-twentieth century, quotes one authority who considered gunpowder tea to be a superior form of HYSON TEA, while another declared it was grown in a special plantation and scented with the sweet-scented olive, Olea fragrans. Simmonds himself described it as having a small, short leaf, 'tightly rolled, and of a good green colour. Liquor clear, pale straw-colour; pungent, with a sharp delicate flavour inclining to bitter' [Simmonds (1906)]. Prices quoted in the 1780s ranged from 14s to 18s per LB; among the highest noted at that time [Newspapers (1780)]; [Newspapers (1780)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1771 under Gunpowder

Found described as FINE, finest Found describing HYSON TEA
Found in units of LB

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Simmonds (1906).