Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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A HAMMER operated with one hand, unlike the SLEDGE for which both hands were required. The two were quite often listed together as 'a fore hammer ij hand hammers' [Inventories (1577)]. Typically the hand hammer was the blacksmith's smaller tools since he also required the sledge, but most workmen needed hammers specific to their craft, and most were hand hammers, though not labelled as such. In one example the hand hammer was abbreviated to 'hands', though the context makes the meaning clear [Inventories (1686)]. Four distinct types of the hand hammer appear in the stock of one Blacksmith who had 'iij hand hammers', as well as 'iij nayling hamers ij shoeinge hamers and iij reveting hamers' together all worth 3s 4d [Inventories (1592)].
According to Randle Holme, the 'Hand-Saw, or ... Boardsaw; is used by Joyners and other Wood-men, to cut or slit small Timber, as Boards, Spars, Rails, &c. though indeed the Saw cannot properly be said to cut or slit but rent, break, or tear away such part of the Wood as the points of the Teeth strike into [Holme (2000)]. It was a small SAW, held in one hand, with the teeth set more finely than the WHIP SAW, but more coarsely than the TENON SAW [Moxon (1703, facs. 1989)].
The term refers to a light BILL or PRUNING KNIFE. Much later the same term (though usually extended to 'Hand bill') was applied to a printed notice or advertisement on a single page, intended to be delivered or circulated by hand, or sometimes to be posted on walls, etc. There is only one example in the Dictionary Archive of this second meaning in an act of parliament: 'Hand Bill or Advertisement' [Acts (1788)].
The OED has two quotations each of which suggest it was a TEXTILE of some sort, probably a form of coarse TAPE used to bind a MAT or MATTING. The one dated 1532 may also have been measured in units of the POUND as it was in two examples in the Dictionary Archive. Here it was listed among the HARDWARE and HABERDASHERY in the stock of a grocer along with various sorts of TWINE, CORD and other miscellanea [Inventories (1682)]; [Inventories (1685)]. It may have been synonymous with TAPE BAND.
Also referred to as hung beef, the OED suggests that 'Hung' with reference to 'Hung beef' means to become 'high'. This does not seem to be the meaning of the examples found in the Dictionary Archive, and elsewhere. Here it means hung up to dry or smoke, a good way to keep meat before refrigeration became a reliable alternative. It was almost certainly salted prior to this [Recipes (Smith)]. BEEF was often recorded in probate inventories, implying it was in a form that would keep; hence common entries like 'beefe and bacon' [Inventories (1670)]. Probably most was in the form of hang beef, though some may have been preserved in BRINE and called SALT BEEF. Whatever called, the product was more common than the term.
In the general sense, the term referred to any device from which something could be hung, as in 'one Hanger for a towell' [Inventories (1590)], and 'One lazyback [LAZY BACK] and hanger' [Inventories (1719)]. It is not known what the 'Brass Mounted Hanger' was found in a list of stolen goods [Newspapers (1790)]. There are, however, several more specific meanings, three of which have been noted in the Dictionary Archive.
First of all it was an often richly ornamented loop or strap attached to the SWORD BELT or GIRDLE, from which the SWORD was hung; that is a SWORD HANGER. By transference the term came to be used for the short sword of the type hung from such belt or girdle.
The term, more commonly found as POT HANGER, was also applied to a chain or iron rod from which a POT or KETTLE was hung by means of POT HOOKs in the kitchen fireplace. It hence became a nursery name for one of the elementary shapes that children made when learning to write their letters; usually in the phrase 'pot-hooks and hangers'.
A BRANCH in the sense of a BRANCHED - CANDLESTICK, designed to hang from a bracket or from the ceiling, as in 'a hangyng branche of brasse to cary candles vjs viijd' [Inventories (1553)]; also related to a HANGING CANDLESTICK.
John Gloag suggests it was a CUPBOARD sufficiently high and deep to allow clothes to hang at full length [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)]. It could alternatively have been a small CUPBOARD for fixing on the wall rather than standing down on the floor or on a table.
OED suggests 'A roasting jack hung before the fire'. It is more likely to be a SMOKE JACK. It was presumably used with a HANGING SPIT. In the only reference in the Dictionary Archive it was intended 'to roast birds upon' [Diaries (Pepys)].
The few examples found in the Dictionary Archive all date from the eighteenth century, and appear to have referred to some kitchen utensil. It was possibly a flat disc of metal that could be hung over the fire on which to bake drop scones and the like.
A PRESS or CUPBOARD in which to hang clothes. It was unusual to hang clothes while they were in storage. Instead, they were laid flat in a CLOTHES CHEST with a lid or a CLOTHES PRESS with doors that opened to reveal sliding shelves. Hanging presses were in use by mid-seventeenth century and provided pegs on which to hang clothes. Nicholas Blundell made it explicit what one was for when he wrote in 1718 of buying a 'Press for hanging in my Wifes Cloths' costing £1 10s [Diaries (Blundell)].
A SHELF suspended rather than attached to the wall. Although noted fairly frequently in the Dictionary Archive, there may have been many more but without the descriptor 'hanging'. What might seem to modern eyes a rather inefficient way of fixing a shelf was probably seen as a protection from depredation by rats and mice. Illustrations from Aesop show popular beliefs in the rodent's preference for shelves, and the possible danger of food left there [Fissell (1999)]. Gloag suggests an alternative meaning of a shelf or set of shelves 'for books or china', citing various eighteenth-century furniture makers [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)].
The DRAPERY with which a BEDSTEAD or the walls of a room were hung. Hangings were usually of TEXTILES, either patterned in the weave, or as PAINTED CLOTHs or TAPESTRY, but LEATHER HANGINGS were not uncommon. During the first half of the seventeenth century, the market for hangings increased, as did the opportunities for applying new technologies. This awoke the interest of innovators who wished to protect their work, such as the one offering a new method of 'Painting with oil colours upon woollen-cloth, kerseys, and stuffs for hangings; also on silks for windows' [Patents (1637)]; [Patents (1692)].
The term 'hangings' was later extended to include PAPER in the form of PAINTED PAPER, PRINTED Paper and STAINED Paper used for what we would call WALLPAPER. It is suggested by some authorities that the terms CURTAIN and hangings were used interchangeably. Sometimes this appears to have been true, as in the entry '2 pair bed steads, Matts, cords and Curtaine rods w'th hangings' [Inventories (1702)]. However, entries like 'Curtains & hangings for ye Room' are also commonplace in the Dictionary Archive [Inventories (1700)], which suggest different meanings may have been intended for each of the two terms. Further analysis suggests that the term was applied interchangeably with the BED CURTAINs and was used also for the TEXTILES hanging round the room, but apparently much less commonly for the WINDOW CURTAINs. It is therefore commonplace to find entries in which the bed hangings are listed distinct from those for the window as in 'Bed Stids Hangings and Window Curtains' [Inventories (1733)]. The patent quoted above suggests that this may have been because different fabrics were used for different purposes; the heavy textiles like TAPESTRY and KERSEY for the bed and the walls and SILK for the windows.
Hangings, even those like TAPESTRY apparently designed for a particular situation, had second hand value, and were adapted by the new owner. For example, Samuel Pepys acquired a 'suit of Apostles' for £83, which he felt would also 'answer any other room or service' [Diaries (Pepys)]. The growing popularity of COAL fires, and the smoke and dust they engendered, seems to have been one reason why hangings went out of fashion in the early eighteenth century [Diaries (Saussure)]. Another was the growing popularity of WALLPAPER. Even so the service of cleaning and refurbishing was widely offered right through the century, for example [Newspapers (1760)]; [Newspapers (1790)].
The term was also applied occasionally to what was more commonly called a POT HANGING as in 'Two payre of Pott hookes & Two hangings' [Inventories (1666)], and to the HANGER as in 'sword girdles w'th hangings iiijs ijd' [Inventories (1583)].
Found described as BED, BLUE, CHECK, CHINA, COPPER PLATE, CRIMSON and GREEN DOUBLE, FINE, with FRINGE, FROSTed, GILT (LEATHER), GREEN, KIDDERMINSTER, LACED, MANCHESTER, OLD, PLAID, PLAIN, PRINTED, RED, RED and BLUE, RED and GREEN, SAD, STRIPED, TAPESTRY, WHITE WORK, WROUGHT, YELLOW, YELLOW and GREEN Found made of BAYS, BUCKRAM, CHEYNEY, CHINTZ, COTTON, DAMASK, DIMITY, DORNICK, DRUGGET, HARATEEN, LEATHER, LINEN, MOREEN, PLOD, SAY, SERGE, STUFF, TAPESTRY
Found in units of PAIR, PIECE, SET, SUIT Found rated by the DOZEN - PIECE
See also HANGING SHEET, PAINTED HANGINGS, PAPER HANGINGS, PRINTED HANGINGS, ROOM HANGINGS, TAPESTRY HANGING, WINDOW HANGINGS.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Tradecards.
OED suggests this a variant of 'Hengle', which is given as an obsolete variant of 'Hingle' or HINGE, especially that part of the hinge that is attached to the gate or door and turns upon the crook or pintle fixed on the post. Only in a late-nineteenth century quotation is an approximation given of the meaning found widely in the Dictionary Archive of a device identical with or at least similar in function to the POT HANGLE or POT HANGER.