Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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Lichen cinerus terrestris
An alternative name of the ash-coloured ground LIVERWORT, mentioned by Dr Mead in his recipe for the treatment for the bite of a mad dog [Recipes (Smith)]. Pemberton included it among the Materia Medica, giving as its English name as ground liverwort [Pemberton (1746)].
A very cheap form of COMB, possibly synonymous with a HALFPENNY COMB, made of one of the light but close-grained woods called LIGHTWOOD by Randle Holme, such as blackthorn [Holme (2000)]; [Cox (1966, pb 1969)].
A modified version of the Latin term 'Lignum aloes', in English ALOES WOOD. The term was first applied to ALOES itself, as the early quotations in the OED show. Somewhat later it was applied to AGALLOCH, the fragrant heart-wood of Aquilaria, in English known as ALOES WOOD, 'Agila wood' and 'Eagle wood'. After the discovery of the Americas, the term was also used for an aromatic wood from a Mexican tree of the genus Burseria. The examples in the OED and in the Dictionary Archive rarely give sufficient context to decide which was intended, though most of the examples there do seem to be in the form of the processed juice.
The term refers to the smallest size of PIN [Perkins (1853)], apparently even smaller than the so-called SMALL PIN. It was probably a synonym of MINIKIN. Lillikins were listed in the Case of the Petition of the Corporation of Pin Makers [B.L. Tracts on Trade (n.d.), 816 m13/89], which contains a full list of the varieties of pins currently made, and lillikins have been found, though not commonly in the shops. The term is not found in the OED, which has 'Lill', suggesting after Beck that it is a 'pin of very small size', and possibly an abbreviation of 'Lilliputian'.
Originally an inhabitant of Jonathan Swift's imaginary country of Lilliput in his Gulliver's Travels first published in 1726. The term was subsequently used by the makers of CHILDRENS TOYs to denote a very small BABY or DOLL. It may have had much the same meaning as 'Thumbs and Dwarfs', although these were also found in the same document [Tradecards (1794)].
A large family of flowering bulbous plants, some of which were known in the early-modern period and were valued for their decorative qualities. The most well known was Lilium candidum, otherwise known as the Madonna lily for the purity of the white flowers. It will have been to this plant that the term 'Lily' without descriptor was most often applied. It had long been cultivated. Although some lilies are sweetly scented, items of TOILETRY and APOTHECARY such as LILY PASTE and OIL of LILIES were probably derived from other species like LILY OF THE VALLEY and the water lilies, Nuphar lutea and Nymphaea alba.
Lily of the valley
An attractive flowering plant with a strong, distinctive scent, Convallaria majalis, available as SEED for the garden [Tradecards (n.d.)]. The flowers as 'flor Lilly Conval' have been noted in stocks of APOTHECARY, presumably dried [Inventories (1693)]. All parts of the plant, including the flowers and the red berries that follow, are highly poisonous, acting on the heart in the same way as Digtalis (foxglove) [Mabey (1996)].
No recipe for this preparation has been located, but it was not something similar to the OINTMENT mentioned by Culpeper [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)]. This was made from the ground and roasted roots of Lilium candidum mixed with HOGS GREASE and intended for medicinal use. The only example in the Dictionary Archive is found in a piece of promotional literature, as an item of TOILETRY along with other items for beautiying the skin [Tradecards (1790s)].
Sense 1) Known also as BIRD-LIME, the term referes to a viscous, sticky substance prepared from the bark of HOLLY (see HOLLY STICK), used to catch small birds. This was the most likely sort of lime recorded in trading records, because it was not necessary to record the carriage of building nor agricultural lime. Houghton confirms the importation of various types of this lime in 'great quantities'. He singled out the three most common types: first, that of a green colour, imported from Turkey and Damascus, and of a limited utility becuase it was 'subject to frosts' and would not 'last above a year or two;' second, that of a yellow colour, imported from Syria; and third, the type imported from Spain, 'whiter than the rest, which will resist the water, but id of an ill scent.'
Sense 2) An alkaline earth, prepared by submitting LIMESTONE (carbonate of lime) to a red heat. During this process the carbonic acid was driven off, leaving the brittle white solid of pure or quick lime. Although this commodity rarely appears in trading records such as the Gloucester Coastal Port Books, it is discussed in other sources due its application as the main constituent of building MORTAR, and in a number of industrial processes. Lime was used to clean BONEs prior to dying and to remove blood-stains, bad smells from SKINs and HIDEs. This application of lime as a bleaching agent was prohibited by ACTS 10 ANNE C21 (1711), and again by ACTS 13 GEO1 C (1726); which suggests it was a common practice not easily stamped out by legislation. In addition, prior to tanning, hides were successively placed in lime pits and dried in order to loosen the flesh from the skins. Lime was also used in SOAP making (in the extraction of POT ASHES), in IRON smelting and in the fermentation of wine, with other substances such as ALABASTER and MARBLE.
4) The globular fruit of the tree, Citrus aurantifolia, that were smaller than LEMONs and of a more acidic taste, hence the appelation 'sour lime.' As this citrus tree was less hardy than others, its propagation was confined to the tropics and sub-tropics. During the eighteenth century lime was popularly used as a preventative measure against scurvy. LIME JUICE was regularly traded, and lime was also available in the form of a CONSERVE. A BARREL of limes produced about 8 GALLONs of lime juice. Preventing fermentation in store was a problem only solved in more recent times through the use of salicylic acid. It is not known by what means, if any, were taken to solve the problem in the early modern period.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Nicholson et al (1985), 86-7, Simmonds (1904), II, 261-2.
Juice extracted from the fruit of the tree, Citrus medica, much used according to John Houghton to make PUNCH and in dyeing [Houghton]. It was also an ingredient of other alcoholic drinks like AQUA COELESTIS [Diaries (Blundell)]. Considerable quantities were imported; Houghton recorded, for example, that over four TUN came into London during January 1682/3 [Houghton]. It was only in the latter half of the eighteenth century that it was recognized as a preventative against scurvy.
A type of TEXTILE that is usually described as being woven exclusively from FLAX but during the early modern period the term was also loosely applied to cloth made from HEMP. The stems of either the hemp or flax plant were soaked in water to loosen the fibres from their woody coating, a process known as retting [De La Coux (1903)]. After carding and combing, called heckling, scutching or gigging, the fibres lay parallel and were ready for spinning. Prior to weaving, the YARN was sometimes bleached, though linen was also sold unbleached, in which case it was known as BROWN or GREEN, as opposed to unbleached woollen cloth which was called GREY [Trinder and Cox (1980)]. Bleaching was a fairly specialized process and could take up to six months [Kerridge (1985)]. At the beginning of the period yarn was placed either in sour buttermilk or in a boiling alkalized water called lye, made from ASHES or LIME, and then left exposed to the elements for some time [Baines (1985, 1998 ed.)]. In addition, ACTS 18 GEO2 C24 (1745) indicates that it was also practice to weave some linen in long pieces, which were then cut into sections for bleaching and WHITENING. This process became more efficient during the eighteenth century following the manufacture of chemical bleaches: oil of vitriol, made from dilute sulphuric acid, in 1760, and a chlorine-based product introduced at the end of the period [Collins (1994)].
Linen manufacture in Britain has a long history, dating from around 1253 when Flemish immigrants brought skills and expertise. The early modern period was a particularly important time for innovation and the expansion of linen production in Britain and on the continent. Home-produced printed linens were available from 1579, and in 1634 the emergence of the successful Irish linen industry began with the introduction of manufacturing techniques into Ireland by Lord Wentworth [Perkins (1853)]. The cultivation of flax for linen expanded to service English markets, particularly after 1696 when import duties were lifted; and in 1704 when 'plain Irish linens were admitted duty free to the American colonies' [Collins (1994)]. In England hemp was grown and processed in Shropshire, Suffolk and the south west. Flax was first cultivated in these areas and in Cheshire, Lancashire, and later in the Midlands. While Norwich, Canterbury, Maidstone and London were initially the important areas of linen weaving, owing to the local expertise of the Flemish immigrants, easy access to flax and hemp led to the expansion of linen manufacturing in the north Midlands and in particular Lancashire. To service these areas specialist bleaching businesses were established in and around Manchester [Kerridge (1985)]. Located near the ports of Chester, Liverpool and Preston, linen-weaving businesses in Lancashire were well placed to supplement supplies of local grown flax with imports of Irish yarn from around the 1680s [Kerridge (1985)].
As well as imports from Ireland, yarn and linen cloth from the continent were available in English markets. The cultivation of flax in France, northern Germany and the Low Countries dates from at least the twelfth century. From the later seventeenth century quantities of yarn for linen manufacture was imported chiefly from Prussia, Poland, Lithuania and Muscovy [Kerridge (1985)]. In addition, Houghton commented upon imported linen yarn from Hamburg being used to make DIMITY and FUSTIAN. Prior to the expansion of English linen manufacture diverse types of linen cloths, particularly fine linens, were imported from France and the Low Countries, such as DIAPER, DAMASK and plain linen from the fifteenth century onwards [Mitchell (1989)]. The main export centres on the continent were Bruges and Antwerp, which continued to do vigorous trade with England as markets for linen expanded during the early modern period [Collins (1994)].
Foreign competition increased the diversity of linens available to British consumers. This is reflected in the inventories and trade publications of the period which contain lists of many types of linen, ranging in quality from coarse BUCKRAM, HUCKABACK and BARRAS, to HEMPEN and to fine HOLLAND and LAWNs. Whilst linens such as these were distinguished owing to the quality of the weave and the yarn, others were identified according to the place of original manufacture such as SLEAZY lawns, and HOLLAND LINEN, FLANDERS LINEN, HAMBURG LINEN, MUSCOVIA LINEN and GERMANY LINEN. In addition, names such as DIAPER and DAMASK denoted fabrics with particular styles in the weave. Damask that was often made with, or incorporated, linen yarn, was characterized by reversible patterns of flowers, coats of arms and scenes [Collins (1994)]; [Montgomery (1984)]. From the later fifteenth century the term diaper described a linen cloth with an all over woven pattern such as diamonds and strips [Baines (1985, 1998 ed.)]; [Montgomery (1984)]. If such choice was not confusing enough for retailers and consumers, the term linen became a generic name for other types of textiles. This is implied in John Houghton's description of imports into England in 1694-5, which included 'cloth under the name linen, from England.' Similarly, in an anonymous publication called 'The Plain Dealing Linen Draper', published in 1696, that included discussions on the types of linen sold, also contained descriptions of other fabrics such as CALICO and other Indian COTTONs. This is rather unexpected as the premise of this book was to educate on the quality and types of linen, to prevent customers being duped by unscrupulous retailers and wholesalers. That this work was addressed to both the wealthy and their social inferiors demonstrates that by the closing decade of the seventeenth century prices of coarser types of linen were affordable, in small quantities, by poorer consumers. The writer was quite explicit in this respect, writing that the 'Rich and Wealthy do often buy great quantities of Linnen, and so consequently, when they are deceived of great sums; and the Poor having but little Moneys to lay out, and that little perhaps, hath been saved out of their Families Bellies, to procure a little clean Linnen to put on their Backs, and if they are deceived of that, can by no means get more to supply themselves withal' [Anon (1696)].
The term linen was also used to denote CLOTHES (especially under garments and SHIRTs) and furnishings such as SHEETs, NAPERY, TABLE CLOTHs and NAPKINs; or strips of linen especially BANDAGEs, and, when used in the plural, grave cloths.
Found described as BRITISH, COARSE, common IRISH, FINE, FLANDERS, FOREIGN, GLAZED, NORTHERN, READY MADE, PRINT, TABLE, yarn Found used to make NIGHT SHIRTs, STOCKINGS Found describing THRUMs
Found rated by the ELL, PIECE, YARD
Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Rates, Recipes.
References: Anon (1696), Baines (1985, 1998 ed.), Collins (1994), De La Coux (1903), Kerridge (1984), Mitchell (1989), Montgomery (1984), Perkins (1853), Trinder and Cox (1980).
The term is found once in [Inventories (1625)], when there is no difficulty about the reading. However, until further information becomes available, it makes little sense since flax and linen were used synonymously.
David Yaxley suggests it was a PAN, sometimes with divisions, in which links of SAUSAGE were cooked', and gives an example dated 1734 [Yaxley (2003)]. The entry in the Dictionary Archive of '1 Link Pan a dust pan 1 Pewter Bason & Apple Roaster' [Inventories (1711)], could fit with this interpretation. However, another and earlier entry of 'A Candill Box & A Linkpan' [Inventories (1682)], suggests a pan in which to place LINKs or TORCHes, a rather different, alternative meaning.