Neck band - Newcastle measure

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

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Neck band

[neckband; neck bond]

Collar of LINEN worn during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries about the neck of a SHIRT or SMOCK. They were often listed in the shops merely as BANDs, hence the relative rarity in the Dictionary Archive for an article of APPAREL that was widely worn and equally widely for sale in the shops.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1530

It was also an item of HARNESS and was probably an alternative name for a throat band or throat latch [Inventories (1685)]. This was a strap passing under the horse's throat that helps to keep the bridle in position.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1446

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).

Neck chain

Either a NECKLACE or a decorative CHAIN for wearing round the neck from which to suspend an ornament like a LOCKET.

OED online earliest date of use: 1576

Sources: Tradecards.

Neck loop

Rarely found in this precise form, but more commonly as 'neck buttons and loops', BUTTONs were normally fixed with loops rather than with button holes. For this reason LOOP LACE (without any descriptor) is common and usually listed with, or immediately after, buttons. Neck loops and buttons were designed for neckware such as a GORGETTE, a NECKBAND or a NECKERCHIEF. Such small items of HABERDASHERY were widely available and sold ready-made.

Not found in the OED

Found described as OLD, WOOL

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Caulfield & Saward (1885, 1989 ed.).

Neck scarf

A SCARF designed to be worn round the neck, rather than the one worn round the waist or passing from one shoulder diagonally across the front and the back to be tied at the waist.

OED earliest date of use: 1859

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).


[neckclothe; neckcloath]

An article of CLOTHING in the form of a cloth, often of MUSLIN, worn round the neck like a CRAVAT or NECKERCHIEF. They were imported in large quantities from India and the Far East, either READY MADE, or in the form of a COTTON fabric, from which they were made, and from GERMANY and HOLLAND in the form of various LINEN CLOTHs. In 1682/3 Houghton recorded that nearly 26,000 were imported into London alone.Neckcloths were defined as a MUSLIN by an act of 1700 [Acts (1700)] and therefore attracted heavy duties when imported, although various types were subsequently exempted. An act regulating the Scottish linen industry included linen of sufficient length to make 12 neckcloths [Acts (1711)]. The term may occasionally have been abbreviated to 'neck', although one entry has 'neck and neckcloth', suggesting the two were sometimes at least distinct [Inventories (1728)].

OED earliest date of use: 1639

Found describedas black fringed, COARSE, COMMON, EMBROIDERED, FLOWERED, long, MENs, night, ORDINARY, PLAIN, run, STRIPED, striped at the ends only Found made of CALICO, CAMBRIC, GHENTING, KENTING, KENTISH, LINEN, MUSLIN, SILK
Found imported from GERMANY, HOLLAND, SILESIA Found measured by the DOZEN, PIECE

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


[nickercher; neckerchef; neckercheef; neck carshaff; neck carchaff]

A kerchief worn about the neck., and although such articles of APPAREL continued to be worn throughout the period, they were increasingly labelled a neck HANDKERCHIEF.

OED earliest date of use: 1380

Found described as of FLANDERS making, GENTLEMEN Found describing CLASP
Found rated by the DOZEN

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Rates, Tradecards.


Cameos carved in lava became popular under Napoleon, and it may be something of this sort that is referred to in the only reference to a necklava in the Dictionary Archive: 'Sleeve-knots and Necklavas' [Tradecards (18c.)]. What ever it was, whether it was made of lava or flowed down like molten lava, it appears to have been intended as a decoration to be worn round, or falling from, the neck.

Not found in the OED

Found associated with SLEEVE KNOT, STOMACHER

Sources: Tradecards.

Needle box

[neel box; nedell boxe; box w'th needles; box of needdels; box for needles]

Possibly synonymous with NEEDLE CASE, but a needle box has been noted in one shop apparently to store the entire stock of needles [Inventories (1587)]. The 'small boxes & j C million nedells' in another shop supports this interpretation [Inventories (1589)]. However, other examples appear more nearly to resemble a needle case in function, though made in the form of a decorative BOX.

Not found in the OED

Found described by IVORY, LARGE, PAINTED
Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).



The form 'Neganepaut' is found in other sources, which is probably nearer to the original in so far as the ending is almost certainly from the Hindi term 'Pat' meaning 'a piece'. A kind of TEXTILE, it is included among East Indian PIECE GOODS formerly imported from Bombay and Surat during the eighteenth century [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. Its importation was seen as a threat to British manufacture and was therefor banned for home use though it continued for re-export to Africa [Acts (1766)].

OED earliest date of use: 1725

Sources: Acts.
References: Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).

Neroli oil

Neroli oil is said to have been named after an Italian princess to whom the discovery of this PERFUME is attributed. It is the name given to the ESSENTIAL OIL distilled from the ORANGE FLOWER with water. It is colourless when fresh, but turns red on exposure to light [Lloyd (1895)]. The fragrant watery distillate remaining is ORANGE FLOWER WATER and smells rather different. Neroli oil is used in EAU DE COLOGNE [Leyel (1937, pb 1987)].

OED earliest date of use: 1676

References: Leyel (1937, pb 1987), Lloyd (1895).


[nesste; neast]

A set or series of similar objects, especially of such as are contained in the same receptacle, or are so made that each smaller one is enclosed in or fits into that which is next in size to it. According to the OED, nests of GOBLETs were common in the sixteenth century, but only one example has been noted in the Dictionary Archive; 'A neste of goblettis' [Inventories (1541)]. Another uncommon set is found in the 'ij nests old graters' [Inventories (1583)]. Much more common throughout the period were articles of furniture, usually found in shops, such as the NEST OF BOXES and the NEST OF DRAWERS.

OED earliest date of use: 1524

Found used in connection with articles such as CABINET, CHEST, COFFER, COUNTER, DRAW BOX, GOBLET, HAMPER, SHELF

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

Nest of boxes

[patch and paint boxes; nists of boxes; nests of boxses; nests of boxis; nest's of boxes; nests of boxes; nests of box__; nestes of small boxes; nestes of boxses; nestes of boxes; nestes boxes; neste of drawinge boxes; neste of boxes; nest-boxes; nest of small boxes; nest of red boxes; nest of paynted boxes; nest of litle boxes; nest of great wt' boxes; nest of fine boxes; nest of drawe boxes; nest of drawboxes; nest of draw boxes; nest of boxses; nest of boxs; nest of boxis; nest of black boxes; nest boxes; nest box; nessts of mermelett boxes; nessts of marmelett boxes; nessts of longe wt' boxes; nesstes of painted boxes; nese boxes; nes of boxes; neestes of boxes; neest of boxes; neasts of boxes; neast of small boxes; neast of large boxes; neast of boxes; nast boxes; boxes in a nest]

A set or series of BOXes contained within the same receptacle or, alternatively, a set or series of boxes nesting one within the other. Nests of boxes were common in shops, sometimes with the individual boxes painted a different colour to facilitate ordering and finding articles for sale. One apothecary, for example, had four nests with respectively uncoloured, green, blue, and yellow boxes [Inventories (1665)], a system that must have made the shop look quite colourful. They were particularly common among haberdashers and grocers and similar retailers who sold a plethora of SMALL WARE. The number of boxes in a nest varied; one retailer had four nests, the one of 20 large boxes, another of 48 small boxes, as well as two others of size unspecified containing respectively 96 and 70 [Inventories (1700)].

A quotation (1660) in the OED suggests that a nest-box could be 'a box containing others of graduated sizes contained within a nest'. The context of one example in the Dictionary Archive of 'Painted Nest Boxes' suggests they may have been of this type [Tradecards (1794)]. The entry in the Book of Rates of 1784 of 'Nest Boxes, the Gross containing Twelve Dozen Nests, each Nest containing Eight Boxes' [Rates (1784)] may also have been of this type.

OED earliest date of use: 1658

Found described as broken, GREAT, LARGE, LITTLE, Long, PAINTED, SMALL The Boxes found described as BLACK, BLUE, Draw, GREAT, GREEN, PAINTED, RED, SMALL, WHITE, YELLOW Found rated by the GROSS of 12 DOZEN nests, each nest of 8 BOX

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Tradecards.

Nest of drawers

[nests small drawers; nests of drawers; nest oke drawers; nest of shop-drawers; nest of little drawers; nest of draws; nest draw'rs; neest of drawers]

To some extent this term, or perhaps the article itself, replaced the NEST OF BOXES. The nest of drawers was a set or series of DRAWERs contained with a CASE or NEST. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was usually case of small drawers or tills, but during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the term came to be applied to a group of drawers on a WRITING DESK or DRESSING TABLE. Most nests of drawers in the Dictionary Archive were part of the essential equipment of a shop, hence the advertisement for the sale of 'Nests of Drawers, and all other Kinds of necessary Implements in the Grocery Business' [Newspapers (1790)]. However, they are also to be found in a domestic setting, like the 'small nest of draw'rs on a frame w'th a Carpet' valued in all at 20s [Inventories (1666)].

OED earliest date of use: 1704

Margaret Ponsonby

Found described as on a frame, with GLASS frame, SMALL

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers.

Nest of trunks

[nests of trunks]

A set of three to four TRUNKs made to sit one inside another, facilitating storage when empty. 'Gilded nests of trunks' appears to have been one of the many types of lidded container made by London TRUNK makers [Tradecards (1762)], apparently designed for export. Why some were GILDED is not clear, but it suggests that the trunks themselves were decorative and were intended for trade abroad, and not just as convenient containers for transportation.They have also been noted described as of HAIR [Tradecards (18c.)].

Not found in the OED

Margaret Ponsonby

Found described as for Exportation, GILDED
Found imported in sets called nests

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (mid-period), Tradecards.


The common nettle, Urtica dioica, which grows profusely on waste land and cultivated ground alike, and and is noted for the stinging property of its leaf hairs. Its SEED was early used in MEDICINE; hence the quotation dated 1539 and cited by the OED, 'Sympel medicines..valeriane, Cole Sede, dille sede, nettel sede'. Nettle seeds have been found only once in the Dictionary Archive, listed among PHYSICAL HERB seeds coupled surprisingly with FENUGREEK [Tradecards (19c.)]. Although Nicholas Culpeper suggested uses for all parts of the plant, he wrote most of the seed. It provokes urine, but more importantly 'the seed being drunk, is a remedy against the bites of mad dogs, the poisonous qualities of HEMLOCK, HENBANE, NIGHTSHADE, MANDRAKE, or such herbs as stupify the senses' [Culpeper (new ed.)]. Nettles were not used in orthodox medicine. Nettle stems are similar in structure to FLAX or HEMP and were used, though less commonly, in the same way. SCOTCH CLOTH was originally made of nettles.

OED online earliest date of use: c725 under Nettle

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Culpeper (modern edition).

Nettle cloth


A TEXTILE made of the fibres found in the stalks of the NETTLE. It was also a name given to COTTON CLOTH or CALICO. In the only examples noted in the Dictionary Archive, both in the same shop, there is no indication of which type was meant except in the valuation. The cloth was very cheap, being valued at only 3d a YARD or an ELL, so the former is more likely [Inventories (1679)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1539

Found in units of ELL, YARD

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Newcastle measure


The measure for COAL originating in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The most significant is the Newcastle CHALDER or CHALDRON. This by 1695 had been standardized to72 heaped BUSHEL, about twice that of the ENGLISH chalder [Zupko (1968)].

OED earliest date of use: 1706

Found describing CHALDER Found applied to COAL, CULM

Sources: Acts, Rates.
References: Zupko (1968).