Niccanee - Nitre lozenges

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

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'Nicannees' in other sources, this is a kind of TEXTILE included by Milburn among INDIAN - PIECE GOODS formerly imported from Bombay and Surat in India [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. Florence Montgomery suggests it was a cheap striped CALICO, mainly bought for the Slave market [Montgomery (1984)], but its importation was seen as a threat to British manufacture and it was therefore banned for home use from 1700 onwards. Like many imports from India, niccanee seems to have been a name deemed unacceptable to the buying public, so that if and when it was offered for sale in the shops during the seventeenth century it must have been under some generic term like CALICO.

OED earliest date of use: 1712

Found described as LARGE, SMALL

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


The name of two medieval authorities on medicine still referred to in the early-modern period. Both probably flourished in the fifteenth century, the one in Italy, the other in France. The former, Nicolaus de Salerno wrote a treatise on antidotes, the latter, Nicolaus præpositus of Tour, a Dispensary among other works [Pemberton (1746)].

Found describing DIASATYRION

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Pemberton (1746).

Night cap

[night-capp; nightcapp; night-cap; nightcap; night capp]

A covering for the head, varying from the plain to the fancy, worn mostly by men indoors, but not necessarily in bed. Although nightcaps were not intended for public display, they cound be very decorative and fashionable.They have been noted in the shops associated with CUFFs.

OED earliest date of use: 1386

Found rated by the DOZEN

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

Night ear ring

The only example noted in the Dictionary Archive appears in an act regulating the quality of metal used in various pieces of JEWELLERY, from which provisions 'jointed Night Ear Rings of Gold' were specifically excluded [Acts (1739)]. Apart from that information, and the name itself, no information has been found about their nature.

Not found in the OED

Found described as Jointed Found made of GOLD

Sources: Acts.

Night gown

[nightgowne; night-gown; nightgown]

A loose GOWN, it was specially used for putting on at or during the night in place of the ordinary clothes. Night gowns were worn by both men and women and, although informal wear, they could still be fashionable.

OED earliest date of use: 1400

Found described as BLACK, BLUE, furred with lamb, LADIES, MENs, NEW, with RUFFLEs, STRIPED

See also NIGHT RAIL.
Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Newspapers, Tradecards.

Night rail

An article of APPAREL, a loose wrap, dressing JACKET or dressing GOWN, worn by women when in undress. They were imported from India and the Far East, probably as pieces of COTTON CLOTH of an appropriate length for making up. It was defined as MUSLIN in an act of 1700 [Acts (1700)].

OED earliest date of use: 1554

See also NIGHT GOWN.
Sources: Acts.

Night ribbon

A night RIBBON was possibly one PERFUMEd and worn at night to induce sleep, like the HOP pillow today. The only example in the Dictionary Archive was listed under 'WORK BASKETS and BAGS' along with SWEET BAG, GARTER, PINCUSHION and SATIN work CUSHION [Tradecards (1790s)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.

Nightshade water

The Deadly Nightshade, Atropa belladonna, is a well known and deadly poison, so much so that John Gerard recommended that you 'banish it from your gardens, and the use of it also' [Gerard (1597, 1985 ed.)]. On the other hand, what Nicholas Culpeper called the 'Common Nightshade', Solanum nigrum, was deemed 'a cold Saturnine plant', but one that is in 'no ways dangerous'. He suggested that a DISTILLED water of the whole plant was 'fittest and fastest to be taken inwardly' to cool 'hot inflammations' [Culpeper (1792)].

However, one use today of atropine, which is the active ingredient of Atropa belladonna, is to dilate the pupil of the eye, and it is believed by some that its alternative name of belladonna, Italian for 'beautiful lady', was given precisely because it was used as a cosmetic for this purpose, with sometimes fatal consequences.

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Culpeper (1792), Gerard (1597, modern ed. 1985).


[nine-pin; ninepin; nine pins]

A game described by Randle Holme as 'a fine recreation and is much for the exercise of the body' [Holme (2000)]. According to him it was played with nine pins 'set in a square three euery way, so fare asunder that a bowle may any way run betweene them and not much more', plus a tenth called the 'Margery', which was 'a peg set at a distance from the nyne pins'. This explains one entry in the Dictionary Archive of 'A Sett of Ten Pins & A Bowle' [Inventories (1715)]. The aim was to hit the pins by rolling a ball called a BOWL at them down an alley (hence 'Nine-pin Alley' [Newspapers (1751)], the king, or central one scoring most so long as none other was hit at the same time. As well as being a game to play outside or in an alley, ninepins was adapted to play indoors, hence the entry in one catalogue of 'Ivory and Bone Nine Pins for a Room' and 'Painted Nine Pins' [Tradecards (1794)].

OED earliest date of use: 1580

Found described as PAINTED Found made of BONE, IVORY

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Holme (2000).

Nitre lozenges

NITRE lozenges were probably offered only for medicinal use, perhaps for disorders of the throat. The SUGAR in them may have gone some way to hide the taste [Tradecards (1800)].

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of small BOX

See also LOZENGE.
Sources: Tradecards.