Opening comb - Orange oil

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

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Opening comb

[opening ditto]

The meaning is obscure, and the context unhelpful as the only example in the Dictionary Archive comes in the formidable list of articles sold by S. Bettison in the 1790s [Tradecards (1794)]. It was possibly a COMB that was hinged like a PEN KNIFE to fold into its own handle. A second possibility is what Cox calls an open-tail fork, in which the handle end has a split tail to facilitate rolling a curl by engaging the hair points in the split. However, although the function may have a much longer history, the term apparently dates from the mid-twentieth century [Cox (1966, pb 1969)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Cox (1966, pb 1989).

Opening troches

[opening trochiskes]

TROCHEs made up of ingredients that would act as an aperient, and probably similar to, though perhaps less violent than, the PURGING TROCHES found listed with them [Inventories (1637)].

Found in units of OZ

Sources: Inventories (early).



The term refered to anything that causes drowsiness or inaction, or reduces pain, and in this period it is probably that any opiate would have contained OPIUM. In the Dictionary Archive the term is often attached to the name of its producer; hence 'Delescott's Opiate, for preserving the Teeth and Gums' [Newspapers (1770)], and 'Warren's Royal Opiate for the Teeth' [Newspapers (1770)]. Both preparations were intended to relieve toothache and hopefully, but almost certainly vainly, to avert an extraction. The only other refererence in the Archive was an entry for '4 pound of opiated confections at 5s p li' [Inventories (1637)].

OED earliest date of use: 1543

As 'opiated confections': Found in units of POUND

Sources: Inventories (early), Newspapers, Tradecards.



The inspissated juice of a species of poppy, Papaver somniferum, obtained from the unripe capsules by incision and spontaneous evaporation, worked into cakes, balls, or sticks of a reddish-brown colour, heavy smell and bitter taste. It was not common in the shops despite its recognized value as a sedative and narcotic drug, as an stimulant and intoxicant in the East. The therapeutic use of opium became increasingly popular in the eighteenth century not only as an analgesic and narcotic, but also as a diaphoretic and remedy against diarrhoea, vomiting and cough. It was also considered useful in a number of nervous and mental disorders and as an external remedy. It was customary to combine it with caustics to alleviate the pain caused by the latter, particularly in the treatment of venereal disease, despite the lack of effectiveness. The addictive properties of opium were not widely appreciated before the nineteenth century.

OED earliest date of use: 1398

An important ingredient in LONDON TREACLE, MITHRIDATE, VENICE TREACLE Found described as Strained
Found in units of DRACHM Found imported by LB Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates, Recipes.



Originally the name given in the works of Paracelsus to medical plasters of various kinds. Later applied to various kinds of SOAP linaments. The original opodeldoc of the eighteenth-century Pharmacopoeia was a soft ointment, or in Latin UNGUENTUM, composed of 3 OZ of Soap dissolved in a PINT of alcohol, with an OZ of CAMPHOR, and small quantities of the Oils of ORIGANUM and ROSEMARY. It has been noted in the Dictionary Archive under the proprietary names 'Dr Steer's Opodeldoc', which was marketed iin the BOTTLE and recommended for chilblains [Newspapers (1790)], and 'the Royal Opodeldock Ointment', which was claimed to be 'the only Ointment that was ever yet prepared for Strains in Men, Horses, Dogs &c.' NEWSPAPERS MY1743ABG023].

OED earliest date of use: 1541 and 1722 respectively

Found in units of BOTTLE

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.


[opoponax; opoponacis; opopanix; opopan; opioponox; gum-opoponax; apoponax; apopomack]

A fetid GUM-RESIN obtained from the root of Opopanax chironium, a yellow-flowered umbelliferous plant, resembling a parsnip, and a native of Southern Europe. It was formerly of repute in medicine and found therefore in most APOTHECARY shops. It was an ingredient of MITHRIDATE and VENICE TREACLE. As 'English opoponax' the label was also applied to the juice obtained from LOVAGE (Levisticum officinale), but this has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive.

OED earliest date of use: 1400

Found in units of OZ Found as 'Gum Opopanax' among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

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


[orringe; orring; orrange; oringe; oring; orenge]

Orange is the name given to the FRUIT from several varieties of the Citrus genus. Citrus sinensis gives sweet oranges, generally called the CHINA ORANGES, known in this country at least since the mid seventeenth century, while Citrus aurantium gives the bitter SEVILLE ORANGES, which had been known for much longer. Both species are better suited to the Mediterranean region but it became fashionable to grow the ORANGE TREE in this country even though hardiness was doubtful. The resulting oranges were possibly better flavoured by comparison, since they could be picked when ripe and did not have to withstand a long voyage. Although oranges had a limited geographical market in England when John Houghton was writing, he did note that in LONDON they were 'carried in the eye of all about the streets, we see they are very much consumed by the ordinary people' [Houghton]. He argued that it was both unfamiliarity with the fruit, and the difficulty of transporting them to the provinces 'without great charge, and the rotting of many', that prevented more widespread availability. In the same letter he made the further point that damaged oranges, like other products past their best, were sold very cheaply in the capital, effectively reducing the potential loss merchants of a slow market would otherwis have to face [Houghton]; [Houghton].

Houghton, however, was not entirely right in his analysis of the market in the provinces. Oranges were available in some shops even before 1600, for example [Inventories (1592)]. Evidence in one probate inventory even suggests that oranges may have been available in the streets of Shrewsbury along with other typical products sold that way [Inventories (1669)]. Nevertheless, at least one northern housewife felt it necessary to order them from London [Diaries (Fell)] and the record of 'orringes and leemons being frost bitten' [Inventories (1688)], show that keeping the stock free from harm posed a problem. After 1700, oranges in the shops became fairly common, and some held quite large stocks, for example [Inventories (1740)]; [Inventories (1790)].

While the market in the provinces struggled to supply at a price most could afford, the well-to-do were making oranges part of life. Samuel Pepys recounted many tales; of 'Mrs Jennings, one of the Duchess's maids' dressing herself up 'like an orange wench' to the amusement of all [Diaries (Pepys)], of the expense (and apparently the perceived necessity) of buying oranges at the theatre at 6d apiece [Diaries (Pepys)], and the purchase of oranges and oysters for a supper party [Diaries (Pepys)]. In the eighteenth century, both Italian warehousemen and seedsmen used the orange or the orange tree in their shop signs, for example by Barto Valle and brothers in Haymarket (1751) [Heal (1957, new ed. 1988)], while another retailer actually called his premises the 'Orange Shop near the Jack of Newbury' [Newspapers (1709)]. Later in the century a foreign visitor commented how 'pyramids of apples and oranges' were used by confectioners as part of a display that dazzled the eye [Diaries (Lichtenberg)].

The products made from oranges and ORANGE FLOWER were far more important than the fruits themselves and the range is indicated in the list of imports in the 1690s given by John Houghton [Houghton]. The most important were ESSENCE OF ORANGES, ORANGE OIL and ORANGE PEEL. More were processed in this country, while the recipe books show that housewives too preserved oranges in the form of MARMALADE and CANDIED ORANGE in variety. Oranges were also used in LIQUEURS and similar alcoholic drinks. These were sometimes given a French name, as in 'Creme de fine Orange' [Tradecards (1800)].

Orange was not a particularly popular colour during the period, though various items including TEXTILEs, CERAMICs and HABERDASHERY were so described.

OED earliest date of use: 13--

Found in units of BOX, CHEST, CWT, LB, QUARTER Found imported from the Guernsey, Portugal, Straits, Spain Found rated by M, THOUSAND Found measured by the CASE, CHEST

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Enys (n.d.), 114 (1705), Heal (1957, new ed. 1988), Simmonds (1904), II, 259, Oxford food plants, 84-5, Toussaint-Samat (1987).

Orange chips

[orange chipps]

Orange chips were what we would now called CANDIED - ORANGE PEEL. Mrs Eales gave instructions on making 'China chips', and the only difference between them and modern candied peel is that the rind for the older version was cut in 'long chips, but very thin, with none of the White'. Although Mrs Ealse recipe suggested the use of CHINA ORANGES, she also said that SEVILLE ORANGES 'would do the same Way, if you like them with a little Sugar, and very bitter [Eales (1718, facs. 1985)].

OED earliest date of use: 1769

Found used to make 'Orange Chips Syrup' Found in units of CWT, QUARTER, LB

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Eales (1718, facs. 1985).

Orange flower

[orange-flower; orange-flower; fleurs d'orange; fleur d'orange]

The white flower of the ORANGE TREE was used in PERFUMERY to make, for example, ORANGE FLOWER BUTTER, ORANGE FLOWER POWDER, ESSENCE of ORANGE FLOWER, NEROLI OIL and ORANGE FLOWER WATER. They were also used in cooking; for example, Mrs Eales gave a recipe 'To candy Orange-flowers' [Eales (1718, facs. 1985)] and Mrs Kettilby one to 'To make a Marmalade' [Recipes (Ketilby)]. Orange flowers were also used in LIQUEURS and similar alcoholic drinks. These were sometimes given a French name, as in 'Creme Royale de Fleurs d'Orange au vin de Champagne' and 'Syrop a la Fleur D'orange' [Tradecards (1800)].

In 1705 the Cornish merchant, Valentine Enys, complained that he was unable to purchase dried orange flowers alias 'asajar' 'for ladies' use to scent their clothes' [Enys (1997)], and in so doing he revealed where some came from and how some were given an extended life by drying. John Houghton, possibly also highlighting the difficulties of imported supplies, when he wrote that some grew ORANGE TREEs in this country specifically for their flowers, making thereby ' a great deal of money' [Houghton].

Note that in recipes the petals were usually referred to as 'leaves', for example [Recipes (Bradley, R.)].

OED earliest date of use: 1626

Found described as DRY
Found in units of OZ Found imported by C

See also CREME.
Sources: Houghton, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Eales (1718, facs. 1985), Enys (1997).

Orange flower butter

[orange jessamy and rose butter; orange butter; orange and jessamin butter]

Probably a purified BUTTER made by allowing SWEET BUTTER to melt in the sun and to re-solidify, and repeating the process until the butter turned white. The product was called 'May butter' or 'BUTIRUM Majale'. It was used as an UNGUENT, but was never of much importance in medicine [OED, Butter]. However, when grease for the hair became fashionable, it may have been used as the foundation of a product scented with ORANGE FLOWER similar to ORANGE FLOWER POMATUM, though LARD is a possible alternative. The single reference to 'Orange butter' in the Dictionary Archive [Newspapers (1770)], was almost certainly made with orange flowers, and was not the confection called 'Orange butter' by Mrs Eales [Eales (1718, facs. 1985)].

John Houghton suggested that some ORANGE TREEs were grown commercially in this country in order to have the flowers 'to make some butter ... to help at a dead lift', that is when imports were unavailable [Houghton].

Not found in the OED

Found described as NEW

Sources: Houghton, Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Eales (1718, facs. 1985).

Orange flower candy

An unusual SWEET MEAT flavoured with ORANGE FLOWER. Orange flowers gave off a strong scent important in PERFUMERY, but only one example of their culinary use in the Dictionary Archive has been noted [Inventories (1740)]. However, Mrs Eales gave a recipe 'To candy Orange-flowers' [Eales (1718, facs. 1985)].

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Eales (1718, facs. 1985).

Orange flower ointment

[orange-flower oyntment; orange flower oyntment]

An OINTMENT made from ORANGE FLOWER. It has been noted in the Book of Rates of 1657 [Rates (1657)], but not in the shops, though it may be the same as UNGUENTUM AUREUM.

Not found in the OED

Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Rates.

Orange flower pomatum

A POMATUM scented with ORANGE FLOWER. This preparation was probably substantially the same as ORANGE FLOWER BUTTER and ORANGE FLOWER OINTMENT, though it may have had a different base.

Sources: Tradecards.

Orange flower powder

[orange-flower powder]

A POWDER, most probably a HAIR POWDER perfumed with ORANGE FLOWER.

Sources: Tradecards.

Orange flower water

[water orange flower; oringe flower water; oring flower water; orange-flower-water; orange-flower water; orange, rose, or clear water; orange rose or clear water; orange flower ditto; orange flower and rose-water; orange flower and rose water; ditto orange flower]

There were two meanings to the term. The first was the aqueous solution of ORANGE FLOWERS, that is the fragrant watery distillate left after the preparation of NEROLI OIL from the blossoms of SEVILLE ORANGES. It was used extensively in TOILETRY and PERFUMERY. The second is a distillation or CORDIAL made from orange blossom and used medicinally or as a pleasant drink. Unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, it is the first of these two meanings that is found in the Dictionary Archive, though the orange-flower-water added to CHOCOLATE by some according to John Houghton[Houghton], is probably of the latter type. He claimed it gave the chocolate 'a most excellent taste' [Houghton].

'Orange water' has been noted in [Houghton] and [Inventories (1708)], which is probably the same.

OED earliest date of use: 1591

Found described as BEST Found used to make LOZENGEs Found in units of QUART Found imported by CHEST, GALLON, JAR Found among the DRUGS in the Rate Books rated by the GALLON

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Newspapers, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.

Orange juice

[juice of oranges; juce of oring]

Orange juice was probably not available commercially for sale unprocessed. The editors of Pepys Diary believe it was drunk but rarely at the time when in 1669 he drank about a pint, commenting 'here they drink the juice as wine, with sugar, and it is very fine drink; but, it being new, I was doubtful whether it might not do me hurt' [Diaries (Pepys)]; [Pepys (1971-1983)]. It is just possible that Pepys was in fact drinking a weak version of ORANGE SHRUB. The single entry noted of orange juice in a retailer's stock [Inventories (1682)] must have been processed in some way or it would not have been included in the inventory as it would not have kept.

OED earliest date of use: 1838

Found in units of LB

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (mid-period).
References: Pepys (1971-1983).

Orange necklace

[oringe necklace]

Two examples of orange NECKLACEs appeared among the stock of retailers at a time when the ORANGE itself was becoming increasingly available and fashionable [Inventories (1679)]; [Inventories (1682)]. It is possible that these were records merely of necklaces coloured orange, but it remains at least a possibility that each bead was in the form of an orange, reflecting the growing interest in the fruit at the time.

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Orange oil

[orange, jessamine, and perfumed oil; orange jessamine and perfumed oils; oil of oranges]

The OED suggests that this term was applied to the ESSENTIAL OIL distilled from ORANGE PEEL. This may well be what was intended in some cases, but the contexts of some of the examples in the Dictionary Archive suggest that it may have been used also in the early modern period for NEROLI OIL. In the late-seventeenth century, John Houghton's lists of imports show that a small quantity of oil of oranges was imported from Holland, used according to him chiefly 'as a scent to pomatum' [Houghton]. In Latin, orange oil was labelled OLEUM AURANTIORUM. Another type of oil, called 'Oil of petit grain', was distilled from the leaves [Leyel (1937, pb 1987)].

OED earliest date of use: 1863

Found imported from Holland by the GALLON Found among the DRUGS in the 1784 Rate Book, rated by the POUND

Sources: Houghton, Rates.
References: Leyel (1937, pb 1987).