Orange pea - Ostrich feather

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

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Orange pea

[orrange & orris peas]

This was the common name for an ISSUE PEA made from the young unripe fruit of the Curacoa, Aurantia Curassaventia, or other ORANGE, when dried and hardened. Orange peas were also used to flavour liqueurs. The dried ROUGH ORANGEs were then TURNED on a lathe to make them round and smooth [Newspapers (1790)]; [Ogilvie (1865)].

OED earliest date of use: 1857

Found described as FINE, for issues, TURNED Found under the proprietary name of GREENOUGH

See also ORRIS PEA.
Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Ogilvie (1865).

Orange peel

[orange-peel; orange, lemon and citron-peel; orange pill]

The peel of either SEVILLE ORANGES or CHINA ORANGES, depending for what purpose it was intended, though the sources rarely specify. The use of its Latin name, CORTEX AURANTIORUM, indicates it had medicinal uses. Peel does not keep well without treatment, and the market for oranges was seasonal. It was necessary, therefore, either to dry the peel or to candy it. In this form it was often referred to elliptically as CANDIED ORANGE. It was used for a variety of purposes, both culinary and medicinal. John Houghton commented that it was 'used much of late for a strong water; 'tis also used in medicine, sweet powders, and what not' [Houghton]. Plenty of recipes illustrate its use; for example, in a TINCTURE for seamen [Diaries (Turner)], in GINGERBREAD [Recipes (Crossman)], a confection called 'orange butter' and 'China chips' [Eales (1718, facs. 1985)].

OED earliest date of use: 1615

Found described as DRIED, not FRESH

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

Orange shrub

[orange rum shrub]

An alcoholic drink made from RUM or BRANDY or some other type of SPIRIT with ORANGE JUICE and SUGAR. In the recipe given by Eilizabeth Moxon, the oranges used were SEVILLE ORANGEs [Moxon (1769)]. Although straightforward to make at home, orange shrub, sometimes called 'Orange Rum Shrub' was well advertised in the newspapers in the eighteenth century, for example [Newspapers (1787)].

OED earliest date of use: 1764

Found described as CURIOUS, FINE
Found in units of GALLON

Sources: Newspapers.
References: Moxon (1769).

Orange tree

[orange-tree; orange and lemon-trees; orange and lemon trees]

Of the two species of ORANGE known in England at the time, the SEVILLE ORANGE was the hardier of the two. Both it and the CHINA ORANGE will grow in this country under glass if the temperature is not allowed to drop below 45 Fahrenheit in the winter. Under these coolish conditions oranges will only ripen in the second year. If more heat is provided, the fruits will ripen in the same year as the flowers. Either way the fruits have a better flavour than those imported [Synge (1951, new ed.1956)]. Samuel Pepys commented on the 'brave orange and lemon-trees' growing in Lord Wotton's garden [Diaries (Pepys)]. John Houghton admired some 'great old orange-trees' growing outside in Surrey, though the trees were apparently covered during winter. Apart from that and 'dunging and pruning' no protection appears to have been offered, but there was annually a 'great store of very good oranges'. Houghton also made it clear some trees were grown in this country commercially for the sake of the ORANGE FLOWERS as these would be available 'before new can come from abroad' [Houghton]. Orange trees were available for purchase in London by at least the mid-seventeenth century [Diaries (Moore)]. A hundred years later or so, one retail outlet was advertising trees 'In Pots from GENOA with good Heads, all properly budded for bearing Fruit' costing up to 18s each and costing up to 31s 6d for forcing [Tradecards (18c.)].]. By then, orange trees were sufficiently commonplace to be offered as items in household sales, for example [Newspapers (1770)].

OED earliest date of use: 1530

Found imported from the Straits by the CASE, CHEST

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Synge (1951, new ed.1956).

Orange vinegar


Not found in the OED online

Sources: Tradecards.

Orange water


The English name for AQUA AURANTIORUM. It may occasionally be a careless abbreviation of ORANGE FLOWER WATER.

Not found in the OED

Found imported by GALLON

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (late).



The usual meaning is of a place where the ORANGE TREE was grown. The term had a secondary meaning of any scent or PERFUME extracted from the ORANGE FLOWER, and more particularly a SNUFF perfumed this way [Tradecards (18c.)].

OED earliest date of use as a Snuff: 1698

Sources: Tradecards.

Orangery snuff

A scented SNUFF available commercially, but potentially also made at home if the recipe given in Richard Bradley's recipe book is anything to go by [Bradley (1736, facs. 1980)]. According to him, the snuff was made by layering 'Seville Snuff and Orange flowers' in a pot and pressing the mixture down. After 24 hours the snuff was sifted out, and the process repeated with fresh flowers twice more. He cautioned that wastage was considerable, which may explain ot does not appear to have been so freely available as other types.

OED earliest date of use: 1706 under Orangery

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Bradley (1736, facs. 1980).

Orground iron

Orground iron was a type of SWEDISH - BAR IRON that took its name from the Baltic port of Öregrund through which much of it was shipped. It enjoyed a superlative reputation on international markets and commanded a premium price above that of the standard brands of SWEDISH IRON.

Orground iron was made at fewer than twenty ironworks in the eastern county of Uppland, using a forge technique that had been introduced from Wallonia in the 1620s and melting iron made from the non-phosphoric ores of the giant Dannemora mine. Consumers in Britain differentiated between 'Orground Iron of the best Sort' and that of the '2d Sort' (to use the categories employed by the Navy Board, a major buyer). The 'best Sort' was made at just a handful of forges whose output could be recognised by the trademark stamped on each bar: the 'Hoop L' of Leufsta or the 'Bullets' of Österby.

The 'best Sort' of Orground iron was much coveted by STEEL makers who considered bars from Leufsta and her sister forges to be indispensable: 'no other marks will answer here for steel' [Prankard (mss), Graffin Prankard to Francis Jennings, 16 August 1732]. Its exceptional toughness was also esteemed by manufacturers of articles such as an ANCHOR, for whom durability was essential.

Not found in the OED online

Chris Evans

References: Barraclough (1984), 36-37, 173-79, 184-85, Hildebrand (1992), 54-70, Navy Board contract books, Prankard (mss).

Orient pearl

[orient pearle]

An oriental pearl or a pearl from the Indian seas, as distinguished from those of less beauty found in European mussels. The term is occasionally found in medicinal recipes, possibly to indicate a high quality pearl [Recipes (Berington)].

OED earliest date of use: 1140

Sources: Recipes.


[orriganu'; origanu']

Origanum is a genus of labiates, including MARJORAM and DITTANY OF CRETE

and should not be confused with OLIBANUM. In older herbals PENNYROYAL and other herbs were also included. Although rated throughout the early modern period and found in some shops, origanum was not included in the Materia Medica, at least by the mid-eighteenth century, which may explain why it is no longer found in the shops after 1700.

OED earliest date of use: 1265

Found in units of OZ, LB Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

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


A COTTON - TEXTILE, it probably took its name from the once famous city of Warrangal in Hyderabad. According to Milburn, it was imported from Madras and the surrounding coast of India and it was included by him among INDIAN - PIECE GOODS [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. Oringalls were defined as MUSLINs in 1700 [Acts (1700)]. If and when they were sold in the shops, this was probably under some generic term like muslin, since 'oringall' has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive except in the forementioned act.

Not found in the OED

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

Orleans plums

A variety of black-skinned, smallish, early PLUM, superceded by the modern 'Rivers' Early Prolific' and the Czar' [Masefield et al (1969)]. Orleans plum has been noted for sale, both as fresh fruit in a shop in London [Diaries (White)], and as a tree [Galpine (1983)].

OED earliest date of use: 1664 as Orleans

Sources: Diaries.
References: Galpine (1983), Masefield et al. (1969).


[orrice-root; orrice; orres; orisie; erious]

It is a common mis-spelling of ARRAS, as in 'twelve orrice & turkey Cushions' [Inventories (1667)], but correctly a plant of the genus Iris, especially Iris germanica and Iris florentina, the flower-de-luce. The dried and powdered ORRIS ROOT, more accurately the rhizome, was highly odiferous and much used in medicine and in PERFUMERY in such articles as ORRIS POWDER. In many contexts the term was used elliptically to refer either to the 'root' or to the powder, or to ORRIS LACE.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1626

Found in units of OUNCE, OZ, POUND

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

Orris lace

[orrice lace]

OED suggests that the origin of 'Orris' in this context is obscure; Caulfeild and Saward that it was a corruption of ARRAS.

In the eighteenth century, Orrice lace or ORRIS was a name given to LACE made with GOLD THREAD or SILVER THREAD. This was an expensive product; for example, '4 yrds ½ of Silv' Orris' valued at 4/6 per YARD [Inventories (1712)]. For this reason, there were cheaper imitations available, though in 1742 the sale was banned of any '... Gold or silver Orrice Lace, mixed with any other Metal or Material than Gold or Silver, Silk and Vellum [Acts (1742)]. By the late nineteenth century the name Orris was applied, not just to the luxury lace, but to almost any type of GALLOON used in UPHOLSTERY [Caulfeild and Saward (1885, facs.1989)].

OED earliest date of use: 1701

Found described as SILVER
Found in units of YARD

Sources: Acts, Inventories (late).
References: Caulfield & Saward (1885, facs.1989).

Orris pea

An ISSUE PEA in the form of a small globular body made of ORRIS root and placed in a surgical issue or other wound to encourage irritation and thereby to encourage a continued discharge of pus. Possibly the sweet-smelling orris was used in an attempt of counteract the evil smell of the discharge.

There is no dated use of this term in the OED, but a quotation which described orris being used for this purpose is dated 1657

Found described as for issues

Sources: Tradecards.

Orris powder

Dried and powdered ORRIS ROOT, which retained its sweet scent and so was used, for example, among stored linen. Orris powder was also a HAIR POWDER sweetly scented with orris. It has not been noted in the shops in either sense, but it was widely advertised by up-market retailers in the eighteenth century.

OED earliest date of use: 1602

Found described as PINK

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.

Orris root

[roots rhubarb orris; pack-thread; orris roote]

The rhizome of ORRIS, also known as IREOS. Unusually for 'roots' it was sweetly scented, a quality it retained even when dried and powdered. In this form it was used as ORRIS POWDER.

OED earliest date of use: 1598

Found in units of POUND

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).


A form of THROWN SILK not found in the dictionaries and in the Dictionary Archive only in the Book of Rates for 1657. Orsoy is a place in western Germany, but the other types of thrown silk listed with Orsoy in the entry 'Bastan, Vicentia, Orsoy, and Messina' are all probably positioned round the Mediterranean.

Not found in the OED

Found describing THROWN SILK Found rated by the SMALL POUND

Sources: Rates.

Osipium huirredum

[osippium huerridum]

A DRUG, found in the Books of Rates for 1657 [Rates (1657)] and 1660 [Rates (1660)] not yet identified.

Not found in the OED

Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Rates.


A superior quality of IRON from the Baltic. It was imported in very small BAR or ROD, which were imported and rated by the BARREL. Osmunds were used for FISH HOOKs, ARROW HEADs etc.

OED earliest date of use: 1240

Found rated by the LAST of 12 BARREL

Sources: Rates.


[ostridge; ostriche]

Often in this period in the form ESTRIDGE, the term refers to a very large flightless bird, Struthio camelus, inhabiting the sandy parts of Africa and Arabia. It is notable for its decorative feathers. 'Ostrich', or more commonly 'Estridge' was a term applied to some commodities, particularly WOOL from eastern countries. It may have been a corruption of 'Oesterreich', or Austrian.

OED earliest date of use: a1225 for the bird; 1449 meaning Eastern

Sources: Newspapers, Rates.

Ostrich feather

[ostridge feather; feathers estridg; feathers estrich; feather estrich; estrige fether; estridge fether]

The term refers to the large, curly decorative feathers taken from the wings and tail of the OSTRICH. In the early part of the period the form 'ESTRIDGE feather' was more common. Later the two forms seem to have been used interchangeably. They were much used for decorating the HATs of either sex. For example, the dictates of fashion in Septermber 1794 were set out in a provincial newspaper to be a 'Sky-blue beaver hat, trimmed round the crown with a broad purple ribband, forming a large bow in front - a large ostrich feather placed behind the bow, and inclining forwards' [Newspapers (1794)].

OED earliest date of use: 1460

Found imported by the LB Found rated by LB, POUND, TUFT

Sources: Houghton, Newspapers, Rates.