Pine - Pitchfork

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

This free content was born digital. All rights reserved.


In this section


Any species of the coniferous genus PINUS, which affords TIMBER, TAR, TURPENTINE or PINE KERNELS. The native species is the Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris, but by 1700 if not earlier, the huge forests of it in Scotland had been decimated so that there was insufficient to supply the demands of trade, and in particular of the navy. Suitable TIMBER had therefore to be imported, either from the Baltic, or from North America. Here the virgin forest was able to provide splendid trees of noble stature, although these were being wantonly squandered by settlers with little regard for future generations. Parliament tried to guard against these depredations for other purposes by various statutes, including one passed in 1710 enacting that no 'Pine Tree fit for Masts', which were more than 24 inch in diameter 12 inch from the ground were to be felled without licence [Acts (1710)]. The act is also interesting because it highlighted the problems of transporting these huge trunks by any other means but water when it commented that 'White and other Pine Trees ... fit for Masts ... growing near the Sea, and on navigable Rivers, may commodiously be brought into this Kingdom'.

Pine was undoubtedly used to make furniture, but it was rarely so called; only one example has been noted in the Dictionary Archive - and that from an American household. In a probate inventory dated 1809, 'a small mahogany table' was valued at 17s 6d, while one of pine rated only 5s [Inventories (1809)].

Pine trees had other uses apart form as timber. They exuded valuable RESIN from which TURPENTINE and TAR could be produced, and a VARNISH made [Patents (1754)], and the new shoots were believed to have medicinal properties and were used to treat scurvy and gravel in the kidneys. According to Nicholas Culpeper, the Scots pine owed 'its existence in this country to the curious, who plant it for its beauty and ornament' [Culpeper (new ed.)]. Pine trees were offered for sale by nurseries as in the advertisement 'ready to plant out, consisting of a variety of Pines and Firs' [Newspapers (1798)]. The term was also used elliptically for PINE KERNELS and so rated in the Book of Rates of 1582 [Rates (1582)].

OED earliest date of use: c1000

As TIMBER or WOOD: Found describing TABLE, VARNISH
As PINE KERNELS: Found rated by the POUND

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (late), Patents, Rates.
References: Culpeper (new ed.).

Pine kernels

[pynne carnells; pine kernells]

Although the term is applied to the seed of any PINE, especially when edible, in trade then as now, it probably most often referred to that of the Stone pine, Pinus pinea, a native of the Mediterranean region [Masefield et al (1969)]. The kernels had a wide use in cooking, both sweet and savoury, and in CONFECTIONERY and APOTHECARY. In consumptions and after long illnesses, pine kernels were regarded as a restorative, and given in an emulsion beaten up with BARLEY WATER [Illustrated Herbal (online)]. The same preparation was used to relieve the heat of the urine and other disorders of the urinary passages. Sometimes referred to simply as PINE, as perhaps in the Books of Rates.

OED earliest date of use: 1598

Found in units of OZ

See also PINE.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Illustrated Herbal (online), Masefield et al. (1969).

Pine strawberry

[pine-strawberries; pine strawberries]

A variety of STRAWBERRY introduced in the eighteenth century, larger than those hitherto grown, so called because it was flavoured like a PINEAPPLE. Its origins are obscure. In the Oxford Book of Food Plants it is identified as the Chile strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis, but Vilmorin suggested it was a hybrid with that and others already in cultivation since the Chilean species is barely hardy in European latitudes. Compared with the earlier-known cultivars, including the Alpine strawberry, Fragaria vesca semperflorens, a native of Europe, the American introduction was markedly superior in all aspects, except perhaps in taste [Masefield et al (1969)]; [Vilmorin-Andrieux (1885 Eng. ed.)]. According to George White, these 'Large American straw-berries are hawked about which the sellers call pine-strawberries. But these are oblong, & of a pale red; where as the true pine or Drayton straw-berries are flat, & green: yet the flavour is very quick, & truly delicate. The American new sorts of straw-berries prevail so much, that the old scarlet, & hautboys are laid aside, & out of use' [Diaries (White)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1860 when called 'Pineapple strawberry', under Strawberry

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Masefield et al. (1969), Vilmorin-Andrieux (1885 English ed.).


[pine-apple; pineaple; pine apple]

A name originally given to a pine cone, but transferred to the juicy, edible FRUIT of the south American tropical plant, Ananas comosus. The transference was partly due to the similarity in shape, but also because of the Spanish name for the fruit, which was Pina. The pineapple is a large collective fruit developed from a cone of flowers and surmounted by a crown of small leaves. Although native to south America, it is widely cultivated in tropical regions. It is relatively easy to grow in this country under glass [Masefield et al (1969)]. Pineapples were first introduced into this country in the mid-seventeenth century, when it excited much interest. Anne Wilson quotes John Woolidge, who wrote in 1676, of the fruit as 'of so delicious a taste that it exceeds all other dainties' [Wilson (1973)]. They were grown initially as fashionable adornments in the country estates of the landed classes. Pineapples were used to make TARTs and MARMALADE.

During the eighteenth century both fruit and plants were available in the shops. The context suggests that the 'pineaple' listed among the goods of a Confectioner in 1740, was a fresh fruit, but it may have been an iconic sign of status [Inventories (1740)], as pineapples were so used by confectioners and nurserymen [Heal (1957, new ed. 1988)]. One nursery advertised 'ix Score Pine-Apple Plants, from one to three years old' [Newspapers (1760)], the last presumably near to fruiting. One retailer offered pineapple CHEESE for sale, though it is not known what made it distinctive, and whether it was a cheese that contained pineapple pieces or that was otherwise flavoured with pineapple [Tradecards (1800)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1664; but 1398 as a pinecone

Found described as royal Found describing CHEESE, plants

Sources: Diaries.
References: Heal (1957, new ed. 1988), Masefield et al. (1969), Wilson (1973).


In spelling it is interchangeable with PINNION.

A small cog wheel the teeth of which engage with a larger one, also a spindle or axle having cogs or teeth that engage with a wheel. As a 'rack and pinion', a bar, straight or slightly curved, with teeth on one edge to engage with those on a pinion. This is designed to convert linear into circular motion or vice versa as in 'Pinion and rack for pumps' [Patents (1776)].

OED earliest date of use: 1659

Sources: Acts, Patents, Tradecards.


[pinke; pinck; pinc]

Pink was a label attached to several commodities, but most commonly to various species in the genus Dianthus, a favourite garden plant originating in eastern Europe. The flowers come in various shades running from white to red, and from this Pink has developed as the name of a colour somewhere intermediate between the two.

Confusingly, pink was also a label attached to a yellowish or greenish yellow pigment or LAKE obtained by a combination of a vegetable colouring matter with some white base such as a metallic oxide or SPANISH WHITE. Brown pink is derived from FRENCH BERRIES, DUTCH PINK, and ENGLISH and ITALIAN pink from QUERCITRON bark. It is not clear whether pink was used in this respect as a colour of, for example, textiles. If it were so used, it is difficult now to identify with any certainty which of the two colours were intended in any example unless further detail is given as in 'a payr of pink scarlet stockings for my girle' [Diaries (Burrell)] or 'Six yards pink in graine Callicoe at 10d' [Inventories (1682)]. The advertisement for NANKEEN dye that produced colours from 'a beautiful fawn colour or pale pink to a rich buff, or a bright orange' [Tradecards (1790)], possibly referred to the second colour. The OED has the same difficulty, having several citations dating from 1681 that could be either. As a colour pink has also been noted as used to describe a COW [Inventories (1801)], and HOOP for use in COOPERY [Inventories (1720)].

OED earliest date of use: 1573 as a flower; 1821 as a colour matching the flower; 1634 as a yellowish colour

Found in units of OZ

See also PINKED.
Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.


[pinkt; pincke]

Taken from pinking, this was a decorative pattern of small holes or slits made in fabric and LEATHER, or the raw edge of fabric cut in zig-zags or scallops. The purpose was often partly to show a contrasting fabric underneath as in 'a long cassocke close to the body, of black cloth, and pinked with white silk under it' [Diaries (Pepys)]. The technique was not universally popular. For example in 1666 Samuel Pepys recorded that 'they say the King says the pinking upon whites makes them look too much like magpies, and, therefore, hath bespoke one of plain velvet' [Diaries (Pepys)].

OED earliest date of use: 1591

Found describing HOLLAND, TABBY

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

Pinking mallet

A TOOL presumably for use with a pinking iron, a sharp instrument for cutting out PINKED borders.

Not found in the OED online

See also PINKED.
Sources: Tradecards.


[pinn'r; pinn'er; piner]

A COIF with two long flaps, one on each side, pinned on and hanging down, and sometimes fastened at the breast. Pinners were worn by WOMEN, especially those of rank, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The label was sometimes applied to the flaps as an adjunct of the coif.

OED earliest date of use: 1652

Found described as OLD, WHITE
Found in units of DOZEN

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


[pinnion; pinions]

In spelling interchangeable with PINION, the term refers to the short refuse WOOL remaining after the combing process. As an alternative name for NOILS it was used in the Vale of Taunton [Kerridge (1985)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1780 under Pinion

Found described as COARSE, COLOURED, WHITE
Found in units of LB, STONE

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Kerridge (1985).


[pynpillowe; pinpilow; pinpillowe; pinne pillowe]

A rather earlier term for a PINCUSHION, often coupled with a PURSE as in '2 purses 1 pinpilow and sheath' [Inventories (1612)], or actually combined with one to combine the two functions as in '1 pin pilow purse' [Inventories (1612)]. This may be because these were two items that most women carried around with them.

OED online earliest date of use: 1530

Found described as for CHILDREN Found made of CLOTH, VELVET
Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early).


[pynsons; pynsins; pinsones]

In the Dictionary Archive, always a TOOL, an alternative name for PINCERS or FORCEPS. Pinson was also the name that became obsolete soon after 1600 given to a thin SHOE, SLIPPER or PUMP. No contemporary description of them is known, although one eighteenth-century source suggested that they were 'a sort of shoe without heels' [Phillips (1706)], and they have not been noted in the Dictionary Archive.

OED earliest date of use: 1356 for the tool; 1390-1 for the footwear

Found in units of DOZEN, PAIR Found rated by the DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Phillips (1706).


[pynte; pynt; poynt; pinte]

A measure of capacity both for liquids and for dry goods, and for liquids equal to four GILL. Two pints made a QUART, four a POTTLE, and eight a GALLON. In Scotland, before the union with England in the early eighteenth century, the pint was also known as a JUG or STOUP, and was equivalent to two choppins. The pint varied over time and depended on what it was used for, for instance, the WINE pint was considerably smaller than the ALE or BEER pint, which was the standard for most purposes. The Scottish pint, on the other hand, was nearly four times the capacity of the English one. In dry measure, there were eight pints to the GALLON and 64 to the WINCHESTER BUSHEL [Zupko (1968)].

The pint was also the term for a container that held such a quantity. These were usually made of PEWTER or EARTHENWARE, but some were made like COOPERY with a BOTTOM and STAVEs, hence entries like 'one hundred pynt bottoms xiiijs' [Inventories (1603)], and 'Pint Staves 84' [Inventories (1721)]. Virtuall all appropriate liquids was measured by the pint at one time or another; and only a selection has been listed here.

OED earliest date of use: c1384


Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Zupko (1968).



In the sixteenth century, Portuguese sources used the term for a cheap, INDIAN block-printed COTTON CLOTH, but by the following century the term was more commonly applied, like CHINTZ, to fine quality FLOWERED cotton cloths, mordant-painted and resist-dyed [Montgomery (1984)]. In Hobson Jobson, it is suggested that some of the finer fabrics were finished with hand painting [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. Elsewhere '... yndews cobbard clothes called paintagos, and all other Indews wares' were listed as coming out of Portugal in a Special Direction for divers trades, probably written by a west country merchant c1575-85 [Tawney and Power (1924-8)]. Pintadoes were not included in the sixteenth century Books of Rates, but were in the 1612 Scottish Book as 'Pintadoes or callico copbuirdis clothes, the peice xls' [Halyburton (1867)]. They were listed in similar fashion in the 1657 English lists of rates and in the 1660 Book of Rates, where the rate was given as 6s 8d. Although it was as CUPBOARD CLOTHs that pintados were generally listed in official documents, they have not been noted in domestic probate inventories as such, probably being labelled as calico cupboard cloths, which have been noted not infrequently. In 1657 East India merchants placed an order for 'Chints or Pintadoes 1,000 pieces ... Pintado Quilts that may match the works of ye Chints, 300' [Montgomery (1984)]. They rapidly became fashionable during the seventeenth century; so much so that by the 1670s one London tradesman was even calling one of his chambers the 'Pintado room' and his inventory listed the curtains and hangings of that fabric [Inventories (1670)]. John Houghton noted that almost 17,000 pieces of pintado were imported in four months in 1682/3, giving some indication of the scale of their popularity [Houghton]. However, the number of pintados in use in the seventeenth century was probably under-recorded since some were almost certainly called and listed under PAINTED CLOTHs.

To stop the importation of such goods acts were passed in the early-eighteenth century prohibiting their use for FURNISHINGS and DRESS [Acts (1700)]; [Acts (1720)]. They were not, however, listed among the Indian TEXTILEs specifically prohibited for importation except for re-export in the 1784 Book of Rates. Possibly they had gone out of fashionable use or were indistinguishable from chintzes, which were listed.

OED online earliest date of use: 1602

Found rated as 'Pintados or Callico-cupboard-cloaths' by the PIECE [RATES 1657/035]

See also CHINTZ.
Sources: Houghton, Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: Halyburton (1867), Montgomery (1984), Tawney and Power (1924-8), Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).

Piquet box

[picket boxe; picket box]

Piquet is a game of CARDS played by two persons with a pack of 32 PLAYING CARDS (the low cards from the two to the six being excluded), in which points are scored on various groups or combinations of cards, and on tricks. Presumably special packs were available containing only the relevant cards, and these could be kept in a piquet box. The phrase 'Picket Boxes of various Sorts' found in one piece of promotional literature suggests that boxes were available in different makes [Tradecards (1794)].

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Tradecards.


[pytche; pytch; pitche; pick; piche; pich; peiche]

In Latin PIX, this is a tenacious resinous substance of a black or black-brown colour, hard when cold, but becoming a thick, semi-viscid liquid when heated. It is obtained either as a residuum from the boiling or distillation of TAR or TURPENTINE or, although rarely, from mineral sources. It was used among other things to stop the seams of ships after caulking and to protect WOOD from moisture. Pitch was therefore an important component of NAVAL STORES. It was also used medicinally to treat coughs, arthritis, and as an ingredient of OINTMENTs.

In the Books of Rates of 1657 and 1660 pitch was classified as of two types 'small band' and 'great band' [Rates (1657)]; [Rates (1660)], the meanings of which are unclear.

OED earliest date of use: a700

Found described as BROKEN, COMMON, ENGLISH, ENGLISH MADE, ENGLISH PLANTATION, of the growth of East Florida Found in units of BAR, BARREL, C, CWT, HUNDRED, LB, QUARTER, STONE, TON of 20 gross HUNDRED in 8 BARREL Found imported from Spain, Sweden by the BARREL, CASK, LAST Found rated by the LAST of 12 BARREL each of 31½ GALLON

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

Pitch pot

[pitch pott]

A term found only once in the Dictionary Archive [Inventories (1635)]. According to the OED, it was an alternative name for a 'pitch KETTLE; that is, a large vessel in which PITCH is boiled or heated, especially for use on board ship.

OED online earliest date of use: 1719 under Pitch; 1486 for Pitch kettle

Sources: Inventories (early).


A large vessel, usually of EARTHENWARE, with a handle or two ears, and usually a lip, for holding and pouring out liquids; a JUG.

OED earliest date of use: 1290

Found described as EARTHEN

Sources: Diaries, Recipes.


[pytchforke; pytch forke; pykeforke; pykefork; pyke fforcke; pitchforke; pitch-fork; pike forke; pickforke; pickfork; pickeforke; picke fork; pichforke; pichfork; pichefork; peck forcke]

An agrigultural IMPLEMENT in the form of a long handled fork with two prongs for loading HAY, STRAW, etc. and the term was sometimes applied to a short-handled fork for lifting dung, breaking clods etc. Like many implements of this type, a pitchfork was usuall made of two parts; a WOODEN handle or staff, as in 'pitche forke staves' [Inventories (1592)], and an IRON head, sometimes called the 'grains', as in '3 pickforke grayns' [Inventories (1640)].

OED earliest date of use: 1452

Found described as SHORT

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