Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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A DEAL was a slice sawn from a log of TIMBER, usually of FIR or PINE and usually more than 7 INCH wide (in England usually 9 INCH) and not more than 3 INCH thick. Red deal was the produce of the SCOTCH - PINE (Pinus sylvestris). It was largely used in carpentry rather than for making MASTs and SPARs for which WHITE DEAL was preferred.
Found only in the Dictionary Archive as an apparently inferior type of EEL that was not to be mixed with the good quality ones when barrelling [Acts (1482)]. In modern contexts the red eel is a tropical FISH suitable for aquariums, though it is unlikely that this was what was referred to in the 1482 act. It may be that the red eel was one taken from still water, when it was much more slimy in texture with a brown back and a yellow belly, compared with one taken from running water, which had a light brown-green back and a silvery belly. The distinctive inferiority was implicit in some recipes that called for a 'silver eel', as does for example [May (1685, facs. 1994)].
The term, red fennel' may simply have referred to a sort of Foeniculum vulgare that crops up from time to time with noticeably dark reddish leaves, but there are no references to this having any distinctive medicinal virtues, and therefore no reason for Ralph Josselin to have made a syrup of its juice to give to his sick daughter [Diaries (Josselin)]. However, a few modern authorities on HERBs do suggest that there is a special virtue in red fennel (for example, it is claimed that it eases an upset stomach) naming it as Foeniculum vulgare var. rubrum [Drasil Sedai (online)]; [Kerns Nursery (online)].
A term for a commodity found only once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of a London dyer [Inventories (1665)]. Although not mentioned by Ponting among the early-modern RED dyes [Ponting (1980, pb 1981)], red flocks does seem to have been a DYESTUFF sufficiently well established to be mentioned in 'The Whole Art of Dying', where it called in French 'Rouge de Nacarat de Bourre' and in English 'Nacarat Flock or shred Red' and constitutes the 'sixth sort of good red'. The instructions given are only helpful once the nature of this substance is known. The OED suggests two possible derivation for the term, Nacarat; one from the Portuguese for a species of Pinna (that is a bivalve mollusc), the other from the Arab name of a red flower from which a dye was extracted. Neither account for the second part of both terms, 'flock' and 'shred'. Nacarat was also a Portuguese TEXTILE dyed fugitively a vivid red colour. It seems probable that the process referred to in the 'Whole Art' was designed to extract the colour from shreds or flocks of this fabric and re-use it on another to obtain the desired 'Colour [which was] somewhat paler than orange, enclining to Crimson' [Anon (1705)]. This supposition is supported by [Bristow (1996)]. The original fabric from which the scarlet flocks were made had probably been dyed with one of the expensive red dyes like KERMES or COCHINEAL and was therefore worth recovering.
There are many references in the Dictionary Archive to GINGERBREAD, but only in one was described as RED and 'after the York Fassion' [Diaries (Blundell)]. It is not known what characterised York gingerbread as such, but the red colouration was probably produced by using RED WINE or an extract of RED SANDERS. Compared with the typical modern type darkened with TREACLE, the early-modern 'fine gingerbread' was made using GROUND ALMOND so that the result was an enriched MARCHPANE or MARZIPAN heavily flavoured with GINGER rather than the typical confection known today [Murrell (online). The red colouration would therefore be more noticeable.
A good red GLASS can be achieved today using GOLD either as an oxide or a chloride. A modern method involves adding to the molten glass a colloidal gold solution produced by dissolving gold metal in AQUA REGIA, but the process is difficult and expensive [Glass Encyclopedia (online)].
The methods used in the Ancient World had been lost by the early-modern period, and were only re-discovered during the seventeenth century. Rees detailed the many experiments during the seventeenth century to find a satisfactory solution to the problem [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)]. The three eighteenth-century patents for making red glass illustrate how innovators were still exploring new methods [Patents (1691)]; [Patents (1755)]; [Patents (1770)].
A quotation dated 1796 given in the OED declared that red hay was mow-burnt HAY, that was distinct from 'green hay', or hay which had taken a moderate heat, and to 'vinny hay', or that which was mouldy. This seems an unlikely definition of the commodity listed by Houghton among goods imported into London at the end of the seventeenth century [Houghton]. An alternative meaning that fits better with Houghton may be found in modern advice on animal forage. This is a hay including, or consisting solely of, RED CLOVER [Kephart et al. (online)].
HERRING having a red colouration from being cured by smoking. This was done by leaving the FISH in dry SALT for up to 10 days, then smoking them for 14 [OED, Bloat]. Herring curing was a important and traditional industry in East Anglia, largely due to the pre-eminence of Great Yarmouth as an important fishing port. The writer John Houghton suggested that the length of curing time depended upon the culinary tastes of the prospective consumers. Red Herring destined for the home market were on sale within a month of catching, whilst those for export to the STREIGHTS or Mediterranean requiring up to six weeks of smoking [Houghton]. According to Mason and Brown, British red herring found an overseas market in Catholic Europe, and later among slave traders who used it as a convenience food 'to offer their captives in transit', and hence its place in African and Afro-Caribbean cuisine.
There were at least two different types of red herring produced in the eighteenth century, as is evident in the act 5 GEO1 C18 (1718), which distinguished 'full Red Herrings', that is with the roe in, from 'clean shotten Red Herrings', which were those taken after spawning. Both types were required to be exported in BARRELs containing 32 GALLON.
See also BLOATED, SPRAT, WHITE HERRING.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Davidson (1999), 380, Mason & Brown (1998), 91-2.
INK, including red ink, was made of everyday ingredients, and until the eighteenth century had mostly been made at home. It is for this reason that recipes for making ones own ink were not uncommon. One recipe, typical of its genre, was made from ALUM and GUM ARABIC with BRASIL to provide the colour [Recipes (Bellers)].
With the coming of newspapers and other means of disseminating information, stationers and the like, who may well have served a local market previously, began to advertise their own brand to a wider clientele. Joseph Cooper, for example, a London printer, advertised in Aris's Birmingham Gazette 'Inks of superior brilliancy _ and Red Ink, in which there is no waste' [Newspapers (1790)]. Bettison, one of the arch-promoters confirmed in his poetic introduction to the catalogue of his stock that commercially produced inks were similar to the HOME MADE, writing of 'Ink from wood of Brazil made, Glowing bright with ruby red' [Tradecards (1794)].
A red oxide of LEAD, also called minium, largely used as a PIGMENT and as a component of some PAINTs. The usual method of preparing it was by melting LEAD in a large reverberating furnace to produce a yellowish oxide called massicot. Further treatment in the furnace produced red lead. This was also a by-product of the extraction of SILVER from lead ores, for example [Patents (1635)], [Patents (1697)] and [Hatchett (1967)].
Its main use was in PAINT, particularly as an ingredient of a primer because it helped to increase the drying properties of the LINSEED OIL [Recipes (Smith)]. Red lead was used in this way until quite recently when its toxicity was deemed to outweigh it positive merits. It was one of the rather limited range of PIGMENTs that plasterers were allowed to use for their work [Acts (1604)]. This versatile material was used as a glaze for EARTHENWARE and was a component of most coloured glazes including black [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)]. However, its toxicity and/or the difficulty of obtaining transparent glazes with it led to some reduction in its use before the end of the period, see for example [Patents (1796)].
Red lead was readily available in the shops, being valued at about 3d the LB, as for example in [Inventories (1673)] and [Inventories (1731)]. It was used medicinally both in standard medicinal preparations and in the home, mainly for externally applications such as a CERE CLOTH [Recipes (Ketilby)] or a PLASTER to treat gout [Recipes (Nott)]. Yet another domestic use was as a colorant as the one to make GLOVES a brick-colour [Recipes (Smith)]. In the Pharmacopoeia it found its place in 'Emplastrum e Minio', in English red lead PLASTER [Pemberton (1746)].
Found defined as for PAINTers Found used with LINSEED OIL to prime surfaces for painting Found used as a primer paint Found in units of bladder, BOX, C, CASK, HUNDRED, LB Found among the DRUGS in the Rate Books rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Hatchett (1967), Pemberton (1746), Rees (1819-20, abridged 1972).
Red lead pencil
LEATHER is a naturally reddish colour when TANNED, though occasionally this was made more specific in official documents, as in 'All Red-tanned Leather must be bought only in open Fairs, or Markets for selling Leather.' [Acts (1662)]. In most circumstances there was, therefore, no need for the descriptor, suggesting that when it was added, this was for a reason. Apart from simply denoting a piece of LEATHER dyed red, there were two more specific meanings. The first was for a piece of LEATHER used as a COSMETIC, being dyed red in such a way that the colour could easily be transferred to the cheek. The second, was as an alternative to RUSSIA LEATHER.