Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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A DYEWOOD giving a RED colour taken from several tropical trees; it was also known as BARWOOD and GUINEA WOOD [Acts (1720)]. It is often found in the shops associated with LOGWOOD, the other major dyewood. Redwood was exempted from duty as a DYESTUFF under [Acts (1704)]. [Acts (1788)] implies that redwood (presumably GROUND) was a common contaminant of SNUFF, and the act banned its use for this purpose. Its value varied, averaging about 5d LB.
The tall, straight stem of the water-loving plants in the genera Phragmites and Arundo. Reeds were used for thatching (hence by extension the term was applied to wheaten STRAW used for the same purpose). Where better alternatives were not available, reeds were also used as poor quality firing and in place of LATHs for plastering.
Reed was also used loosely for CANE; hence entries in the Books of Rates like 'Reedes or Canes the c.contayning v.xx' [Rates (1582)], and 'Canes, vizt. Reed-Canes, the Thousand' [Rates (1784)]. An advertisement for 'A Parcel of Steel Reeds', where the context indicates HEMP, suggests STEEL HEMP in the raw [Newspapers (1767)].
It is often difficult to distinguish the different meanings in entries in the Dictionary Archive and a typical example is 'for certayne Reedes lyinge in the yarde xs' [Inventories (1590)]. The entry '6 fadhams of Reed att 4d ijs' [Inventories (1602)] suggests that reeds were sometimes measured by the FATHOM, that is a pile six FOOT square in section, though no other example has been located elsewhere.
Small pieces of wedge-shaped reeds were used in pairs in the HAUTBOY and the BASSOON (hence sometimes the term 'double reed') and singly in the clarinet (hence single reed). These reeds have been noted advertised for sale in general terms as 'Reeds and all Sorts of musical Instruments' [Newspapers (1780)] and specifically of one type as 'Reeds for Hautboys' [Tradecards (1760)].
A reed was also a weaver's instrument for separating the threads of the WARP and beating up the WEFT. It was originally made of narrow strips of reed or cane, hence its name, but later of wire, fastened at the ends into two parallel bars of wood. Randle Holme compared them with 'the Barrs of a Grate through which the the Warp or Yarn runs' [Holme (2000)]. Such reeds have been noted only rarely in the Dictionary Archive; for example, '15 reeds' belonging to a shearman involved also in weaving [Inventories (1660)]. The manufacture of 'Weaving Reeds' along with other weaving equipment was regulated from the early 1750s [Acts (1751)].
A rotatory instrument used for many purposes. The chief type was one on which THREAD is wound after it is spun, or SILK as it is drawn direct from the cocoons, and from which it may again be easily wound off upon BOBBINs or spools, or made up into HANKs etc. Typical entries in the Dictionary Archive of this type are '2 Wheeles and 1 Reele 3s' [Inventories (1679)], and the 'One round Mill too setts of Reeles' owned by a silk thrower [Inventories (1671)].
For the manufacture of some TEXTILEs the circumference of the reel was regulated and the various measures set out precisely as in the case of WORSTED YARN, for which the reel was to measure a full yard round [Acts (1650)]. A later act 31 GEO3 C56 (1791) allowed a greater degree of flexibility, with a choice of circumference ranging from 36 to 72 INCH [Acts (1791)]. Other manufacturers were obliged to use specific - but different - reel-sizes. At KIDDERMINSTER, LINEN YARN was to be 'openly bought and sold in some publick Market-Place on Market-Day' and 'reeled on a Reel four yards about' [Acts (1670)], while from 1726 in Scotland 'the uniform Standard Reel of Scotland' was to be 'Ninety Inches in Circumference' [Acts (1726)]. Given the 'Variety of Reels used and the Methods practised in making up Ounce or Nun's Thread for Sale' it was enacted in 1788 that the reel used for this purpose was to be 36 INCH circumference [Acts (1788)].
Reels varied considerably in construction and function, and were given an almost endless variety of names, including SWIFT and YARWINDLE. Randle Holme described and illustrated a simple reel, which he called one of the 'very necessary Instruments of Housewifry' [Holme (2000)] and [Holme (2000)], to be used by spinners. But weavers used more complex reels to assist in arranging the WARP in the LOOM, like the CLOCK REEL and JERSEY WHEEL. However, most commonly weavers' reels were not described, hence entries like 'old loome a reele & other odd trifles' [Inventories (1630)]. Valuations may help to distinguish the simple from the complex.
Reels were also used in retail shops as a convenient way of keeping THREAD, hence entries like 'in the shope ... A desk for the wyndoe A reele for thrid' [Inventories (1580)]. Although the type of thread was rarely specified, PACKTHREAD was mentioned occasionally as in 'Packthread and a Reele' [Inventories (1699)]. This suggests that the thread thus stored may have been for the use of the shopkeeper packing up parcels, rather than for sale to a customer.
Possibly in the later part of the period 'Reel' was used to describe something similar to a modern cotton reel. The OED gives an earliest date of use for this type as 1784, but the 'twenty Reeles' found in the stock of a Basket maker may be an earlier version [Inventories (1700)]; more certainly identified in this way are the 'Silk Reels, in Cases, in Ivory, Bone and Wood' advertised by a seller of TOYs and fancy goods [Tradecards (1794)].
An IMPLEMENT used in measuring, and hence a unit of measure for WORSTED YARN when it was being wound onto a reel. According to a rather elliptical piece of legislation every reel staff contained 'Fourteen Lea's, and every Lea containing Forty thrids, Twelve of those Reel-staves making a Dozen, and Twelve of those Dozens making a Gross' [Acts (1650)].
SUGAR was dissolved and recrystallized to remove impurities and to improve the colour. The process could be repeated and some sugar was double and triple REFINED, hence producing SINGLE REFINED SUGAR and DOUBLE REFINED SUGAR
Found in the form 'Raing' elsewhere, rehing was an uncommon COTTON - TEXTILE of gauze-like structure imported from India. It is possible that this term was used only briefly in British trade in an attempt to avoid the heavy duties imposed on MUSLIN; a stratagem an act of 1700 was designed to thwart by defining rehings as MUSLIN [Acts (1700)]. Rehings were included among Milburn's INDIAN - PIECE GOODS imported from Bengal [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. However, they have not been noted in the shops in the Dictionary Archive, suggesting that if and when they were available for sale, it was probably under the generic term of muslin.
Vegetable products formed by secretion in special channels in almost all trees and shrubs, from which it may exude naturally. Many were used in medicine, such as JALAP and SCAMMONY, and hence the Latiin forms Resina jalapaii and Resina scammonii. From conifererous trees in particular, resin was also readily obtained from excisions made for that purpose in the bark. From resin, many useful products were prepared, including TURPENTINE and ROSIN. Particularly before the eighteenth century, resin appears sometimes to have been used interchangeably with rosin.