Wig comb - Wisp steel

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

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Wig comb

[wigg combe]

A COMB, like a TOUPEE COMB, designed specifically to be used in dressing a WIG. Presumably 'wig comb' is a shortened form of the 'Peruwick comb', which Randle Holme described as 'haueing round open and strong teeth' [Holme (2000)].

The occupation of wig combing had become by the eighteenth century a distinct branch of the hairdressing craft [Cox (1966, pb 1969)].

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Diaries.
References: Cox (1966, pb 1989), Holme (2000).


A WORSTED, made stouter and more closely woven than TAMMY, but finished without a glaze [Montgomery (1984)].

OED earliest date of use: 1784

Found described as BLUE, GREEN, PURPLE, STRIPED Found in units of PIECE, YARD

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers.
References: Montgomery (1984).

Windmill card

Almost certainly a piece or pieces of CARD so cut and shaped that when fastened by a pin to a stick it would revolve like a windmill in the wind. Windmills (though not windmill cards) appear in the OED from 1557 and Bettison had several examples apparently intended as children's TOYs in his catalogue [Tradecards (1794)].

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Window hangings

An alternative term for WINDOW CURTAIN

OED online earliest date of use: 1840 under Window

Sources: Inventories (late).

Window stuff

[window stuffe]

Randle Holme did not use the term directly but he commented that 'all sorts of Wood that Joyners work upon, are generally called Stuff' [Holme (2000)]. Indeed, stuff seems to have been a common term in the TIMBER trade, and Randle Holme gives several examples including FREE STUFF.In the only example noted in the Dictionary Archive, window stuff was listed as distinct from the window frames, so it is probable the term in this example covered parts of a window frame not yet made up [Inventories (1670)].

See also FREE STUFF.
Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Holme (2000).

Wine strainer

A term not found in the dictionaries and only once in the Dictionary Archive. It was presumably a STRAINER for use with the WINE FUNNEL with which it was advertised [Tradecards (1794)], for straining WINE and removing all possible solid matter that had got into it when it was decanted.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.

Wine vinegar

[wyne vinegar; wine viniger; wine vineg'r; wine vineger; wine vinagre; vinegar of wine]

True VINEGAR made from WINE rather than ALEGAR or MALT vinegar. Most probably it came from France and was made by the method described under FRENCH VINEGAR. It has been noted in the form of both RED WINE VINEGAR and WHITE WINE VINEGAR. In the mid-seventeenth century it was subjected to a third of the duty of imported WINE [Rates (1660)]. One entry in the Dictionary Archive records what was probably its main use: 'Wine Vinegar for the Cruet' [Newspapers (1757)].

OED earliest date of use: 1617

Found in units of GALLON, HOGSHEAD, OZ, TON Found rated by the TON

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


The OED suggests that it is an alternative name for ARGOL but in the Books of Rates the term seems to have been applied only to WHITE ARGOL.

OED earliest date of use: 1526

Sources: Rates.

Winter corn

[wynt' corne; winter corne]

CORN, such as WHEAT and RYE, sowed in the autumn and cropping the following year, contrasting with LENT CORN sown in the spring. It seems to have been applied only to corn sown or growing in the field, hence the unit of acre as a measure, and such phrases as 'an aker & a halfe of winter Corne' [Inventories (1609)], and 'iijor dayes worke of wynt' corne' [Inventories (157)].

OED earliest date of use: c1450

Found described as sown
Found in units of acre, days' work

See also HARD CORN.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).

Winter hedge


A CLOTHES HORSE [Wright (1898-1905)]. This is a term that tells us something of the practice of laundry. Much of the washing, particularly the whites, were placed over bushes or hedges to dry and (if appropriate) to bleach. This was only practical with shrubs in leaf, and when the weather was kind. In the winter, most drying had to take place inside - on winter hedges.

Not found in the OED

Found described as LARGE, SMALL

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Wright (1898-1905).

Wire chain

'Wire chains' were recorded in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books in the early eighteenth century carried up the River Severn in BARREL or CASK, but it has not been noted in the dictionaries and appears only once in the Dictionary Archive as 'Silver Watch, with an ... Iron-wire Chain with two keys' [Newspapers (1760)]. In this example it was clearly a WATCH CHAIN, though of unusual form. Another form of WIRE chain is described under JACK CHAIN.

Not found in the OED

Found made of IRON

Sources: Newspapers.

Wire ends

Possibly scrap from WIRE making or bits of wire trimmed off when making a WOOL CARD or a WIRE - SIEVE. Whatever their origin, they were sufficiently valuable to be a traded commodity, being carried in quite large quantities up the River Severn in the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)], and they were noted once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of a BRUSH maker [Inventories (1745)].

Not found in the OED

Found described as OLD Found made of BRASS
Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1998).

Wire rod

[wier rodde]

ROD IRON or BRASS in ROD intended for drawing out into WIRE. The only example in the Dictionary Archive may be found among the stock of a brazier so it was presumably BRASS, though the entry does not say that [Inventories (1615)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1858 under Wire

Found in units of HUNDRED

Sources: Inventories (early).

Wisp steel

[wisp-steele; steel wisp]

Apparently a wisp was originally a unit of measure, now obsolete, but subsequently a type of STEEL, presumably once quantified in wisps. This supposition is supported by the entry in the Scottish list of rates for 1612 of 'wisp steill the wisp' [Halyburton (1867)]. Wisp steel was invariably given as a synonym of LONG STEEL, or it was regarded as very similar to it, hence entries like 'Long steel, Wisp-steele, and such like' [Rates (1660)]. It is also invariably contrasted with GAD STEEL, which was rated more highly and by a different unit of measure.

OED earliest date of use: 1612

Found rated by the FAGGOT, HUNDREDWEIGHT

Sources: Rates.
References: Halyburton (1867).