Fullers earth - Fustian

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University of Wolverhampton

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Nancy Cox and Karin Dannehl

Year published

2007

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'Fullers earth - Fustian', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 (2007). URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=58770 Date accessed: 30 September 2014.


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Fullers earth

[fulors earth; fullers-earth; fuller's earth; ffullers earth]

A hydrous silicate of Alumina, now called Montmorillonite or Bentonite. In lay terms a finely divided and strongly absorbent CLAY, used in cleansing WOOLLEN CLOTH before applying SOAP, hence the terms 'Fulling' and 'Fuller'. This action was possible because of the affinity of the alumina to grease. Fullers earth was found in many parts of the country, but mostly in the southern counties. It was prepared by baking, or heating in the sun. It was then thrown into cold water, where it precipitated as a powder, which is separated into fine and coarse by a process called 'washing over', also used in separating GOLD from alluvial deposits, and the various grades of EMERY. The process involved a series of washings, in each of which the heavier particles sank leaving the lighter still in suspension. The water still containing the finer stuff was then poured off and allowed to resettle. The process was repeated until a sufficient separation had been made. Charles Tomlinson called the process 'a beautiful application of the law of gravitation to the useful arts' [Tomlinson (1854)].

Fullers earth, because of its importance to the TEXTILE industry, was subject to severe export restrictions [Acts (1690)]. Because of its similarity, TOBACCO PIPE CLAY was subject to the same restrictions [Smith (1776)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1523 under Fuller's earth

Found in units of BOX, C, LB, LOAD, TUB

See also FULLING CLAY.
Sources: Acts, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Tradecards.
References: Smith (1776), Tomlinson (1854).

Fumitory water

[fumitary; fumetary water]

John Gerard believed that the distilled WATER of FUMITORY 'conduceth much against the plague and pestilence, being taken with a good treacle'. He also recommended that it be taken internally to clarify the blood from those 'humours' that 'cause leprosy, scabs, tetters and itches, and such like breakings out of the skin' [Culpeper (1792)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1576

Found described as a SIMPLE WATER
Found in units of LB, QUART

See also DISTILLED WATERS, FUMARIA, SIMPLE WATER.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Culpeper (1792).

Furniture ball

The context of the three examples found in the Dictionary Archive would suggest that it was probably a ball of WAX or other material suitable for polishing FURNITURE.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.

Furry

Probably an IMPLEMENT resembling a furry caterpillar (one recognised meaning of the term), used to spread BLACKING or other POWDER. It has been noted associated with BLACKING BOX [Inventories (1726)].

Found described as BLACK

Sources: Inventories (late).

Fusee chain

[fuzee chain]

The FUSEE is a spirally grooved tapering cone to which a driving wheel is attached. It is connected at the narrow end to the barrel inside a WATCH or CLOCK, originally by a length of CATGUT, but later by a fine CHAIN. The fusee may be wound up, drawing the chain into the spirals and tightly coiling the spring within the barrel. As the spring unwinds, and becomes weaker, the fusee becomes more powerful, thus reducing the tendency of a spring-operated clock to speed up as the spring loosens. The invention of the fusee made small clocks practical without the need of weights [Wenham (1964)]. Fusee chains, which would have been one of the most fragile parts of such a mechanism, have been noted once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of one London tradesman [Newspapers (1780)].

OED earliest date of use: 1884

See also FUSEE ENGINE.
Sources: Newspapers.
References: Wenham (1964).

Fusee engine

[ffusee engine; fewsey engine]

An ENGINE or MACHINE for cutting and shaping the fusee of a WATCH or small CLOCK. Around it, the FUSEE CHAIN is wound. One fusee engine noted in the Dictionary Archive belonged to a watchmaker, and was valued at £2. It was an instrument of precision and value [Inventories (1715)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1858 under Fusee

Found described as WATCH

See also FUSEE CHAIN.
Sources: Inventories (late).

Fustian

[fustyon; fustyan; fustion; fustin; fustien; fusten; fustain; ffustion; ffustian; ffistion; ffistio'; fasstion]

Conjecturally the term is derived from Fostat, a suburb of Cairo, where TEXTILEs were manufactured. According to Wilhelmsen, fustian is the oldest COTTON fabric mentioned in English.

Fustian belongs to a wide group of fabrics that are characterized by their piled surface. It is also a subset within that group of fabrics in which the pile is constructed from the weft rather than from the warp, as in the case of VELVET. The subset includes BARMILLION, THICKSET, VELVERET and WEAZEL. The exception was ROWED FUSTIAN, which was a rushed fabric with no pile.

As made in Europe at the start of the early-modern period, fustian seems to have been a fabric made of COTTON and FLAX, but this may have been only because the art of making all-cotton fabrics had not been fully mastered. In the East it was made all of cotton at this time. Today fustian is a thick, twilled COTTON CLOTH with a short nap or pile, usually dyed an olive, leaden or other dark colour.

Before the 1580s most fustians were imported and place descriptors indicate both a town of origin and, probably, a distinctive type. Entries in the Books of Rates [Rates (1582)], [Rates (1657)] and [Rates (1660)] usefully set out the main centres of European production, while INVEARLY provides clues on the difference between them. Probably the earliest centres were in Italy, which was most accessible to eastern technology. MILAN FUSTIAN, more often anglicized as 'million fustian' was, judging by valuations, the best quality averaging above 2s the YARD, with a low of 18d, and a high of 3s 2d. It has barely been noted after 1660. A fustian of much lower quality was made at Genoa, usually anglicized to JEAN FUSTIAN. This was almost invariably valued at less than 12d, although one has been noted at 16d. Jean fustian, unlike Milan seems to have specialized in producing COLOURED fustians, particularly ones dyed RUSSET. Like Milan fustian, Jean fustian seems virtually to have disappeared after 1660, but this may be deceptive as the fabric came to be called what had formerly been the place descriptor, that is JEAN (or Jane) unqualified.

FUSTIAN OF NAPLES, a term that was sometimes transmogrified into 'fustinapes', and even 'fustian and apes' and 'anapes', was different in structure, having two piles, one shorter than the other. It has only been noted once in INVEARLY and not at all thereafter, though its appearance in the various early Books of Rates confirms it must have been imported. Possibly it was only stocked by those up-market London retailers that are not well represented in the Dictionary Archive.

German and Dutch fustians appeared at least by the sixteenth century, and were quite commonly stocked in English shops. There seem to have been several centres, of which the most frequently cited was HOLMES (more correctly Ulm). On the evidence of valuations this came between the fustians of Milan and Genoa in quality, averaging about 12d the yard with a low of 9d and a high of 16d. The anglicization of other German place names used as descriptors makes it difficult to identify them with certainty. In INVEARLY fustians of 'Osbourne', 'Oseborough', Osborough' and 'Ausborough' have been noted, while in [Rates (1660)] were listed 'Osbrow or Augusta'. It may be that all are versions of OSNABURG, which was a centre of linen manufacture and a name with which the English seem to have had particular difficulty. 'Augusta' does not fit well in this hypothesis, but Wilhemsen's suggestion that it was 'obviously named after the Queen' seems no more likely.

[Acts (1495)] shows that fustians were imported unshorn. More significantly it indicates that the highly skilled process of shearing was a holding back production and thus stimulating innovation. Subsequent acts and various patents, for example [Patents (1792)] show that the challenge of efficient cutting remained a matter of concern throughout the period.

British fustian manufacture probably began before the end of the sixteenth century, although the earliest references to it (apart from FUSTIAN OF NAPLES) appear just into the seventeenth. One Giles Warren started making fustians in Ireland in 1590. Apparently he attracted fustian weavers from London, confirming that it was already being made there, though our earliest reference to London fustian is 1619 [Inventories (1619)]. The manufacture of fustians spread rapidly throughout England, but eventually the industry gravitated to Bolton and the Manchester district. Three northern retailers show that it reached this area at least by the first few decades of the seventeenth century, stocks of BOLTON FUSTIAN having been noted in [Inventories (1609)], [Inventories (1619)] and [Inventories (1634)]. The rapid and continuing expansion of fustian manufacture into the eighteenth century is reflected in the frequent newspaper advertisements for skilled workmen, for example [Newspapers (1790)], and for suitable premises, for example [Newspapers (1760)]. Fustians became an important component of MANCHESTER WARE.

The preamble of [Acts (1495)] declared that fustians 'have been ... the most profitable Cloth for DOUBLETs and for other wearing Clothes, greatly used among the common people'. It was in the early part of the period at least also used by the well to do. For example, the wealthy mercer of Worcester, William Robynson, had among his long list of rich apparel 'a scarlet gowne lyned with ffustyn apes and faced with black velvet' [Inventories (1555)]. However many of the garments made of fustian that appear in the Dictionary Archive were READY MADE in the stocks of retailers. For example, John Broadhurst of London had among his extensive list of ready made clothes, quite a range of garments made of fustian including COATs, FROCKs and WAISTCOATs [Inventories (1895)] APPAREL made of fustian appears to have been favoured by working people judging by the frequent references to this in the announcements advertising runaway apprentices. Most outer garments made of fustian were included among the garb of these people.

Possibly because of its adoption by the lower orders, or because in the early days English fustians were of a lower quality than those produced on the continent, the term 'fustian' acquired pejorative overtones. By the 1590s it had come to mean inflated, turgid or inappropriate language, a meaning that continued in use at least until the end of the nineteenth century.

OED earliest date of use: c1200

Found described as Amsterdam, ASH COLOUR, BLACK, BLUE, BRANCHED, buff coloured, COARSE, COLOURED, CORDED, COTTON, CULLEN, DRAB, DUTCH, DYED, ELL WIDE, ENGLISH, FLOWERED, HOLLAND, PAINTED, PINK, PLAIN, POCKET, PRINTED, RED, ribbed, RICH, RUSSET, SNUFF coloured, STAINED, STRIPED, THICKSET, TUFTED, WHITE Found describing VELURE, YARN Found as Fustian THRUMS Found used to make BLANKET, BREECHES, CURTAIN, DOUBLET, DRAWERS, FROCK, GOWN, MANTLE, PILLOW, POCKET, SLEEVE, SUIT, TROUSERS, WAISTCOAT, WALLET
Found measured in the shops by END, HALF PIECE, PIECE, YARD Found rated by BALE, HALF PEICE, PIECE, YARD

See also BARMILLION, BERVERNIX, BOLTON FUSTIAN, COTTON VELVET, FUSTIAN OF NAPLES, FUSTIAN WHEEL, HOLMES FUSTIAN, JEAN FUSTIAN, MILAN FUSTIAN, NORWICH FUSTIAN, PILLOW FUSTIAN, TEN FUSTIAN, THICKSET, TUFT FUSTIAN, VELVERET, WEAZEL, WOLVERING.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Kerridge (1985), 124-5, Montgomery (1984), 224-5, Wilhelmsen (1943). 75, 80, 94.