Arango - Artillery

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Arango - Artillery', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online [accessed 12 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Arango - Artillery", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 12, 2024,

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Arango - Artillery", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 12 June 2024,

In this section


[arangoe; aragoe]

A sort of BEAD made of rough CORNELIAN imported from the East Indies for re-export to Africa, which explains why they have not been noted in the shops, at least not under this name. An act passed in the 1760s described aragoes as of the 'Manufacture of the East Indies ... very beneficial to the Trade of this Kingdom' [Acts (1765)].

OED earliest date of use: 1715

Sources: Acts, Rates.


[arbour; arber]

An axle or spindle on which a wheel revolves, especially in a CLOCK or WATCH.

OED earliest date of use: 1659

Sources: Inventories (late), Patents.


[hardars; ardess; ardasse; ardash; ardas; ardacse]

From a Persian term meaning RAW SILK, the term referred to a very fine sort of PERSIAN raw silk. There was, however, some difficulty in its use as it would not stand hot water in the winding, hence it was largely made into EMBROIDERY silk, though it has been noted made into FERRET and RIBBON.

OED earliest date of use: 1701

Found in units of BALE, FANGOT, GREAT LB, GREAT POUND, LB, OZ Found rated by the GREAT POUND

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

Argent sublime

[argentu' sublimatu']

It should mean REFINED - SILVER. Since the term is in anglicised Latin, it is probably intended for medicinal use, though it does not appear in the London Dispensatory. It is possible that ARGENT VIVE or QUICKSILVER was meant, but more probably MERCURY SUBLIMATE.

OED online earliest date of use: 1611 under Subtilise

Found in the Rate Books among the DRUGS as 'Argentum Sublime or limum, the pound, or Quicksilver'
Found rated by the POUND, HUNDREDWEIGHT

Sources: Rates.

Argent vive

[argentum vivum; argentu' vivum; argent. viv; argent vivi]

An anglicised version of the Latin 'argentum vivum', alternatively in English QUICKSILVER, in other words metallic MERCURY

OED earliest date of use: 1453

Found in units of LB, OZ

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


[argull; argoll; argole; argoil; argill; argall; argal]

TARTAR deposited from WINEs completely fermented and adhering to the sides of the CASKs as a hard crust; when purified the crude bitartrate of potassium becomes CREAM OF TARTAR. It was a DYESTUFF and used as an assistant in the mordanting process, especially with MADDER. The colours produced thereby were fuller and brighter [Ponting (1980, pb 1981)]. The term was used occasionally for ORCHIL, otherwise archil, and it could be confused with 'Argil', which is a type of CLAY. This has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive, although 'Argil' has been noted as a variant of Argol.

OED earliest date of use: 1260

Found described as COMMON, DECAYED, FOREIGN, POWDER Found in units of BARREL, C, HUNDRED, LB, POUND, QU Found rated by the CWT, HUNDREDWEIGHT Found imported from Holland, Portugal, Spain

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Patents, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Ponting (1980, pb 1981).


[aristolook; aristologia; aristolock; aristol; aristochia; arichtoloch; arestiologia]

From 'aristos' meaning best, and 'lochia' meaning parturition from its supposed virtue for women in childbirth [Synge (1951, new ed.1956)]. The term refers to a large family of plants, mostly not fully hardy in this country, although BIRTHWORT, Aristolochia clematitis, is. Both Aristolochia longa and Aristolochia rotunda, a hardier member of the family, were formerly used in medicine and do not seem to have been greatly distinguished. John Houghton hoped that Aristolocia (he did not specify which) would 'naturalize ... here (altho' now it grows in the Streights) as well as it has done potatoes from Virginia'. He wrote that it was used more widely for 'physical uses' as in 'ointment of tobacco and Paracelsus plaister' [Houghton].It was the root that was used medicinally, and that of Aristolochia longa still is by herbalists for the treatment of rheumatism and gout. The taste is sweetish, but with an acrid and disagreeable aftertaste [Wren (1941)].

OED earliest date of use: 1398

Found in units of LB, OZ Found imported by LB Found rated by the POUND

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Synge (1951, new ed. 1956), Wren (1941).

Arithmetic book

[arithmetick book; arithmetick and copy-books]

Probably an instructional manual to teach children the four basic arithmetical operations. Arithmetic books have been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive [Tradecards (1760)], though such books, perhaps under another name, were probably available in the shops. For example, Edmund Wingate's 'The clarks Tutor for Arithmetick and Writing' published in 1671 was quoted by Randle Holme and was recommended by Addison in the Specator in 1711 for all 'young housewives' [Wingate (1671)].

Not found as such in the OED online

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Holme (2000), Wingate (1671).



A CHEST, BOX, COFFER, close BASKET, or some similar receptacle; especially in the north a large wooden BIN or HUTCH for storing MEAL, BREAD, FRUIT, etc. [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)]. The term, but probably not the article itself, became less common in the eighteenth century except in the north.

OED earliest date of use: a1000

Found described as GREAT, LARGE, LITTLE, OLD Found used for or containing baking, MALT, MEAL, SOAP

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Gloag (1991).


[arm'r; armor]

Defensive covering worn by one who is fighting; MAIL or a suit of mail. It was often made in two parts, a back and a front [Inventories (1662)]. A serious problem was rusting; hence two patents for dealing with it, one 'Making a certain oil to keep armour and arms from rust and canker' [Patents (1617)], the other for 'Lacquering on iron and all other metals, useful for armour' [Patents (1692)]. Armour became less important for the ordinary person after 1700 and has not been noted thereafter in the Dictionary Archive.

OED earliest date of use: 1297

Found described as BLACK, OLD Found made of IRON
As OLD armour: Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT

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


It refers to ARMOUR collectively, possibly including ARMS and also denotes a place where arms were kept.

OED earliest date of use: 1330

See also AMBRY.


[armozine; armozeen; armoseen; aramenseen]

A stout plain SILK - TEXTILE. According to Florence Montgomery, quoting Postlethwayt, Armozine (sic) was a 'silk stuff, or a kind of taffety, of an indifferent goodness. It is made in Lyons, and in several places in Italy'. There were also slighter ones imported from the East Indies, which were even less satisfactory [Montgomery (1984)]. All the same, armozeens were advertised almong 'a very elegant Assortment of Rich, Fancy and Plain Silks' [Newspapers (1760)] and among 'Mercery Goods' [Tradecards (18c.)], and the '19 yds Rich Silver & yellow Armozeen' purchased in 1742 were priced at 42s YARD, hardly a fabric of 'indifferent goodness' [Tradecards (1742)]. It seems likely that armozeen was a much more fashionable and decorative fabric than generally believed to be the case.

OED earliest date of use: 1578

Found in units of YARD

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



One meaning of 'arms' was instruments of offence used in war, or WEAPONs. It is probable (but by no means certain) that entries like 'The Deceaseeds Wearing apparrell Books and Armes' should be seen in this sense [Inventories (1700)]. Without ambiguity is legislation passed in 1644 that defined arms as including not only weapons of various sorts as MUSKET, CARBINE, FOWLING PIECE and PISTOL, but also the component parts of weapons such as SWORD BLADE and RAPIER BLADE, and HILTs for rapier and DAGGER, as well as PIKE HEAD and HALBERT HEAD. However, some things were included that do not fit the OED's definition as BANDELIER, ARMOUR, SADDLE, BRIDLE BIT, HOLSTER and POWDER [Acts (1656)].

A much more common meaning of the term was for heraldic insignia or devices, often in the form of a 'Coat of Arms' like the 'v Coate armes painted belonging to Kenrick Eyton [Inventories (1624)]. Men often used as ornament in their homes the arms of the Company of their trade, such as the silk weaver with the 'the Sylke weavers armes' INVEARLY NY1648HLMT]. Other tradespeople, particularly those who sold QUACK MEDICINE sealed their bottles and boxes with a version of their own (claimed) coat of arms [Newspapers (1750)]. Even less reputable was the use of the royal arms to add lustre to a product. For example, one very large catalogue had printed on the outer sheet the lion and unicorn, supporting the Royal Arms, with 'LONG LIVE THE KING' written underneath [Tradecards (1800)]. As the use of arms as a status symbol burgeoned during the eighteenth century, coats of arms or framed arms became commonplace in the home and they could be found emblazoned on possessions [Newspapers (1760)]. Enterprising tradesmen offered to paint or print arms; one claimed that coaches could be 'beautified and embellished with Coats of Arms, and other proper Decorations' [Newspapers (1742)], while another offered 'Engraving in all its Branches' including 'Coats of Arms' [Tradecards (1791)]. One even had in his stock 'two doz Londn Arms Cards at 2s 4d' a DOZEN, though what they were intended for is not clear [Inventories (1709)].

OED first date of use as weapons: 1300; as heraldic insignia: 1330

As weaponry: Found described as military
As heraldic insignia: Found described as with a FRAME, PAINTED

See also FIRE ARM.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Tradecards.


[aromaticu'; aromat]

Having a fragrant smell, and/or having a warm, fragrant spicy taste. Even at the end of the period, aromatic substances were still believed to ward off infection, hence the advertisements for 'Aromatic Spirit of Vinegar, to smell at, as a Preservative against Infection' [Newspapers (1790)].

OED earliest date of use: 1366

Found describing ague cake, ROSAT, SPICE, SPIRIT OF VINEGAR

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Newspapers, Patents.


[arrac; arak]

An alcoholic drink first distilled in the Indies and imported to Britain via the East India trade. It was originally made from the fermented juice extracted from DATEs. In Hobson Jobson it was suggested that the name was derived it from an Arab word meaning 'perspiration', hence to the sap drawn from the DATE palm [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. But by about 1600 the name was being applied to the distilled fermented sap of the Coco Palm, and a century later that from RICE and SUGAR, or indeed in the Middle and the Far East to any SPIRITS drawn from almost any material [Barr (1998)].

It was marketed as 'a kind of AQUA VITAE, much stronger and more pleasant than any we have in Europe' and was subject higher duties than most other imported drinks [Wilson (1973)]; in 1784, for instance, 9d. a GALLON. But high duties did not prevent its popularity in eighteenth-century Britain. In one recipe for what was called 'East-India Arrack' it was used to make up a PUNCH-like beverage with BRANDY, CIDER flavoured with SPICE and FRUIT juice [Wilson (1973)].

OED earliest date of use: 1516

Simone Clarke

Found described as FOREIGN, imported by the East India Company, musty Found in units of GALLON

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (late), Rates, Tradecards.
References: Barr (1998), Wilson (1973), Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).


[orris; orrice; arrize; arrise; arries; arrese; aroes; aras]

A possible variant spelling of this term is 'Orris', though ORRIS is also a term in its own right and then carries a different meaning. Arras is a TEXTILE of rich TAPESTRY, sometimes ornamented with GOLD, in which figures and scenes are woven in colours, or else it is a HANGINGS of this material that were hung round the walls of household apartments. Arras, at least under this name, went out of fashion and has been noted only occasionally in the Dictionary Archive after 1660, and not at all after 1700.

OED earliest date of use: 1400

Found as ARRAS work Found describing CARPET, COVERING, COVERLET, CUSHION, with GOLD Found called TAPESTRY
Found rated by the FLEMISH ELL

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


[arwe; arrowe; arowe; arow; aro]

A slender pointed missile shot from a BOW, usually feathered and barbed. The same term was sometimes also applied to the Bolt or QUARREL discharged from the CROSS BOW. The ARROW HEAD, being of metal, was made by a different worker, but making the wooden shaft and the assembling was done by a Fletcher. As a WEAPON, the BOW and arrow virtually disappeared after 1660.

OED earliest date of use: a835

Found described as CHILDRENS Found describing CASE, TIMBER Found in units of DOZEN, QUIVER, SHEAF

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Patents, Rates, Tradecards.

Arrow head

[heads of arrows; heads for arrows; arrowhed; aro hed]

The head or pointed part of an ARROW, made separately and of different material from the shaft. In 1405 Parliament required all Arrow heads to be 'boiled or brased, and hardened at the Point with STEEL'. Makers also had to mark each head with their own mark [Acts (1405)].

Sometimes the term was shortened to 'head' on its own, as in 'the best heads' and 'the courser heads and bowe stringe' in the inventory of a fletcher [Inventories (1600)].

OED earliest date of use: 1483

Found in units of DOZEN

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

Arrow root


The fleshy, tuberous rhizome of Maranta arundinacea, a plant native to some West Indian islands and cultivated in others. It was so called as it was believed to be efficacious in combating wounds made by ARROWs, particularly those with poisoned tips. It is a very pure form of starch that it was claimed was more nourishing than that produced either from WHEAT or POTATO. According to a mid-nineteenth source, the rhizomes were dug up when a year old, washed and either grated or ground up. The pulpy matter was then thrown into water and stirred around vigorously to release the starch. Then the solid material was squeezed out and removed, and the remaining milky liquor was strained and spread out to dry. The best arrow root came from Bermuda [Tomlinson (1854)]. It was very rare in early-modern trade, and only appears in the Dictionary Archive once [Acts (1796)]. Frederick Accum warned that the arrow root sold by druggists was frequently adulterated, containing some arrow root, but also some POTATO starch [Accum (1820)].

OED earliest date of use: 1696

Sources: Acts.
References: Accum (1820), Tomlinson (1854).

Arrows for trunks

[arrowes for trunks; arrowes for truncks]

ARROWs designed not for shooting with a BOW, but for use in a hollow tube (or trunk) from which they were fired by explosive. They have not been identified in the shops, but appear in the Books of Rates of 1582 and 1660. The term has not been located in the OED as such, but a quote of 1581 reads: 'To haue such gouernours as are skilfull in the making of trunkes, bawles, arrowes, and all other sortes of wilde fire'.

Found rated by the GROSS

Sources: Rates.


[asnicke; asnick; arssnick; arsnyck; arsnicke; arsnick; arsneck; arsenick; arsen; arsemake]

Arsenic is the name of one of the chemical elements. It is a violent poison and so are most of its compounds. Originally the name was applied to a bright yellow mineral (also called YELLOW arsenic). This is found native, and was manufactured. It was also referred to as ORPIMENT, or in Latin AURIPIGMENTUM. Chemically it is the trisulphide of arsenic, and this is and was used as a pigment under the name of KINGS YELLOW. The name, Arsenic, was sometimes extended to another sulphide of arsenic, a native mineral and product of art, the disulphide known variously as RED arsenic, Red orpiment, ruby sulphur, Realgar, ROSALGER, ROSAKER and SANDARAC. In popular use now, and possibly in the early modern period, arsenic could mean an oxide of arsenic, a white mineral substance, found both native and manufactured, originally distinguished as white arsenic. Flowers of arsenic is the same substance sublimed.

According to Rees, yellow arsenic probably related specifically to native orpiment, red to native realgar, and white to the oxide or to the pure element [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)]. In the Dictionary Archive, arsenic without a further descriptor probably applied to white or yellow arsenic, since it was often coupled with rosalger, for example [Inventories (1583)].

Arsenic was used primarily to poison vermin (hence the alternative name of RATSBANE). Although it was a poison, it was used medicinally after modification, particularly for skin diseases [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)], although it was not in the mid-eighteenth century Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)]. Arsenic also had many industrial applications, including whitening COPPER, preserving skins, removing HAIR and GLASS making [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)]. Although arsenic was admitted free of duty as a dyeing drug, it does not appear in contemporary dyeing recipes. However, Rees states that it was used for dyeing as well as for calico printing and as a pigment, by which he presumably meant King's Yellow.

Arsenic is also present in some ores, particularly those of copper. It was burnt off in preliminary roasting so that some early mining and metal working sites are still heavily contaminated. Although some was produced at home, arsenic was also imported. By an act of 1720 it was admitted duty free as belonging to 'dyeing Goods' [Acts (1720)]. For example in 1694, according to John Houghton, 900 LB arrived from Germany [Houghton].

OED earliest date of use: 1386 as yellow arsenic; 1591 as red arsenic; 1605 as white arsenic

Found described as FOREIGN, sublimed
Found in units of LB, OZ, POUND Found imported by LB Found rated among DRUGS by the C of 100 LB, POUND

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Pemberton (1746), Rees (1819-20, abridged 1972).


[artichock; artichoake]

A composite plant, Cynara scolymus, allied to the thistles, originally from Barbary and the warmer southern parts of Europe, but possible to cultivate in English gardens and apparently introduced to this country in the first half of the sixteenth century. The edible parts are the fleshy bases of the leaves surrounding the huge thistle-like flower and its receptacle or bottom when freed from the bristles and down, often called the choke or bottom. These were a delicacy and were made into PICKLE [Tradecards (18c.)], and SAUCE [Tradecards (19c.)], as well as being BOTTLED [Tradecards (1800)]. Seed was available from seed merchants in the eighteenth century [Tradecards (n.d.)], and possibly earlier. The leaves were apparently used as an alternative to HOPS in brewing BEER [Anon (1695)]. Although now considered as a strictly savoury food, in the early-modern period artichokes were sometimes cooked with FRUIT and SUGAR combined with a meat component [Recipes (May)].

The term is also applied (as Jerusalem Artichoke) to the quite different plant, Helianthus tuberosus, a species of sunflower native to tropical America, but hardy in Britain. Its tuber is edible and somewhat similar to the true artichoke in flavour. It has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive.

The '6 blue artichoke Mustards @ 3d' [Inventories (1790)] listed among the stock of a seller of EARTHENWARE is unexplained, but possibly was intended to describe a MUSTARD POT in a shape resembling the flowering head of an artichoke.

OED earliest date of use: 1531 in the first sense; 1620 in the second

Sources: Inventories (late), Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Anon (1695).


Made by or resulting from art or artifice; contrived, compassed, or brought about by constructive skill, and not spontaneously; not natural: artificial was a popular term in the early-modern period that had positive connotations more often than pejorative ones.

At a time when personal looks and well being were regarded as important, and when orthodox medicine offered little help for those suffering loss of body parts, the less reputable end of the medical profession filled the gap, offering artificial TEETH 'made to the greatest Perfection, so artfully fixed as to endure for Years' [Newspapers (1741)]; [Patents (1791)], and legs 'so neat as not to be distinguished from real ones' [Newspapers (1750)]; [Patents (1790)], as well as by implication 'artificial hair, although the only reference to it, called it 'disgusting' [Newspapers (1789)]. Even horses were served thus, with a patent offering 'Artificial frogs to be applied to horses' feet' [Patents (1800)].

Plenty of expensive products were also imitated including DIAMONDs 'perfectly resembling the Diamond in hard-ness and lustre' [Newspapers (1790)], MARBLE [Patents (1722)] and WOOD [Patents (1772)], while in sport there were 'Fine artificial Flies for every Month of the Year, dressed on Patent Fish-hooks' [Newspapers (1790)] and an 'Engine for teaching to perform by artificial horses, the usual exercises of a complete horseman [Patents (1673)].

OED earliest date of use: c1382

Found describing arm, BALAUSTINE, DIAMOND, FLY, frog, FURNACE, GLOBE, HAIR, heat, HORSE, leg, MARBLE, road, SALT, teeth, WOOD

Sources: Inventories (early), Newspapers, Patents, Rates.

Artificial balsam

[balsam artificial]

This label was applied to many made up MEDICINEs that were believed to have similar, or even greater, beneficial results than any of the NATURAL BALSAMs. In consequence it may most frequently be noted during the eighteenth century, the hey day of QUACK MEDICINES like FRIARS BALSAM, GODBOLDS VEGETABLE BALSAM and TURLINGTONS ORIGINAL BALSAM OF LIFE. However, artificial balsams were undoubtedly imported and made up by enterprising tradesmen long before the development of the press allowed the opportunity of nation-wide promotion. Only hints of their ubiquity in the seventeenth century appear. For example, the COVENTRY tradesman, Thomas Atherton [Inventories (1637)] had a wide variety of DRUGs and his appraisers deemed it necessary to list natural balsam separately from the many other medicinal products, although artificial balsam was not there under that label.

Not found in the OED

Found imported and rated by the LB

Sources: Houghton, Rates.

Artificial flower

[sarcenet velvet and feather flowers]

A flower made of SILK, WIRE and other materials in imitation of a real flower. They were fashionable in the eighteenth century and widely available, and no doubt the quality of the materials and of the finished product were reflected in the price. One tradecard listing CHENILLE, CAMBRIC, SATIN, SARSENET, VELVET and FEATHER flowers as well as SHELL FLOWERS [Tradecards (1765)], gives some indication of the choice available even in the provinces.

OED online earliest date of use: 1753 under Artificial

Sources: Diaries, Newspapers, Tradecards.


A general term covering munitions, engines for discharging missiles, or more probably large GUNs and CANNONs, though John Houghton wrote of 'our old English artillery' with reference to the BOW and ARROW [Houghton]. An act of 1786 banned the export of 'All Sorts of Utensils, Engines or Machines used in the casting or boring of Cannons, or any Sort of Artillery' [Acts (1786)], indicating that the subject of the arms industry was a sensitive one at the time.

OED earliest date of use: c1386

Found describing CARRIAGE

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Patents.