Caracca nut - Carduus water

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Caracca nut - Carduus water', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Caracca nut - Carduus water", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Caracca nut - Carduus water", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section

Caracca nut

[caracca nutt]

Probably from the place of that name in South America. It has been noted only once in the inventory of a large London merchant [Inventories (1721)], where it was listed immediately after COFFEE BEANs, suggesting that it may have been a distinctive varity of coffee bean, and preceding FLAT NUTs, which were somewhat less highly valued than caracca nuts.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of C, CASK, QUARTER, LB

Sources: Inventories (late).

Caraway comfit

[sinamond co'fet; carryway comfitt; carrua comfitt; carroway comfit; caraway comfette]

A COMFIT in which a CARAWAY seed was coated with SUGAR. According to John Gerard, 'The seeds confected or made with sugar into Comfits, are very good for the stomache, they help digestion, provoke urine, asswage and dissolve all windiness' [Gerard (1633, facs. 1975)].

OED earliest date of use: 1710 under Caraway, but much earlier for comfits and caraway mentioned together

Found in units of OZ, POUND

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Gerard (1633, facs. 1975).

Caraway water

[carreway water]

CARAWAY water was presumably distilled from the seed. Caraway seeds were esteemed for their capacity to relieve digestive disorders and for this purpose were made into CARAWAY COMFITS. Possibly a WATER was distilled - and marketed - for the same purpose. An alternative possibility is that caraway water was merely GIN flavoured with caraway rather than JUNIPER on the lines of ANISEED WATER.

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Inventories (late).



One of the primary meanings of this term derives from the Latin CARDUUS or thistle, a family of composite plants, many of them native to Great Britain, to which the teasel belongs (see TEASELS). The label came to be applied to an IMPLEMENT consisting of teasels set in a frame, which was used for raising the nap on CLOTH. Later, some innovative clothworkers replaced this by an instrument with iron teeth or one made by setting short WIRE lengths into LEATHER fixed to a CARDBOARD or card board, similar to the implement discussed below. The use of either modification was prohibited by [Acts (1765)] as a means of raising a nap, although both remained legal in processing WOOL or other fibres before spinning.

The secondary meaning of the term referred to an implement, not dissimilar to the first in its later forms, used for carding, that is straightening the fibres of WOOL or FLAX etc. preparatory to spinning. It was made by setting short WIRE lengths into LEATHER, sometimes called a 'card cloth' fixed to cardboards, and used in pairs or with one hand-held card and another fixed to a stock (hence STOCK CARD). This type of card was put to a variety of uses, and so acquired a number of descriptors, hence TOW CARD, WOOLCARD, etc. [Inventories (1569)] and [Inventories (1578)] give useful detail on the craft of making cards, the card makers'tools are dscribed and illustrated by Randle Holme [Holme (2000)].

OLD Cards were recycled and used in different stages of the manufacture of TEXTILEs. This gave many opportunities for deceit, a matter of concern to governments, which were furthermore fearful of harmful competition from abroad. These concerns were reflected in legislation such as [Acts (1597)] and [Acts (1662)] prohibiting the importation of foreign cards and, in the case of the latter, of refurbishing old cards and selling them as new.

A completely different meaning coming from a different primary root referred to a flat piece of stiff PAPER or thin PASTEBOARD, usually rectangular and small, with a surface used to write, print or draw upon, or for other purposes. Usually, the cards were small and often heavily glazed. Typical of this type was the PLAYING CARD, and the SEA CARD.

During the eighteenth century a number of different uses were found for small cards, their proliferation expedited by the spread of printing technology. Printers and stationers fabricated cards to suit many occasions, mainly those that facilitated social intercourse; hence calling card, MESSAGE CARD, invitation card, and the like. It seems to have been a competitive market and there is some evidence of branding, as in 'Dobbs Embossed Cards'. The formal visit to leave one's card was very much an eighteenth-century manifestation of Society's obsession with politeness. The practice gave rise to various receptacles for holding or keeping cards such as CARD CASE, CARD PAN and CARD RACK.

As packaging and the use of samples became more developed, various items of haberdashery, and in particular BUTTONs and PINs, but also BUCKLEs and RIBBONs, were fixed on cards for easy sale and for display. Entries like 'Cards pinns & needles' [Inventories (1680)] and 'Washed silk lace upon 4 cards' [Inventories (1682)] are quite common and show how the packaging of small items developed. Some of these were made into PATTERN CARDs to act as a form of advertising, particularly directed by the producer to the retailer. In this case, instead of a card covered with identical articles, one example of each variety was shown to demonstrate the range available.

It is not always straightforward to deduce from the context which type of card is meant though stock cards were generally more valuable than WOOL CARDs. Otherwise one is dependent on context, which is only sometimes helpfuls.

OED earliest date of use: 1400/1 for the cards employed to raise a nap

Found described as BEST, blank, CHILD, 'Dobb's embossed', FINE, HEMP, HOUSEWIFE, HURD, LARGE, odd, ORDINARY, 'for play', 'to play on', PLAIN, SECOND HAND, SMALL, 1d ware Found describing BOX
Found marketed by DOZEN, GROSS, PAIR, SET

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Holme (2000).

Card case

A case for visiting cards or MESSAGE CARDs and the like, suitable for carrying in the pocket so that the cards are readily available when one calls.

Not found in the OED but found in Websters

Sources: Tradecards.

Card lace

Possibly narrow LACE suitable for winding round a CARD for easy storage or display. The 'Washed silk lace upon 4 cards' listed in [Inventories (1682)] is probably an example of this practice.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Card leaf

According to Randle Holme, the card leaf was an alternative name for a CARDBOARD. This was a flat shovel-shaped piece of wood, made by a woodman. The card maker would fit to this the leather (sometimes called a card cloth), already armed with WIRE or IRON teeth in order to complete the CARD [Holme (2000)].

OED earliest date of use: 1688 for leaf only used in this sense

Found described as LARGE Found in units of BUNCH, DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Holme (2000).

Card nail

[card tack; card neal]

Under 'Nail Types, those with heads', Randle Holme listed 'Tack Nails, or Card-makers Tacks' [Holme (2000)], which is a slightly different term from that found in the Dictionary Archive, but apparently refers to the same thing. They would have been used by a CARD maker to attach the leather ready armed with its wires to the CARD LEAF or CARDBOARD to make a complete CARD.

Found in units of HUNDRED

See also CARD TACK.
Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Holme (2000).

Card pan

A card pan was a flat, tray-like receptacle, presumably intended to be placed in the entry hall to receive the cards of those paying formal visits. [Patents (1786)] indicates that they were among the fashionable knick-knacks that were made out of new materials like PAPER MACHE.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Patents.

Card rack

A rack for holding MESSAGE CARDs and other similar cards such as business or visiting cards. The card rack, like the CARD PAN, was one of the fashionable accessories to FURNITURE that were often made using new techniques of decoration such a LACQUERing.

OED earliest date of use: 1826

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.

Card table

Also found as 'carding table', this was a small table, usually made of made of a decorative wood, on which to play, more often to gamble, with PLAYING CARDs or DICE. Card tables were usually placed in one of the public rooms like the 'best parlour' and were often associated in sales for FURNITURE with other fashionable TABLES, such as the TEA TABLE, PEMBROKE TABLE, etc.

Found described as circular, ELEGANT, inlaid, OLD, pillar Found made of MAHOGANY, SATIN WOOD, WALNUT

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.

Card tack

Card TACKs were described by Randle Holme as 'the small Nails which Nails the List about the Leaf to hold it on the Board' [Holme (2000)], that is, they were a type of TACK used to fix together the two main parts of a WOOL CARD, or any of the other sorts of card used for ordering fibres before spinning.

See also CARD TACK.
Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000).

Card wire


WIRE, either of BRASS or IRON (and then sometimes called WHITE WIRE), suitable for making into CARDS. [Acts (1597)] prohibited the importation of card wire to protect wire drawers at home; a prohibition repeated in [Acts (1662)], which also claimed that the best iron thread (commonly called white wire) was made in England and that it was only to be used to make WOOL CARDs. The act furthermore prohibited the practice of putting old wire in new leather and new boards. Randle Holme [Holme (2000)] includes a sketch of the wire cutters used by CARD makers to set the wire into the leather backing of a card.

OED earliest date of use but no definition: 1597

Found described as FOREIGN
Found marketed by LB, STONE

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early).
References: Holme (2000).

Cardamom lozenges

[cardamum lozenges]

CARDAMOM lozenges have been noted offered for sale only once in the Dictionary Archive, in a context that leaves it unclear whether they were intended for medicinal purposes or merely as a SWEETMEAT. Possibly this was intentional. Although the Lesser Cardamom was in the Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)] and used to relieve complaints of the lungs, it also has a pleasant taste [Tradecards (1800)].

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of small BOX

See also LOZENGE.
Sources: Tradecards.


[card-board; card board]

This term is found virtually indiscriminately as 'cardboard' and as 'card board'. Most often the former referred to thin PASTEBOARD suitable for making PLAYING CARDs, BOXes, etc., while the latter, particularly when in the plural, referred to the base wooden plate, sometimes called a CARD LEAF and illustrated in Randle Holme [Holme (2000)], of a WOOL CARD or STOCK CARD. However, this distinction was not always made and therefore cannot be depended upon. Context may be of assistance in deciding what was intended; cardboard in the former sense was usually stocked by stationers, while the latter may be found in the workrooms of a card maker.

OED earliest date of use: 1858 in the former sense, 1688 in the latter

Found in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books as 'card boards' Found described as OLD, WOOL
Found in units of GROSS Found rated by the SMALL GROSS

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates, Tradecards.
References: Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1998), Holme (2000).

Cardboard work

TOYs made of CARDBOARD such as decorative BOXes. Johanna Schopenhauer, a visitor from Germany, commented upon the cardboard work she saw displayed in the windows of LONDON shops, suggesting there was quite a market for such ware by the end of the eighteenth century [Diaries (Schopenhauer)].

Sources: Diaries.

Carded wool

Short-fibred WOOL dressed with hand-held WOOL CARDs or on a carding machine, so that the fibres all lie the same way and are fit for spinning. The cost of carding seems to have varied markedly. In 1663 [Diaries (Moore)], Giles Moore paid less than a penny for carding a small quantity of WOOL, and in [Diaries (Lindfield)] it was recorded that STOCKCARDing cost much the same. Somewhat later, Timothy Burrel gave the costs of carding wool at about 3d LB [Diaries (Burrell)]. During the eighteenth century there were a number of patents to protect methods of carding mechanically, for example [Patents (1748)] and [Patents (1748)] both in the same year.

OED earliest date of use: 1547

Found described as border, FINE

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Tradecards.

Carding bench

Found only in the 'Carding shop' of a Birmingham TOY maker [Inventories (1764)]. From the equipment listed with it, for example a CARDING PUNCH, the bench was probably designed for preparing pieces of CARD or PASTE BOARD ready for fixing onto them BUTTONS or other similar pieces of HABERDASHERY. [Newspapers (1790)] is a BUTTON maker's advertisement for 'a compleat Warehouse woman that understands the Carding, but more particularly the wrapping up of Buttons.' These two records suggest that by the second half of the eighteenth century the carding and packaging of small items of HABERDASHERY like buttons and BUCKLEs had become a separate craft undertaken by specialist workers.

The meaning of 'carding' in this context is not given in the OED

Sources: Inventories (late).

Carding punch

[carding punche]

It has been noted in the Dictionary Archive only once in the 'Carding shop' of a Birmingham TOY maker [Inventories (1764)]. From the context it would seem that it used in conjunction with a CARDING BENCH for making holes in pieces of CARD or PASTEBOARD on which BUTTONs or like items of HABERDASHERY could be fixed ready for sale. It cannot have been dissimilar to the 'Card-makers Prickell' described and illustrated by Randle Holme, and used by a CARD maker.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Randle Holme (1688), III/9/9.

Carduus water

[carduus-water; cardus water]

A medicinal water 'of lesse vertue' than the other forms in which the CARDUUS benedictus was used [Gerard (1633, facs. 1975)]. It was produced either by distillation or by infusion of the leaves. It has been found included among SIMPLE WATERS. Although the herbalists did not suggest it for this purpose, Nicholas Blundell dosed his daughter with it 'for a Vomit' [Diaries (Blundell)]. The term seems also to have been used pejoratively to mean nonsense.

OED earliest date of use: 1613

Found in units of LB

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Gerard (1633, facs. 1975).