Confectio alkermes - Corkscrew

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Confectio alkermes - Corkscrew', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Confectio alkermes - Corkscrew", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Confectio alkermes - Corkscrew", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

In this section

Confectio alkermes

[confectuall kermis; confection of alchermies; confectio alkermis; confectio alcarmus; confect' allcarmes; alkermes confectio]

A CONFECTION made from KERMES JUICE that was, according to Quincy (1721), one of the 'five great COMPOSITIONs of the Shops'. Nicholas Culpeper gave a recipe for it, which he claimed was simplified version compared with earlier ones, having 'All the superfluous Ingredients and troublesome Parts of the Process' removed, including the inclusion of GOLD [Recipes (Culpeper)]. An even simpler recipe was included in the eighteenth-century Pharmocopoeia, where the other ingredients were reduced to three; ROSEWATER, SUGAR, and oil of CINNAMON [Recipes (Pemberton)].

OED earliest date of use: 1605 under Alkermes

Found in units of DRACHM, OUNCE, OZ Found rated by the OUNCE

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Congou tea

[congou leaf; congo tea; congo; co_g_ tea]

A kind of BLACK TEA, and according to Simmonds, congou tea (derived from the Chinese term 'kung-fu' meaning 'labour') was made from one of the later pickings from the plant, resulting in a coarser product than the earlier crops that gave PEKOE TEA and SOUCHONG TEA. Only the BOHEA TEA was said to be inferior [Simmonds (1906)]. In one advertisement, 'Congou' was priced from 6s to 8s per LB, while 'Congou Leaf' was at a mere 5s [Newspapers (1780)]. It is not understood how this differed from the usual Congou teas.

OED earliest date of use: 1725

Found described as finest, GOOD
Found in units of CANISTER of 35-105 LB, LB

Sources: Acts, Inventories (late), Newspapers.
References: Simmonds (1906).

Conserve of damask roses

[conserves of damaske roses; conserve damaske roses; cons' of damaske roses]

A CONSERVE made with the petals of the DAMASK ROSE. These were particularly sweetly scented and, produced in abundance, they were therefore very suitable for this CONFECTIONERY. Probably much so-called CONSERVE OF ROSES was the same product under a slightly different label.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (early).

Conserve of violets

[cons'ua violaru'; conserve of vyolettes; cons' of vyoletts]

A CONSERVE made with VIOLETs. This product does not seem to have been so widely available in the shops as SYRUP OF VIOLETS, and unlike that, the conserve did not gain a place in the mid-eighteenth century London Dispensatory [Pemberton (1746)]. To complicate matters it was sometimes listed merely as 'violets', as in 'Violets 1 li 8 oz at 2s p' li' [Inventories (1634)] where only the context suggests that a conserve was intended. It may thus appear more uncommon than it actually was.

A recipe in 'The Queen's Delight' for 'Conserves of Violets the Italian manner' suggests that it mitigated 'The heat of the Choller, extinguisheth thirst, asswageth the belly, and helpeth the Throat of hot hurts ...' [Recipes (Queens)].

Not found in the OED

Found in units of LB, OZ

Sources: Inventories (early), Recipes.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Cool spattle

[coole spattle; coal spattle]

An IMPLEMENT found among the equipment of a SUGAR maker [Inventories (1674)]. By analogy with the 'plough spattle', which was used to scrape the PLOUGH clean, the cool spattle may have been a scraper to remove the crystalline sugar from the inside of moulds and the like.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).


[coom; combe; comb]

The earliest uses of this term are for a vessel or cup, or a small measure. The same term later came to be applied in brewing to a much larger vessel akin to a brewing tub or vat, and was called a BREWING COOMB. At about the same time it was used as a measure, most particularly a dry measure of a capacity equal to four BUSHEL, or half a QUARTER. It has been noted in the Dictionary Archive in this sense measuring GRAIN, MALT, PEAS and SALT.

Houghton found that the coomb invariably contained four bushels, but this begs the question as to the standardization of the latter measure, which he noted as varying from place to place [Houghton].

OED earliest date of use: 791-6 in the first sense; a1400 as a brewing vessel; 1418 as a dry measure

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

Coopers rod

An uncommon term for the flexible ROD of wood for making into the HOOP used to bind a BARREL or other COOPERY WARE.

Not found in the OED

See also WHITE ROD.



Found elsewhere as 'Coopees', this is a TEXTILE, probably of COTTON or SILK, included by Milburn among the INDIAN - PIECE GOODS imported from Bengal [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. It has not been noted in the authorities on textiles, except for a reference with no detail by Leif Wilhelmsen [Wilhelmsen (1943)]. Coopes were seen as a threat to British manufacture and therefore banned for home use, though they continued to be imported for re-export to Africa [Acts (1766)].

OED earliest date of use: 1552 applied to DAMASK; 1552-3 to SILK

Sources: Acts, Rates.
References: Wilhelmsen (1943), Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).

Copper nail

[copper-nail; copper naile]

A NAIL, also referred to as a COMPOSITION - NAIL (though not in the Dictionary Archive) and erroneously called a COPPER nail. It was made of mixed metal and used for nailing down COPPER SHEET [OED, Composition]. Randle Holme described and illustrated a 'Cooler or cooling Pan; ... made all of copper plate nailed together with strong copper nailes' [Holme (2000)]. A similar object was probably referred to in the entry in a brazier's inventory of 'boylers, & cop' nailes' valued together at over £4 [Inventories (1682)]. Presumably they were in reality much more like rivets. Copper nails were included in 1640 in a list of nails, where they were coupled with CHAIR NAIL, ROSE NAIL, and SADDLE NAIL, so it is possible that the term also referred to copper nails used decoratively.

OED online earliest date of use: 1640 under Rose nail

Found described as OLD
Found in units of LB Found rated by the SUM of 10, 000

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Holme (2000).


Not located as such in the OED online, but there is an early reference (c1390) to 'Corat', a type of curry dish. In the Dictionary Archive, coratch appears in the promotional literature as a RICH SAUCE placed among other PICKLEs [Tradecards (19c.)] and as a PREPARED SAUCE 'to eat with Beef Stakes, Veal Cutlets, Mutton Chops, &c' [Tradecards (1800)]. It seems likely that it would have been highly flavoured like most of the other so-called rich sauces.

Found in units of BOTTLE, CASE

Sources: Tradecards.


[courd; corde; coard; chord]

A STRING composed of several strands twisted or plaited together, usually applied to thin ROPE. It had a large number of uses. Its most frequent appearance in the Dictionary Archive is as an abbreviated version of the BED CORD, as in 'j bedsteads with the cords' [Inventories (1587)]. It was an important aid to securing packages, and was often given a descriptor to indicate this as MAILING CORD.

The list contains some of the many types of cord noted, in some cases only once, in the Dictionary Archive.

For lacing:


MATTRESS cord [Inventories (1633)]

Stay cord [Tradecards (18c.)]

For packaging or securing:

FODGE cord [Inventories (1708)]

HAY cord [Inventories (1589)]


PACK cord [Inventories (1701)]

Scaffolding cord [Inventories (1724)]

WANTY cord [Inventories (1580)]

For decoration:

FRENCH cord [Tradecards (18c.)]

GOLD cord [Inventories (1750)]

SILVER cord [Inventories (1725)]

The cord was also a measure of capacity for cut WOOD, especially wood that had been prepared for FUEL, generally of a double 4 FOOT cube containing about 128 cubic FOOT. The word in this sense owed its origin to the fact that it once represented the amount contained within a CORD or ROPE of defined length.

OED earliest date of use: 1300 as a piece of string or rope; 1616 as a unit of measure

As a piece of string or rope: Found described as Bearing, Blocking, Braided, COARSE, DUTCH, FINE, LARGE, LITTLE, LONG, PENNY, Sconce, SMALL Found made of COTTON, GOLD, HEMP, LINEN, MOHAIR, SILKSILVER, WORSTED Found describing INKLE
Found in units of DOZEN, LB, POUND, ROLL, STONE

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

Cord wood

WOOD for fuel, usually cut into lengths of 4 feet. This type of prepared wood is more often expressed in a given number of CORD, a known and defined measure, as in 'About Six Cord of Wood some ffaggotts & some Charcoale' [Inventories (1729)]. The importance of wood as a fuel and the problems of carrying it over any distance is reflected in one advertisement for 'upwards of a thousand cords of wood, Part thereof fine and standing within less than two and the Remainder not more than four, miles from Landing Places on the River Severn below the New Key' [Newspapers (1760)]. This is a useful corrective to the paucity of references to cordwood as such in the Dictionary Archive.

OED earliest date of use: 1638-9

Found described as BRITISH

See also CORD.
Sources: Inventories (late).



CABLE, ROPE and CORD collectively or in the mass, especially those used for rigging a ship. By the mid-eighteenth century cordage was deemed sufficiently important to be included among MILITARY STORES and SHIPS STORES [Acts (1781)], and all that entailed in terms of regulation and protection. For example, in 1785 it was required that any cordage made from a quality lower that clean 'Peterborough Hemp' was to be sold as '... inferior Cordage' [Acts (1785)].

OED earliest date of use: 1598

Found described as BRITISH, FOREIGN, made from TOPPED HEMP, TARRED, Untarred Found describing YARN
Found in units of C, LB, QU Found imported from DANTZIG, HOLLAND, PORTUGAL, SWEDEN by the C, LB, TON Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT of 112 LB

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



The term has several meanings. In the Dictionary Archive it is most commonly used in reference to a TEXTILE with raised lines or stripes on the surface like CORDUROY. It was also applied to a BEDSTEAD furnished with BED CORD, as in '1 Corded Bedstead' [Inventories (1699)], and furthermore it was used for WOOD that had been cut and turned into CORD WOOD. Finally, the term could have been used to describe a package already parcelled and tied up, ready for transportation, though this use has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive.

OED earliest date of use: 1760-72

Found describing BEDSTEAD

See also CORDED CUP.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.

Corded cup

[corded cup]

This is a term not found in the dictionaries, but it appears twice in the Dictionary Archive. In each case, the corded cup seem to have formed part of a part of a BUTTON, presumably the cup shaped base on which the decorative part of the button is built up, though why 'corded' is not clear. They are distinguished from 'plain Cups' [Inventories (1764)].

Not found in the OED

Found described as LARGE
Found in units of GROSS, POUND

Sources: Inventories (late).


[cordyall; cordil; cordiall]

The term refers to a medicine, food or beverage which invigorates the heart and stimulates the circulation, otherwise a comforting and stimulating drink, and it is also used as a descriptor for other preparations that had similar effects. Like many other medicinal preparations, it ranged from official recognition, as did for example the Confectio cardiaca, or the Cordial confection [Pemberton (1746)], to QUACK MEDICINE. Consequently, one or two cordials attracted what almost amounted to a BRAND NAME, in particular, BOSTOCKS CORDIAL and GODFREYs CORDIAL. Recipes abounded, furthermore, and many of them acquired a patina of respectability by being attached to the name of some notable person, like ' That Excellent Cordial, called The Countess of KENT'S Powder' [Newspapers (1655)]. It is hardly surprising that a drink or food believed to promote comfort should have been highly esteemed during times when there were few effective medicines.

OED earliest date of use: c1386

Found in units of LB, OUNCE, POUND

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Cordial water

[cordiall water; cordiall stilled waters]

Not distinguished from CORDIAL by the OED. However, Cordial alone does not necessarily imply an alcoholic drink, whereas cordial water does, and it was rated among the SPIRITS in 1784.

Not found as such in the OED

Found described as 'good against Mallancholy', RICH
Found in units of GALLON, QUART Found listed under SPIRITS, rated by the GALLON

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



The term can refer to CORDs collectively, to CORDAGE and to corded work. Most if not all of the descriptors used for cording were also used for CORD, suggesting that the two terms were interchangeable to a large extent. In the entry 'Cording Breeches', however, CORDUROY was probably intended [Newspapers (1790)].

OED first date of use: 1571

Found described as BOX, FINE, HAIR, SMALL, TAR Found made of SILK, SILVER, WORSTED
Found in units of BUNCH, DOZEN, LB, POUND, YARD

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


[cordyvant; cordovant; cordovan; cordivat; cordivant; cordifend; cordevant; cord]

A type of LEATHER and identical with, or similar to, SPANISH LEATHER. It was first made at Cordova in Spain, and had long been popular in England, giving its name to the cordwainer or shoemaker. Cordivant was made of KID SKIN or GOATSKIN that was TANNED and DRESSED, but later split HORSE HIDE was used instead. It was imitated widely, and by 1660, it was imported from Turkey and East India. These imports were much less highly rated than those from Spain [Rates (1660)]. At about the same time, its manufacture began in England and it was much used for SHOEs and GLOVES. The term was in fact sometimes used elliptically for gloves made of it [Inventories (1668)].

OED earliest date of use: 1128 as Cordwain; 1676 as Cordivant

As a skin: Found described as DRESSED, EAST INDIA, TURKEY, SCOTCH Found describing BOOT, SKIN Found in units of BUNDLE, DOZEN, PIECE Found imported by the DOZEN Found rated by the DOZEN Skin
As gloves: Found described as Seamed Found in units of PAIR

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


[curlderoy; culderoy; cordry; cordoroy; corderoy]

The term comes from the French 'Corde du Roy', though the fabric does not seem to have been of French origin. Leif Wilhemsen suggests that 'the word represents an English formation, a trade name coined by some smart manufacturer with a view to exploiting, not only the publicity value of association with royalty, but also the prestige of everything French in the field of textiles and fashion.' In France the term was translated into English, and has been noted there in an advertisement in 1807 as 'kings-cordes' [Wilhelmsen (1943)].

Sometimes abbreviated to CORD or cords, corduroy was a kind of COARSE - TEXTILE, usually of COTTON. It was made with an extra WEFT that formed a pile raised in ridges or cords in the direction of the WARP [Montgomery (1984)]. It was worn chiefly by labourers or persons engaged in rough work, hence the frequent references to it describing the BREECHES of absconding apprentices and other like wanted persons.

OED earliest date of use: 1774

Found in units of END, YARD

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents.
References: Montgomery (1985), Wilhelmsen (1943).

Cordwainers tack


Sources: Inventories (late).

Coriander comfit

[colliandor comfett]

A CORIANDER seed coated with SUGAR, very popular as a SWEETMEAT and for its carminative effects.

OED earliest date of use: 1656 under Coriander

See also COMFIT.
Sources: Inventories (early).

Cork tack

[corke tack; corck tack]

A TACK designed to attach a sole or a heel made of CORK to the main body of a SHOE.

Not found in the OED

Found described by IRON, STEEL
Found in units of M Found rated by the THOUSAND

Sources: Rates.


[corkskrew; corkescrew; cork scrue; cork screw]

An instrument for drawing a CORK from a BOTTLE, consisting of a STEEL screw or helix with a sharp point and a transverse handle. Whether they existed before 1700 is not clear. They do not appear in the Dictionary Archive until the second decade of the eighteenth century, though thereafter they appeare quite commonly in the shops, and towards the end of the century a patent was taken out to improve them [Patents (1795)].

OED earliest date of use: 1720

Found described as LONDON WORK, shooting, sorted
Found in units of DOZEN

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