Etruscan - Eyebright 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, 'Etruscan - Eyebright water', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online [accessed 23 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Etruscan - Eyebright water", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 23, 2024,

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Etruscan - Eyebright water", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 23 June 2024,

In this section


Interest in Etruria became fashionable in the mid-eighteenth century, particularly after Josiah Wedgwood developed a way of making VASEs in imitation of ancient pottery discovered in Etruria, and patented by him [Patents (1769)]. George Lichtenberg described in 1775 how Boulton's factory in Soho in Birmingham had picked up the fashion, and were making 'coffee-trays of paper and all kinds of other vessels, black with orange figures in the style of Etruscan vases, which are indescribably handsome' [Diaries (Lichtenberg)]. In the same year, Lord Willoughby purchased a 'Fine Etruscan Tea Cade with Figures @ 52/6 [Tradecards (1775)].

OED earliest date of use: 1768

Found describing COFFEE TRAY, TEA CADDY

Sources: Diaries, Patents, Tradecards.


The OED's preferred spelling is 'etui'. However the most common usage in the early modern period appears to have been 'etwee'. Originally a CASE for surgical instruments, subsequently a small CASE, usually ornamental, for small articles such as a BODKIN, NEEDLEs, TOOTHPICK, etc., they became both popular and fashionable in the eighteenth century and were widely advertised. For example, in one extensive catalogue were listed 'Pocket Housewives, and Etwees, Every sort and price you please' along with 'Etwee Cases, with silver Instruments, inlaid with gold' [Tradecards (1794)], while a 'Stone & Gilt Etwee' cost the fashionable Mrs Hill 90s in the 1750s [Tradecards (1751)].

OED earliest date of use: 1611in the first sense; 1657 in the second

Found described as GILT, with SILVER instruments, STONE

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.



A genus of the Natural Order Compositae, abundant in America, but of which only one species, Eupatorium cannabinum, or HEMP agrimony, is British. In pharmacy it was sometimes called Agrimonia, though this has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. It was believed to cure jaundice, and still finds its place in modern herbal medicine [Wren (1941)], though it was not in the mid-eighteenth century Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)].

OED earliest date of use: 1578

Found as a SYRUP

See also AGRIMONY.
Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Pemberton (1746), Wren (1941).


[uphorbiu'; ewforbiu'; euphorbiu'; euphorbiu; euphorbeu'; euphorb]

A GUM resin or latex imported from the north African coast obtained from certain succulent species of Euphorbia, especially Euphorbia resinfera. This substance forms in irregular pieces, usually about ½ INCH in diameter and often perforated where it formed round the stem. It is an extremely acrid substance, formerly used as an emetic and purgative. The powder causes violent sneezing [Wren (1941)]. Although still found in modern herbals, it seems to have died out of use after 1700, and was not in the mid-eighteenth century Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)].

OED earliest date of use: c1400

Found in the form of OIL
Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: Wren (1941).


[ever lasting]

A material used in the sixteenth century and the seventeenth for the military dress and for outer wear generally, apparently identical with DURANCE. The term was later applied to another durable CLOTH, strongly twilled, also called LASTING, used, among other purposes, for ladies' SHOEs [Montgomery (1984)], as in the advertisement for 'a large Quantity of Damask and Everlasting Shoes, of several colours' [Newspapers (1751)]. This term was also applied in other circumstances when durability was the main characteristic, for example to the embroidered edging for underclothing, which was called EVERLASTING trimming.

OED earliest date of use: 1590-1607

Found described as BLACK, PLAID, RED, SCARLET Found describing WAISTCOAT
Found in units of YARD

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


[yewe; ew]

A female SHEEP. The gender of sheep was rarely mentioned in probate documents, so references to ewes are relatively rare. However, it may be assumed that most flocks had a substantial proportion of ewes, which were kept for their WOOL and for MEAT as well as for breeding. According to Gervase Markham, ewes were 'fit for generation' from the age of two years until ten, and were then 'only for the Shambles'. Sheep were also valued for their milk in some parts of the country, hence Ewe BUTTER [Diaries (Fell)]. According to John Houghton the SKIN of a ewe was better for PARCHMENT than that from a male sheep, because of being less greasy [Houghton].

OED earliest date of use: 1000

Found describing BUTTER, SHEEP
Found in units of SCORE

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (late).


[ywer; yoyar; yower; yore; yewer; yeuar; yeower; ure; uore; eywer; ewre; ewere; eur; euar; eawer]

A PITCHER with a wide spout. It was used to bring water for washing the hands and therefore were often associated with a BASIN as in 'mashlyn basen and Uores' [Inventories (1562)]. These two were in daily use in better households until the introduction of the table FORK, being used for keeping the hands clean at table [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)]. Thereafter ewers became less common, but never disappeared. Most ewers were made of metal.

OED earliest date of use: c1325

Found described as GILT, PLAIN, Water Found made of BRASS, EARTHEN, LATTEN, MASLIN, PEWTER, STONE, TIN
Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Gloag (1952, revised 1991).

Excelsa balsamum

[exilo balsanu']

A medicinal preparation of some sort, apparently imported, since it was rated [Rates (1582)], and found once as 'Exilo balsanu'' in the shops [Inventories (1624)].

Not found in the OED

Found described as COARSE
Found in units of OZ Found rated by the POUND

See also BALSAM.
Sources: Inventories (early), Rates.


In pharmacy, an uncommon generic name given to what was perceived as a morbid growth, or a protruberant swelling on an animal or vegetable body. It is not known what medicinal products would have been included under this heading, but GALL and JEWS EAR are likely candidates for 'excrescients of trees' and BEZOAR and CRABS EYE for 'excrescients of animalls'. In the only example in the Dictionary Archive, the former were valued at much less than the latter [Inventories (1637)].

OED earliest date of use: 1578

Found described as of Animal, of TREE
Found in units of LB, POUND

Sources: Inventories (early).


A common term used for medicinal and other products in the early-modern period that seems to have had much the same meaning as ESSENCE, hence entries like 'Producing an essence or extract, from which fine spruce beer may be made' [Patents (1772)]. One of the purposes of such extracts was to facilitate making some product when the usual raw materials were not available; as for example, in the patent for 'Reducing malt and hops into a solid essence or extract for making beer at sea and in distant climates' [Patents (1778)]. For reasons now unexplained, whereas an ESSENCE was extracted from various HERBs like CELERY, MINT, PARSELY, THYME and even ONION, an extract was made from SHALLOT [Tradecards (1800)]; [Tradecards (18c.)]. Extract of LIQUORICE was in the mid-eighteenth century Pharmacopoeia, as were extracts of LOGWOOD, PERUVIAN BARK, LIGNUM VITAE, and JALAP [Pemberton (1746)].

OED earliest date of use: 1590

Found made from HOPS, LIQUORICE, MALT, SHALLOT, Zinc

Sources: Houghton, Patents, Tradecards.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Extractum gentianae

[gent e chio; extract gentian; ex't gent]

According to Pemberton's Pharmacopoeia, the extract of GENTIAN was made by boiling GENTIAN ROOT in water and subsequent straining. The liquor was then reboiled until 'the consistence of a pill' [Pemberton (1746)]. The result would have been very bitter. It was probably added to medicines intended to relieve indigestion.

Found described by CHIO
Found in units of DRAM

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


[ey; eie; ei]

A loop of metal or THREAD and especially the eye used in the fastening of a GARMENT. Eyes are almost always associated with the other part of the fastening as in HOOK AND EYE, but occasionally they are found on their own as in 'a pap'r eyes 8d' [Inventories (1701)].

OED earliest date of use: 1599

Found in units of PAPER

Sources: Inventories (late).

Eye balsam

[eye balsom]

Presumably a medical preparation of a soothing or curative nature for use with the eyes

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of BOX

Sources: Diaries.

Eye glass

[eye glasse; eye and reading glasses]

Originally a MAGNIFYING GLASS or microscope, but later a lens of GLASS or CRYSTAL for assisting defective sight. The only example in the Dictionary Archive is in an advertisement: 'Eye and Reading Glasses in great variety of mountings' [Tradecards (19c.)].

OED earliest date of use: 1767

Sources: Tradecards.

Eye water

A lotion for the eye. John Gerard quoted (and translated) the couplet ' Of Fennel, Roses, Vervain, Rue, and Celandine, Is made a water good to cleere the sight of eine' [Gerard (1633, facs. 1975)]. Of these FENNEL WATER, ROSE WATER and CELANDINE WATER have been noted in the Dictionary Archive, along with EYEBRIGHT WATER and ELDER FLOWER WATER, which was also used for this purpose.

OED online earliest date of use: 1679

Found in units of BOTTLE

See also EYE BALSAM.
Sources: Diaries.
References: Gerard (1633, facs. 1975).

Eyebright tea

[eye bright tea]

An infusion recommended by a physician to treat eye problems [Diaries (Blundell)]. Eyebright was the popular name of Euphrasia officinalis, which was reputed to be a remedy for weak eyes. Presumably the infusion was called a TEA either because it was made in a similar fashion, or to give it, by association, some of the benefits supposedly gained by drinking that beverage.

OED earliest date of use for Eyebright: 1533, eyebright tea is not found in the OED online

Sources: Diaries.

Eyebright water

[eiebrighte water]

As the name suggests, eyebright, Euprasia officinalis, was held as a sovereign remedy for weakness of the eye, though it was not part of the mid-eighteenth century Materia Medica. Nicholas Culpeper commented caustically that if the 'Herb was but as much used as it is neglected, it would half spoil the spectacle makers trade'. He suggested the juice or the distilled water could be taken internally or 'dropped into the eyes' [Culpeper (1792)].

Not found as such in the OED online

Found described as WHITE

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Culpeper (1792).