H hinge - Hallcloth

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

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H hinge

A type of external HINGE that has the shape of an H when open. According to Randle Holme, 'this sort of Hinge is used to such kind of Doors, Cubbards, or Presses, which will not admit of breadth, but of height, to have them made fast: and that is through the narrowness of the Timber, or Stiles on the Edges of the Doors and Places where they are fixed' [Holme (2000)]. Like other forms of HINGE, they were sometimes called a JOINT.

OED earliest date of use: 1726

Found described as SMALL
Found in units of DOZEN, PAIR

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

Hair card

A CHARD is described in a dictionary of hairdressing and wig making as 'A steel-toothed instrument for disentangling hair and laying parallel the individual hairs in the strand preparatory to mixing, weaving or knotting, etc' [Cox (1966, pb 1969)]. In the Dictionary Archive cards or hair cards are found among the equipment of those barber surgeons, who also made or serviced WIGs [Inventories (1694)], and peruke makers [Inventories (1737)]. It should not be confused with HARD CARD.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Cox (1966, pb 1989).

Hair comb

Randle Holme explained that it was 'called an Haire combe (because it first readieth the haire by its wide teeth) or a single tooth combe, or Back combe, or Peruwick combe, being principally used by Peruwick makers' [Holme (2000)]. However, the OED's earliest citation suggests that it was also a decorative COMB for use in arrangements of the hair, as is the one described in a newspaper advertisement of the 1770s as 'studded with Gold and Cope de Purl' [Newspapers (1770)].

OED earliest date of use: 1837

Found described as CARVED

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers.
References: Holme (2000).

Hair cord

[hare cording; haire cording; haire cord; haier cord]

The term must not be confused with HAIR CARD. The OED suggests only a TEXTILE in the form of a kind of DIMITY of which the surface is covered with fine stripes so closely placed as to resemble hair. This seems to have been a nineteenth-century term and it does not appear in the Dictionary Archive in this sense. Here, hair cord was the name given to a CORD made of HAIR, probably HORSE HAIR. Entries like 'A Parsell of haier Cords and basen Ropes' [Inventories (1682)] make the meaning plain. In 1712 Nicholas Blundell bought both 'Hare Cording at 8d per Pound' and 'Tarr Cording at 4d ½ per Pound', both for his boat [Diaries (Blundell)]. Two years later, entries in his accounts make explicit that the hair cording was not to make the SAIL as such, but to be used with it [Diaries (Blundell)].

Definition in the OED for the textile only, but no quotation indicating earliest use

Found as 'haire cording for sale cloaths'

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

Hair shag

[haire shagg]

The term refers to a TEXTILE and a form of SHAG with a HAIR pile. The manufacture of the TEXTILE in the form of HAIR - PLUSH was introduced to this country by FLEMISH weavers in the late sixteenth century. Hair shag with a longer pile and less closely woven was made at Spitalfields by the early eighteenth.

Not in the OED

Found described as BLACK, BLUE, for BREECHES, cemented, DRAB, SCARLET
Found in the shops measured by YARD

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Patents, Tradecards.
References: Kerridge (1985), 78-79.

Hair stuff

[stuffs hair; hare stuf]

A TEXTILE in the form of a STUFF in which HAIR was a major component. The term was possibly also applied, though not in the Dictionary Archive, to HAIR, both human and animal, and other allied materials used in the making of WIGs, HAIR SIEVEs, HAIR CLOTH, etc.

Found in units of YARD Found imported PARCEL, YARD

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (mid-period).

Hair water

[water, to wash the hair]

In the Dictionary Archive the term 'hair water' was mainly used to label what might today be called a hair dye. James Stevens Cox suggests it contained SILVER nitrate, which would turn the hair a darker shade [Cox (1966, pb 1969)]. When people chose not to wear a WIG, but their own hair, there seems to have been problems with displaying grey hair. A few retailers offered hair waters that would rectify the problem, such as the 'true Italian Hair Water' [Newspapers (1770)]; [Tradecards (18c.)] and Mrs Gibson's 'Innocent Liquid' [Newspapers (1780)]. The same hair waters would also transform red hair; apparently an unpopular hair-colour at the time. It is perhaps for this reason that preparations based on HENNA seem not to have been available, although it makes a good red hair dye and is in use to this day. An alarming recipe 'To make hair grow black, though any colour' ended with the instruction to 'wet your beard or hair therewith; but touch not the skin'; a wise injunction since the main ingredient was AQUA FORTIS [Recipes (Queens)].

Two centuries earlier, John Baptista Porta had included several preparations to dye hair, some more akin to a shampoo, others in the form of a paste to smear on the hair. He did not, however, use the term 'hair water'. Apart from concoctions to 'make the Hair yellow' and instructions on 'How Gray Hairs are dyed Black', he also included a chapter on 'How to dye the Hair Red'. This he excused by the comment that yellow would not agree with those 'of ruddy Complexions', who apparently for want of better had to make do with a mere improvement on their natural colour [Porta (1658, facs. 1957)].

Some preparations were more akin to a shampoo were also labelled as waters like the 'exceeding fine Water, to wash the Hair and keep it clean' [Newspapers (1760)]. Cox also contains an eighteenth-century recipe for a hair water that was merely a scented water for use on the hair [Cox (1966, pb 1969)].

Not found in the OED

Found described as ITALIAN

See also HENNA.
Sources: Newspapers, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Cox (1966, pb 1989), Porta (1658, facs. 1957).

Halbert head


The head of a HALBERD made of IRON that had to be mounted on a long handle. It consisted of a combination of function and shape of the SPEAR, for thrusting and poking, and the AXE, for felling and cutting. Randle Holme illustrated some fairly elaborate versions as found in heraldry [Holme (2000)].

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Acts.
References: Holme (2000).

Half box

This, the OED suggests, though without a definitive reference, is a BOX that opens on one side. The examples in the Dictionary Archive make it look more plausible that a 'half box' was a recognized, but not necessarily a standard, size of BOX used to contain candied fruit and the like such as FRENCH PLUMs. It presumably held roughly half the quantity of the usual box.

OED earliest date of use: 1885 under Half, but not with the meanings discussed here

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.

Half dressed


The term is used of SKINs, in the sense of having been partially prepared. This was described in one act as having been de-haired, but nothing more. The act implied that the process was carried out before importation and performed on DEERSKINs and BUCKSKINs described as INDIAN and coming from America [Acts (1788)]. The same act suggests that the practice was of long standing, but that the authorities had no intention of allowing traders to claim the same duty for other skins.

Not found in the OED online in this sense

'Half dress', though not found in the Dictionary Archive in this sense, was semi-formal wear in the eighteenth century.

OED online earliest date of use: 1788

Found describing BUCKSKIN, DEERSKIN

Sources: Acts.

Half pint

[half-pint; halff pynt; halff pinte; halfe pynte; halfe pints; halfe pinte; half pinte; dim pinte; d pynte; d pint; ½ pint]

A convenient but unofficial unit of liquid measure, corresponding usually to two GILL or half a PINT. Many vessels were made in standard sizes, and some, ostensibly at least, contained a half pint. Judging by those so described, it would not have been very important to have an exact measure.

OED earliest date of use: 1611 under Half


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

Half shift

A term found only once in the Dictionary Archive, when it was associated with WAISTCOATs [Tradecards (1740)]. The OED does not define the term, but its one quotation suggests that it was the upper part of a SHIFT. One much earlier reference in the Dictionary Archive suggests the SMOCK, an earlier name for the shift, and consisted of two parts, BODIES and SKIRT [Inventories (1564)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1754-64

Sources: Tradecards.

Half shirt


A kind of SHIRT front for men and a form of decorative frontage for women, worn in the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth. The latter article of APPAREL has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. Judging by the examples from Samuel Pepys' diary a half shirt was for summer wear [Diaries (Pepys)].

OED earliest date of use: 1661

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (mid-period).

Half tub

[halfe tubbe; halfe tubb]

HALF was a term applied to various articles of about half the usual size or length, as HALF BARREL or HALF PIECE. The half TUB fits into this group, but what it would have looked like is not clear as tubs had no standard size or shape.

OED online earliest date of use: 1669 under Parelling

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

Halfpenny comb

[ob comb; ½ combe]

Sometimes abbreviated to 'half comb' as in '½ combe' or to 'OB comb', the term refers to a COMB that would be sold for one HALFPENNY, and would often have been found among CHAPMANS WARE or HALFPENNY WARE. At this price the combs would almost certainly have been WOOD COMBs, the cheapest sort available. The mark-up from WHOLESALE to RETAIL, seems to have been considerable, as halfpenny combs have been noted in the shop valued at 6d DOZEN.

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of DOZEN

See also PENNY COMB.
Sources: Inventories (early).

Hall stove

A type of STOVE, fashionable towards the end of the eighteenth century

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.


A TEXTILE and apparently a LINEN CLOTH. In the only reference to it in the Dictionary Archive [Inventories (1626)], it was listed among the linens at 12d-15d per ELL. To judge by the limited information available, it may have been an early form of the eighteenth-century ALLCOMME.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (early).