Hamburg - Hammer handle

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

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[hamburgh; hambrow; hambrough; hambro; hambrew; hambray; hamborowe; hamborow; hamborough; hamboro; hamberrow]

A major GERMAN port situated some fifty miles from the sea at the confluence of the River Elbe and its tributary, the Alster, both navigable at least in sections. Hamburg had access to the North Sea, rather than the Baltic, which meant it was an important outlet for many north European goods. In the Middle Ages a network of trading towns had been instituted called the Hanse or Hanseatic League. Hamburg became the most significant harbour of the Hanse, serving as a trans-shipment site for grain, cloth, furs, herrings, spices, timber and metals. Even some products of HUNGARY found it a useful outlet [Acts (1701)]. Although under Danish sovereignty at the time, in 1768 it was recognized as an Imperial Free City able to control its own trade and the activity on the river from the city down to the sea.

The term was frequently used elliptically for HAMBURG LINEN.

OED earliest date of use: 1666

As a LINEN: Found described as WHITE Found in units of ELL, YARD

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

Hamburg bacon

[bacon of westphalia and hamborough]

Probably synonymous with WESTPHALIAN BACON, which would have found an outlet down the river Elbe to HAMBURG.

Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT of 112 POUND

Sources: Rates.

Hamburg beef

Apparently a particular way of preparing BEEF for keeping, a process that probably included drying since one of the big LONDON retailers specialising in the export trade advertised 'Hamboro' Beef, in Ribs & Rolls for grating' [Tradecards (18c.)]. It appears to have been similar, if not identical, to DUTCH BEEF or DRIED BEEF.

Sources: Tradecards.

Hamburg cloth

[hambro cloth; hamborow cloth; hamborow and slecia cloth; hamborough cloth; hamborough and sletia cloth; hamborough & caligo cloth]

A term that was probably synonymous with HAMBURG LINEN.

Found described as BROAD, BROWN, NARROW, WHITE
Found in units of ELL Found rated by the ELL, PIECE of 100 ELL containing 120 ELL

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

Hamburg dowlas

[hambro dowles; hambrew dowlas; hamborough dowlis; hamborough dowlas]

A form of HAMBURG LINEN noted in the Dictionary Archive only in shops of the southern counties. The manufacture of DOWLAS had been established in Southampton by 1622 [Kerridge (1985)], and the imported dowlas may have been given the descriptor 'Hamburg' to distinguish it from the home produced variety. However, according to the anonymous author of 'The Plain dealing Linen Draper', Hamburg dowlas was distinctive in itself. It came in various widths and the PIECE contained only 54 ELL. It also wore with 'prickles or sheaves' and never 'so perfectly white' as FRENCH DOWLAS, which looked very similar when new [Anon (1696)].

Found in units of ELL

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Anon (1696), Kerridge (1985).

Hamburg line

[hamborough line]

A form of LINE and a product coming out from the German port of HAMBURG, whence came many products made of FLAX and HEMP. A London merchant had large quantities [Inventories (1671)], and in the Book of Rates of 1660 it was given as 'Lines of Hamborough for ships' [Rates (1660)], indicating its use.

Found in units of in units of C, LB, QU Found rated by PIECE

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Rates.

Hamburg linen

[hambourgh linnen; hamborrow linnen]

The north GERMAN port of HAMBURG was a major outlet for GERMAN LINEN coming into Britain. The wide range of designations for linens in the Books of Rates may have resulted from attempts by merchants to circumvent custom charges, but it seems more probable that Hamburg linens were seen as distinctive. The term seems to have been used mainly in the Eastern counties of England where there was a indigenous linen industry, although the sample is too small to be certain about this.

The anonymous author of 'The Plain dealing Linen Draper' refered to many German linens that came to this country via Hamburg, including HAMMEL, HEMPEN ROLL, INDERKINS SILESIA LAWN, OZENBRIDGE and TICKLENBURG [Anon (1696)]. Other lines described as of Hamburg include 'Brown Hambrough Holland' at 16d ell [Inventories (1671)] and 'Buckran [i.e. BUCKRAM]- Hamborough black, the piece' [Rates (1657)].

OED earliest date of use: 1642

Found in units of ELL Found rated by the ELL

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: Anon (1696).

Hamburg parsley

A variety of the common form of PARSLEY with large spindle-shaped roots, which are dressed an eaten in similar ways to carrots. Seeds were for sale in some London shops [Tradecards (n.d.)].

OED earliest date of use: 1796

Sources: Tradecards.

Hamburg tick

Probably an abbreviation for TICKLENBURG, which according to the anonymous author of 'The Plain Dealing Linen Draper' came from HAMBURG [Anon (1696)]. Alternatively but less probably, it may have been a particular type of TICK that was associated with Hamburg.

Found in units of PIECE

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Anon (1696).

Hamburg yarn

[hamburgh yarn; hambro' yarn; hamborough yarn]

A LINEN YARN exported to this country through HAMBURG. According John Houghton it was imported and used in Lancashire with COTTON YARN to make DIMITY and FUSTIAN [Houghton]. This may explain why Hamburg yarn was advertised in the MANCHESTER newspapers [Newspapers (1782)]; [Newspapers (1790)].

Found described as WHITE
Found in units of LB

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (late), Newspapers.


[womes; home; holme]

Often found as 'home', the term refers to a curved piece of WOOD or IRON, used in pairs to form the framework of a HORSE COLLAR, with rings each side on to which the traces are attached.

OED earliest date of use: 1303

Found described as HORSE Found in units of PAIR

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


[hammell; hamells]

A NARROW - LINEN CLOTH, of which there were two sorts, FLAXEN and HEMP. According to 'The Plain Dealing Line Draper', 'the first and finest of this sort is often used for Soldiers Shirts, and for Napkins, and often being put three bredths in a Sheet, is very good and lasting for that use; the Hempen is likewise used for ordinary Sheets for Poor People, and for Towels, but seldom wears so well as the finest, it is almost three quarters wide' [Anon (1696)].

Not found in the OED or in the authorities on Textiles

Found described as BROWN, PRINTED
Found in units of ELL

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Anon (1696).


[homer; hammar; ham'er; hamer; hamb'rr; hamb'r; hamber; hambe; hamba; hamar]

An instrument with a hard, solid head, usually of metal, set transversely to the handle, used for beating, breaking, driving NAILs, etc. Hammers were used by almost all craftsmen who worked in metal or wood, or in many other material like IVORY or BONE. Hammers can be classified in may ways, but there are four obvious categories:

1. The hammers held in the hand. These in turn can be subdivided into the HAND HAMMER and the SLEDGE. The first of these can be subdivided in innumerable ways, since almost every trade had its own specialist tools. Most of those found in the Dictionary Archive belonged to blacksmiths, like the 'Rivetting hammer' and the 'Shoeing hammer', or to workers in PEWTER or TIN, like the SPOON HAMMER and the BOUGING HAMMER. But the building trades had their own tools, like the LATHING HAMMER. Randle Holme is a particularly helpful source on the may specialist hammers such as the goldsmith's hammer, which was 'a thick round bodied Hammer, where it receiues it Handle: and then goes Taper to the two ends, which then fly off againe to round Button faces' [Holme (2000)], and a pinner's hammer, which is 'different from most trads mens Hammers, being a thick short head, with a smooth face at both ends with a thick short Handle' [Holme (2000)].

2. The hammers worked by power, either by water or by steam. Probably the earliest of these were the hammers used in BATTERY, but the FORGING HAMMER is another of this type.

3. Components that worked with a percussive action in another mechanism, like the GUN HAMMER in a GUN LOCK, or a Spinet hammer, which struck the strings in a SPINET.

4. WEAPONs like the HORSEMANS HAMMER and the Scotch hammer.


Below is a list of some other types of hammer that appear only occasionally in the Dictionary Archive, with a brief description if known:

AXE hammer - probably similar to what Randle Holme called 'a Slaters, or a Plasterers Hatchet. This is a kind of Hammer-Hatchet, the one end being made like the Hammer face, cross nicked, like a rough File, and the other end like an Hatchet, so that it is made both to drive Nails, and cut Laths or other small Timber' [Holme (2000)]; [Inventories (1780)]. See LATHING HAMMER

Back hammer - precise form and function unknown, but used by a cutler [Inventories (1691)]

Beating hammer - found listed in a brazier's inventory [Inventories (1719)]; see SPOON HAMMER

Block hammer - found associated with 'Tin Patterns' valued at 10s 6d, so probably for shaping TIN ware; found listed in a brass founder's inventory [Inventories (1799)]

Board/boarder hammer - a blacksmith's hammer of unknown type [Inventories (1667)]

Coal hammer - for breaking up large lumps of COAL [Inventories (1639)]

Fore hammer - see SLEDGE

Gilt Hammer - from the context, a small decorative TOY hammer [Inventories (1794)]

Hack hammer - in the nineteenth century it was used for correcting distortions made in the hardening process, and had an obtuse CHISEL edge. A different type was used for dressing the GRIND STONE [Tomlinson (1854)]. Probably it had similar uses previously

Hollowing hammer - according to Randle Holme 'This is so termed by Tyn men, though the both ends are Globicall; but it is because they work, or make Tyn hollow with it' [Holme (2000)]; found listed in a brass founder's inventory [Inventories (1799)]

Nailing hammer - a HAND HAMMER used for hammering in a NAIL; in modern parlance a claw hammer [Inventories (1596)]

Paving hammer - probably a multi-purpose tool with a hammer face on one face and with a pick on the other [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)], [Inventories (1721)]

Polished hammer - probably what is now called a planishing hammer. According to Randle Holme, this was 'a Heavy round bodyed Hamer, haueing a very smooth round polished face, and the hinder part rounded off. The handle is but short' [Holme (2000)]. It is used for giving a good finish to metal objects raised and formed with a hammer; found listed in a tinman's inventory [Inventories (1794)]

Rapping hammer - probably a HAND HAMMER used in working PEWTER [Inventories (1578)]

Riveting hammer - according to Randle Holme 'The first and least' of the hammers and 'very rarely used at the Forge, unless the Work be very small; but upon cold Iron it is used for rivetting, or setting streight, or crooked, small works' [Holme (2000)]

Scotch hammer - a WEAPON rather than a TOOL [Inventories (1637)]

Set hammer - probably what is called today a 'set', that is a shaped piece of iron, which is placed on the sheet of metal to be worked and is then beaten with a mallet or hammer; found in a blacksmith's inventory [Inventories (1667)]

Shoeing hammer - a blacksmith's tool for shoeing horses [Holme (2000)]

SPINET hammer - the hammer like piece in a SPINET that strikes the string when the instrument is played. Found among the stock of the maker of small METAL WARE [Inventories (1733)], rather than a maker of MUSICAL INSTRUMENTs

Stone hammer - presumably for breaking up stones [Inventories (1634)]

Sugar hammer - to break up a SUGAR LOAF; found among the stock of the maker of small METAL WARE [Inventories (1733)]

Taging hammer - a hammer of uncertain shape and function but possibly used in button making [Inventories (1639)]

Upright hammer - a blacksmith's hammer of unknown type, but probably a form of SLEDGE; Randle Holme has 'up-hand Hammer, or up-hand Sledge' [Holme (2000)]; [Inventories (1667)]

OED earliest date of use: 1000

Found described as for forging mills for IRON and COPPER, GREAT, LARGE, LITTLE, NEW, OLD, SMALL, for STAMPs, with wooden handles or without Found made of CAST IRON, IRON
Found in units of CDOZEN, LB, QU Found rated by the DOZEN

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Holme (2000), Rees (1819-20, abridged 1972), Tomlinson (1854).

Hammer cloth


By the mid-sixteenth century a Hammer cloth was a cloth covering the drivers seat or 'box' in a state or family COACH. This definition is applicable to the two references found in the Dictionary Archive. The first is to 'Hammor-Cloth Lace for it and making' [Diaries (Blundell)], and the second to an improved method of waterproofing 'Umbrellas, Hammer-cloths, Riding-coats, Aprons and Hoods' [Tradecards (1790)]. However the OED also carries a quotation dated 1465 in which 'Hamercloth' is a TEXTILE measured by the ELL.

OED earliest date of use: 1465 as a textile; 155- for covering the driver's seat

Found describing LACE

Sources: Diaries, Newspapers.

Hammer handle

[hamer handle]

A HANDLE suitable for fitting to a HAMMER. These handles varied in length according to the use for which the hammer was designed. Some, like the PIN maker's hammer had 'a thick short Handle' [Holme (2000)], while for the SLEDGE hammer the handle could be three FOOT or more in length. Typically, the HAND HAMMER has a handle about 10-12 INCH long. John Houghton considered that HOLLY 'makes the best handles and stocks for tools' [Houghton], or alternatively ASH [Houghton]. Handles were made by a wood turner and fitted either by the user who needed to replace one, or by a general tradesman who sold both the finished product and spare handles; for example, the Brazier who had among his stock 'tooles, hamers, hamer handles' [Inventories (1682)].

In one Book of Rates, hammers were listed 'with wooden handles or without' [Rates (1660)]. A hammer handle was fitted by pushing it through the central hole in the hammer head and was then made firm with a wedge hammered down the centre of the handle end.

Not found in the OED

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