Happy change - Harrow pins

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

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Happy change

A TEXTILE; a STUFF of such quality as to be valued at over 5s per YARD. Since it has only been found once in the Dictionary Archive, its existence under this name was probably of short duration. It has not been noted in the authorities on textiles.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Hard card

[hurd card]

Almost certainly a CARD (to be used with another in pairs) with which to card HARDS. If this supposition is correct, then it was an IMPLEMENT with iron teeth for setting in order the fibres of TOW, similar to a WOOL CARD but adapted to suit working with HARDS.

Not found in the OED

Found marketed by the PAIR

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

Hard corn

[harde corne; hardcorn; hard corne]

A general name for WHEAT and RYE. The contexts of the three examples in the Dictionary Archive, suggest that it was generally applied to these when growing rather than when in store as in 'Strikes sowing of hard Corne' [Inventories (1675)], and the use of 'acre' as the unit of measure, for example [Inventories (1577)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1608 under Hard

Found in units of acre, STRIKE

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

Hard sugar

[harde loffe sugar; hard suger]

Hard SUGAR is a term that was fairly common in the early part of the period, but has not been noted after 1700. The ways in which it was recorded, such as 'harde loffe Sugar' [Inventories (1587)], and 'Hard suger Double refin'd' [Inventories (1695)] suggest that it was a generic term for all sugars that had been refined as opposed to MUSCOVADO.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of LB, POUND

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

Hards comb

[hurden combe; hurdcombe]

An IMPLEMENT used in pairs, similar to the WOOL COMB exept it was used to process HARDs of FLAX or HEMP rather than WOOL.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of PAIR

Sources: Inventories (early).



An imported LINEN CLOTH, presumably from a place called Harnesdale in the Book of Rates of 1582 [Rates (1582)] and which remains unidentified. It is not mentioned in Wilhelmson, Montgomery or Kerridge.

Not found in the OED

Found describing CLOTH
Found rated by the PIECE containing 30 ELL

Sources: Rates.


[harnys; harnisse; harniss; harnish; harnise; harnesse; harnese; harnes; harneis; arnes]

OED is uncertain about the origins of the term, as several distinct meanings seem to have appeared at the same time, suggesting an earlier root. In the broadest sense, the term 'harness' meant equipment or gear, but it appears to have had, generally as well as in the Dictionary Archive, several specific meanings. The first of these was as a generic term for the defensive armour of foot soldiers and men at arms, more precisely MENS HARNESS. This included a variety of separate pieces each designed to cover a particular part of the body such as ALMAIN RIVETS, CORSLET, CURAT, DEMILANCE, GAUNTLET, HEAD PIECE, MORIAN, SALLET and SKULL. A typical phrase identifying 'harness' in this sense is 'harness for a man xs' [Inventories (1551)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: c1330

The second meaning was for HORSE HARNESS. Harness in this sense originally including that used in riding, but by the early modern period use was almost entirely confined to the gear or tackle of a draught horse, such as CART HARNESS, COACH HARNESS, PLOUGH HARNESS and THILL HARNESS. Harness in this sense was often associated with the HORSE it was designed for, as in 'vj horses w'th ther harnese' [Inventories (1597)], or with the vehicle with which it would be used, as in 'Post Chaise and Harness' [Inventories (1783)], or 'Fine new Italian Chaise and Harness' [Newspapers (1750)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1303

Other meanings include the metal work of a GIRDLE, the importation of which was forbidden in the 1560s to protect home manufacture [Acts (1562)], and the apparatus in a LOOM by which sets of WARP threads are shifted alternately to form the shed, that is the space through which the SHUTTLE may be passed. In this sense a weaving harness may be identified by such phrases as '18 slayes and Harnises' valued in all at 18s [Inventories (1646)], and 'Hevells yarn poles & weaveing Harnes worth £6 in all' [Inventories (1711)].

OED earliest date of use: 1483 with GIRDLE; 1572 with a LOOM

As MENS HARNESS: Found rated by the HARNESS, PIECE
As HORSE HARNESS: Found in units of PAIR

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

Harness brush

[harnish brushe]

A BRUSH for use on HARNESS, and particularly for COACH HARNESS [Inventories (1747)]; [Newspapers (1763)]. Examples of 'harness cleaning brushes' were advertised in the 1890s by an American firm, coming in sets of two or three 'for Cleaning, Blacking and Polishing' [Moseman (1892, facs. 1990)]. The harness on coach horses was a much for display as for use, and its upkeep and polish were therefore important.

Not found in the OED

Found described as COACH

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers.
References: Moseman (1892, facs. 1990).

Harness leaf

[harness leaves]

The individual plates sown onto a CANVAS backing in overlapping layers to form MENS HARNESS in the first sense of the term.


Harness makers tools

[tools used by sadlers harness makers]

An act of 1786, making it lawful to export certain types of TOOL, suggests that the HARNESS makers tools may have consisted of some or all of the following: CANTLE STRAINER, SIDE STRAINER, POINT STRAINER, CREASING IRON, SCREW CREASER, WHEEL IRON, SEAT IRON, PRICKING IRON, BOLSTERING IRON, CLAM, HEAD KNIFE [Acts (1786)]. It is unlikely however, that this was a complete list, and some of the tools may in any case have belonged more properly to the saddler or to the bridle maker.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Acts.

Harness nail

[harness-nail; harnes naile; arnes naile]

A term found only in two Books of Rates and nowhere else in the Dictionary Archive [Rates (1582)]; [Rates (1660)]. Harness nails probably had nothing to do with HORSE HARNESS but rather with HARNESS in the sense of ARMOUR. Possibly it was the name given to the RIVETS used to construct ALMAIN RIVETS.

Not found in the OED

Found rated by the SUM containing 1000 nails, ten M

Sources: Rates.

Harness oil

An OIL, probably NEATS FOOT OIL as in the advertisement for 'Refined Neats' Foot Oil for Harnesses, which is perfectly sweet [Tradecards (18c.)]. It was essential for keeping the LEATHER parts of a HORSE HARNESS in good condition.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (late), Tradecards.

Harness plate

[plates harness]

According to the OED, electro-plated metal for HORSE HARNESS, but more probably for COACH HARNESS for which the pressure for fashion and novelty was much stronger. Although in this use the term as such has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive, the metal parts of horse harness were being plated by the end of the eighteenth century; hence an advertisement for 'a set of capital plated harness for a gigg' [Newspapers (1790)], and the emergence of craftsmen like Joseph Gibson of BIRMINGHAM, who advertised himself as a 'Manufacturer of Plated & Brass Coach & Coach Harness ...' [Tradecards (1782)].

The meaning given by the OED is clearly not what is meant by other examples found in the Dictionary Archive. The wording of the 1660 Book of Rates indicates that harness plate was an alternative name for DOUBLES [Rates (1660)]. Why the descriptor 'harness' became attached is not clear, but it is likely to have arisen because the plates were used in HARNESS in the sense of ARMOUR It thus had nothing to do with horse harness.

OED earliest dated of use: 1858 in the first sense (strictly speaking in reference to electro plating); no useful reference for the second sense

Found rated by the BUNDLE of 10 PLATE, PLATE

Sources: Houghton, Rates, Tradecards.

Harness rose

[harness rose]

Probably a decorative metal piece made in the form of a stylized rose for use in HORSE HARNESS; later it was more often called a ROSETTE.

Not found in the OED

Found rated by the THOUSAND

Sources: Rates.


Most often nothing more than a variant spelling of HARNESS, as in 'Three Coach Harnish Brushes' [Inventories (1747)]. However, Randle Holme used 'Harnish' and 'Harness' in close proximity, and may have intended different meanings. He used 'Harnish' to describe 'all the accoutraments, or furniture belonging to an horse of war' [Holme (2000)]. This is not a meaning noted in the Dictionary Archive.

Not found as a separate headword in the OED online

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (late).



Note that 'harp' is sometimes used elliptically for JEWS HARP, as for example in [Inventories (1622)].

A stringed MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, which in its usual triangular form consists of a framework of wood fitted with a series of HARP STRINGs of definite length played with the fingers or a plectrum. Unlike the keyboard instruments, the harp uses an octave of seven, rather than twelve notes. These can be modified by a semitone, or even a full tone through the use of the seven pedals, one to each of the foundational scale. The harp is well adapted to play chords, not with all the notes simultaneously, but by a sweeping motion of the hand - an action that gave rise to the term 'arpeggio'. As Scholes said, the harp 'incites the performer to graceful action and particularly to the display of well rounded arms' [Scholes (1956)]. Playing it became one of the accomplishments that young women were encouraged to display.

'Harp' was also the name given to a SCREEN or SIEVE used for sifting GRAIN and the like; as in 'a parcell of Sifters hogg rings vice tongs Capphookes gunlocks harps & Tobacco tongs' altogether valued at 59s 8d [Inventories (1668)].

OED earliest date of use: c825 as a musical instrument; 1768 as a screen

As a musical instrument: Found made of CYPRESS
As a screen: Found described as BRAZEN
Found in units of DOZEN

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

Harp string


A string for a HARP, in this period made of CATGUT, hence the alternative name of CATLING [Rates (1660)].

OED earliest date of use: c1000

Found rated by the BOX of 12 GROSS, GROSS of 12 DOZEN - KNOT

See also CATLING.
Sources: Rates.

Harping iron


An earlier name for the HARPOON, or an instrument very like it. Rolt's definition in his Dictionary of Trade and Commerce runs 'A sort of dart of spear, fastened to a line, herewith fishermen catch whales, sturgeons, and other large fish. This harping iron is a large javelin of forged iron, five or six feet long, with a sharp, cutting, triangular point, barbed like that of an arrow. At the upper end is engraven the harpineer's name, near a ring, to which the line is fastened, which is let down as soon as the fish is struck, to give him room to dive.' [Rolt (1761)]

OED earliest date of use: 1596

Sources: Houghton.
References: Rolt (1761).


A barbed spear-like missile to the handle or shank of which a rope is attached. It is designed to be thrown by hand or from a gun and used for catching whales. The HARPING IRON was similar.

OED earliest date of use: 1694

Sources: Patents.


[harpsicord; harpsicoll; harpsicall]

A keyboard MUSICAL INSTRUMENT and a later development of the VIRGINAL and the SPINET, though overlapping in use with both. The earliest known example is dated 1521. It resembles a grand piano in appearance, but the keys, instead of operating on hammers that strike the the keys, use QUILLs or leather points that pluck them. Unlike the two more primitive instruments, it had more than one key to a note, though the number actually plucked can be varied by the player, thus allowing greater sonority and variation in tone. Some instruments had more than one keyboard, and more rarely a pedal keyboard as well [Scholes (1956)]. Harpsichords were both popular and fashionable and by the second half of the eighteenth century, and possibly earlier, makers were already prepared to set their names to their own instruments, for example [Newspapers (1780)]. Patents throughout the period show the desire to make harpsichords more flexible, like that of 1774, which protects 'a mode of putting-on the quills to strike the strings, with a pedal and swell which raises the top, brings on the tone, and swells a new celestial stop' [Patents (1774)]. Others adapted the instrument to play tunes without the necessity of the performer learning how to manage the keys [Patents (1694)]. Advertisements for the sale of secondhand instruments show that people were very aware of the full range of possibilities, for example [Newspapers (1770)]; others offered repairs and similar services [Newspapers (1790)].

As with the virginal, music was written specially for the harpsichord like the 'collection of new minuets for the Year 1760 (as performed at court on his Majesty's Birth-Day) for the Violin, German Flute or Harpsichord, Price 6d' [Newspapers (1760)].

OED earliest date of use: 1611


Sources: Diaries, Inventories (mid-period), Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.
References: Scholes (1956).

Harquebusade water

[arquebusade water; arquebusade; arquebsade water; arquebsade; arque busade; arqubsade water]

Named after the Harquebus, which was an early type of portable GUN, this was a lotion of unknown composition, regarded as a specific for gunshot and other wounds. It was in one advertisement listed under MEDICINEs, but it had sufficient overtones of fashion to be given a French label at times, as EAU D'ARQUEBUSADE, and for one firm to claim theirs was 'of their own Importation, from Fabre and Bouett of Lausanne' [Tradecards (1790s)]. The 'concentrated balsam of arquebusade, an antiseptic chemical preparation, useful in the cure of fractures, dislocations, and wounds, also bilious complaints, the dropsy, gravel and worms' also called 'Baume d'arquebusade concentre' was probably much the same [Patents (1786)].

OED earliest date of use: 1747

Found described as GENUINE, SWISS, TRUE
Found in units of BOTTLE

Sources: Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.

Harrow pins

These are the NAILS used to form the tines of a HARROW. For the implement of agriculture, the pins may have been made of IRON [Inventories (1674)], as appears to be the case in Randle Holme's illustration [Holme (2000)], but on the harrow used to stretch a SKIN when it was taken out of the tanning pits, they were of WOOD [Houghton].

OED online earliest date of use: 1530 under Harrow

Found made of WOOD Found in units of LB

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