Mask - Mazarinet

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

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[massk; maske]

Probably from the French 'masque', the term refers to a face covering with eye holes, worn as a disguise or for protection. A mask was a theatrical accessory in ancient times, adopted in the late Middle Ages and especially, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, by women to protect the wearer's complexion and to preserve her incognito. It took various names according to its shape and the period. Randle Holme expanded on this description writing that a mask was 'a thing that in former times Gentlewomen used to put over their Faces when they Travel to keep them from the Sun burning; it covered only the Brow, Eyes and Nose, through the holes they saw their way; the rest of the Face was covered with a Chin-cloth. Of these Masks they used them either square with a flat and even top, or else the top cut with an half round; they were generally made of Black Velvet' [Holme (2000)]. Probably of this type were the '4 velvet maskes at 8d peece' listed among the ST MARTINS WARE in the stock of one retailer [Inventories (1643)], and the 'xii Taffety Maskes vs' and 'xv Sattinge Maskes xiiijs' in the shop of another [Inventories (1612)]. Masks were also worn at MASQUERADEs and other balls, and at the theatre, where people were expected to turn up in disguise.

Masks were items of fashion, hence descriptors like OLD FASHIONED, and advertisements such as the one for 'the New Invented Masks for the Winter Season' listed along with a 'great Variety of Masquerad Dresses entire New' [Tradecards (1764)].

OED earliest date of use: 1534

Found described as for CHILDREN, FLAT, lined, LONG, NEW INVENTED, OLD FASHIONED (old fashion), PLAIN, ROUND, SHORT, travelling, for the winter season Found made of SATIN, TAFFETA, VELVET Found rated by the DOZEN Found in units of DOZEN

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


[masquerad; mascorade]

Also known as 'Mascades' and 'Mascadoes'. The term denotes a TEXTILE, originally of SILK, but by 1679 made of WORSTED in Norwich, for the apparently limited purpose of being made into HEAD DRESSes [Kerridge (1985)].

OED earliest date of use: 1711

Found in units of YARD

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Kerridge (1985).

Masquerade dress

[masquerad dresses]

An alternative name for FANCY DRESS, often quite fashionable and expensive. A Swiss count called John James Heidegger is believed to have introduced the Venetian fashion of a semi-public masquerade ball (to which anyone could subscribe) to London in the early eighteenth century. People were expected to go in disguise, and to dress with a MASK to hide the face []. Although many costumes were probably home made or adapted from existing items in the wardrobe, some dress makers did advertise them; for example, one had 'Childrens Hussar Dresses' and 'Masquerad Dresses entire New' [Tradecards (1764)]. The advertisement strongly suggests that SECOND HAND masquerade dresses were also available, but they have not been noted as such in the Dictionary Archive.

OED online earliest date of use: 1772 under Masquerade

Sources: Tradecards.



The OED suggests, with a question mark, 'Coloured like 'masquerade', but does not mention what that colour might have been. The excerpt from the London Gazette for 1678 runs 'Eight pieces of taffaty ribon ... all cloth-colour, one ashe, one masqueraded'. This suggests a pattern rather than a colour, as does the only example in the Dictionary Archive: 'Masquaraded & Plain Camblets' advertised by a modish London retailer [Tradecards (18c.)]. How the patterning, if that is what it was, differed from CAMLETing, for example, is not known.

OED earliest date of use: 1678

Found used to describe CAMLET

Sources: Tradecards.



The umbelliferous plant Peucedanum ostruthium, was formerly cultivated as a POT HERB and as a PHYSICAL HERB, mainly for its roots, but the seed was also used. According to Nicholas Culpeper, the roots were 'hotter than pepper, and very available in cold griefs and diseases of the stomach and body, dissolving very powerfully upwards and downwards'. He recommended a WATER distilled from the roots and herb [Culpeper (1792)]. Masterwort was an ingredient of the general cure-all called TREACLE WATER [Recipes (Smith)], and of PLAGUE WATER or AQUA EPIDEMICA. However the name was also applied to various other plants, including PELLITORY, Astrantia and Goutweed.

OED earliest date of use: 1548

Sources: Recipes.
References: Culpeper (1792).



A coarse fabric woven out of STRAW or RUSH or the like, used both as a packing material and as a floor covering, when it would have been given a better appearance. In the former sense it was sometimes called DUTCH MATTING. As early as 1743 a London tradesman was advertising 'Barbary, Dutch and English Matting' immediately following his PAINTED FLOOR CLOTHs and listed CARPETs indicating that matting was being used as floor covering in the early eighteenth century. A patent of 1797 referred to 'rooms covered with carpets, floor-cloths, or matting' as if this was quite normal [Patents (1797)]. By the early nineteenth century, if not earlier, matting had become a commodity with a number of different product names such as 'India and Imperial matting' [Tradecards (19c.)].

OED earliest date of use: 1812 as packing material; 1813 as floor covering

Found in units of PIECE, POLL, SCORE, YARD Found rated by the YARD

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

Mattress card

Possibly a variant spelling of MATTRESS - CORD or intended as a list of mattress and cord

Not found in the OED

Found valued at 18d DOZEN Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early).

May butter

A purified BUTTER made by allowing SWEET BUTTER to melt in the sun and to re-solidify, and repeating the process until the butter turned white. It was used as an UNGUENT, and hence was sometimes given the Latin name 'BUTIRUM Majale'. It was never of much importance in medicine, but was suggested by Nicholas Culpeper as a substitute for OIL OF SWALLOWS [Recipes (Culpeper)], and may have been used in some of the perfumed preparations like ORANGE FLOWER BUTTER.

OED earliest date of use: 1500 under Anew

Sources: Recipes.


A rich blue colour supposedly named after either Cardinal Mazarin or the Duchesse de Mazarin, who died at Chelsea in 1699.

OED earliest date of use: 1684

Found as a colour of PAPER

Sources: Tradecards.



A Mazarine hood was supposedly a hood in the fashion of that worn by the Duchesse de Mazarin, who died at Chelsea in 1699. Presumably the 'whit allamod hodas maserinet', valued at 5s apiece and found in an atrociously spelt probate inventory, was something similar, or possibly an ALAMODE HOOD deemed to be in that style [Inventories (1692)].

OED earliest date of use: 1689 for a Mazarine hood

Found described as ENGLISH

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).