Pocket - Pompon

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

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This term was applied in at least two distinct ways that are unlikely to be confused.

The first was to an article of APPAREL, usually not stitched into a garment as it would be today, but worn as a separate item akin to a modern PURSE. They were most commonly used to hold MONEY, but several other objects have been noted as made to fit in a pocket include POCKET BOOK, BOTTLE [Inventories (1790)], POCKET KNIFE [Inventories (1577)], WATCH [Inventories (1708)], and POCKET GLASS and even a BRUSH [Inventories (1671)]. Promotional literature like tradecards and handbills did not advertise pockets as such but are a good source of information on the many similar articles made to fit into the pocket. Pockets in this sense were most commonly made of SKIN, particularly BLACK SKIN, or FUSTIAN.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: c1430

The pocket was also measure of capacity, akin to a BAG or SACK. Pockets in this sense were large and used to carry bulky, compressible commodities like HOPS and COTTON WOOL. The term is therefore common in trading documents such as the Gloucester Coastal Port Books but rare in the shops. [Acts (1710)] implied that for hops the pocket was not of a standard size, although nowadays it has been standardized at about 156 LB, and for wool at half a sack, although in the thirteenth century the wool pocket contained only a quarter of a sack. Pockets noted in the Dictionary Archive contained upwards from 114 LB [Zupko (1968)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1280

Found describing FUSTIAN, SKIN Found made of BLACK SKIN
Found listed in the Rate Book as 3 C for HOPS in 1582 Found used to rate imported FELT

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Zupko (1968).

Point strainer

This term is not found in the dictionaries and only appears once in the Dictionary Archive in a list of tools that could be exported. It was probably a simple and well-established TOOL the export of which would be unlikely to affect British industry [Acts (1786)]. Salaman includes nothing identifiable as this under another name, unless it was similar to the 'Stitch tightener; a piece of bent stick round which the thread is wound and then pulled tight [Salaman (1986)].

Not found in the OED online

See also STRAINER.
Sources: Acts.
References: Salaman (1986).

Poivrade sauce

This PREPARED SAUCE has been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive in a list of sauces for sale in an up-market London shop dating to the end of the eighteenth century [Tradecards (1800)]. Its name in English would be PEPPER sauce, and unlike some of the French names given to other sauces, Poivrade sauce had become established in English for at least a century. John Evelyn suggested several vegetables that would benefit by being served 'a la poivrade', but he gave no further details [Evelyn (1699, new ed. 1996)]. Some recipe books give instructions for making a non-keeping version, indicating the main flavouring was provided by pepper corns, for example [Macdonald (fl. 1800)]; [Froud and Turgeon (1961)]. However, under PEPPER, the OED suggests a version of pepper sauce that would keep, describing it as 'a pungent SAUCE or condiment made by steeping 'red peppers' (CAPSICUM pods) in VINEGAR', meaning the hot pepper usually named CHILLI. This would suggest something similar to the CHILLI VINEGAR found elsewhere in the Dictionary Archive.

OED earliest date of use: c1390 under Peverade; 1699 as Poivrade; 1806 as Poivrade sauce

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Evelyn (1699 modern ed. 1996), Froud and Turgeon (1961), Macdonald (fl. 1800).

Pole axe


A kind of axe formerly used as a weapon of war, a battle-axe and a form of this was retained until the end of the eighteenth century in naval warfare for boarding, resisting boarders, cutting ropes, etc. It probably varied in form at different times, but originally, and in naval use to the end, it was a short-handled weapon, which could be hung at the saddle-bow or held under the shield, and used in close-fighting.

OED earliest date of use: 13--

Sources: Inventories (early).

Pole comb

[pole ditto]

A pole comb or poll comb was presumably a HAIR COMB designed specifically to assist in creating a 'pole lock'; that is a corkscrew lock of hair hanging down the back of the head [Cox (1966, pb 1969)].

Not found in the OED online

Found described as STAINED

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Cox (1966, pb 1989).

Pole screen

[pole & hand screens]

An adjustable FIRE SCREEN mounted on an upright pole or rod with tripod feet to render it stable. The screen was adjustable on the pole so that it could more conveniently protect someone sitting near the fire.

OED earliest date of use: 1870

Sources: Tradecards.

Polishing lathe

[pullishing lathe]

A LATHE used for polishing, rather than for turning. Many metal objects, such as a NEEDLE needed a fine finish. This lathe seems to have been developed in the eighteenth-century - it has not been noted before, although Randle Holme described several pieces of equipment that may well have developed into the later types. For example, the cutler had a 'Glassier or polishing Wheel' on which to polish his knives [Holme (2000)], while included among the tools of the lapidary was 'a certain Engine or Mill, called the Lapydaryes Polishing Mill' [Holme (2000)]The illustration, and the description of its part, show that it was hand-operated, but whether by the craftsman himself, or by a second worker as with the POTTERS LATHE is not clear. It may of course be no more than a change of name.

Skilled workers had these lathes, like a button maker with '3 Pullishing Lathes frames & Straps 6 Pull'g Brushes [Inventories (1764)] or the 'Dyesinker and Buckle stamper' who had 'Dye Turning, Scratching and Polishing Lathes' [Newspapers (1780)]. The button maker, as the excerpt shows, had POLISHING BRUSHes associated with his lathe. The act that prohibited polishing lathes, also included polishing brushes suggesting that they were more complex than might be supposed [Acts (1785)].

Not found in the OED

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


Found elsewhere as 'polonese', this name was applied from the 1770s onwards to various articles of female APPAREL, originally suggested by that worn by Polish women. It consisted of a DRESS or OVER DRESS with a bodice, and a skirt open from the waist down.

OED earliest date of use: 1773

Found described as buff coloured, WHITE Found made of CALICO, LUTESTRING

Sources: Newspapers.



Although pomade was the name given to a drink made of APPLE, and more specifically to CIDER, it does not appear in this sense in the Dictionary Archive, where it appears in the sense of POMATUM. Among others, it was given the descriptor 'divine' [Tradecards (1790s)], or 'de Vin' [Tradecards (1794)].

OED earliest date of use: 1393 as a drink; 1562 as a COSMETIC

Found described as Divine, JAMAICA MARROW, TRUE

Sources: Tradecards.



A mixture of aromatic substances, usually made into a ball, and contained in a small box or bag, either carried in the hand or pocket, or suspended by a chain from the neck of waist, especially as a preservative against infection. One recipe was composed of BENJAMIN, STORAX and LAUDANUM, perfumed with MUSK and CIVET and ROSE WATER [Recipes (Queens)].

OED earliest date of use: 1492

Sources: Recipes.

Pomander chain

[pumander necklace; pomander chayne]

The OED online includes a reference dated 1599 to pomander chains but does not include a definition. However, the quotation, 'Walkes all day hang'd in pomander chains' does give some clue as to what a POMANDER chain might have been. Pomanders were usually made in the form of a ball to be carried on the person, possibly held in a decorative perforated case hanging from a ribbon or chain, but one recipe instructs the maker to 'make holes in the heads, and so string them while they be hot' [Recipes (Queens)]. This would clearly make a chain like the 'fowre pomander chaynes' found among the stock of a chapman [Inventories (1603)] or NECKLACE or the 'Pumander necklaces' noted in the stock of a retailer [Inventories (1670)] several decades later.

OED earliest date of use: 1599 under Pomander

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


[pomatu'; pomatom; pomat]

A Latin version of the term POMADE, the term refers to a scented OINTMENT in which APPLES are said to have been originally an ingredient. It was intended for application to the skin; in later times especially for the skin of the head and for dressing the hair. John Gerard explained the origin of the term: 'There is likewise made an ointment with the pulpe of Apples and Swines grease and Rose water, which is vsed to beautifie the face, and to take away the roughnesse of the skin, which called in shops Pomatum, of the Apples whereof it is made' [Gerard (1633, facs. 1975)]. As a soothing and protective ointment, Samuel Pepys had to 'daub all my face over with pomatum', before a plaster cast was made of his face in 1669 [Diaries (Pepys)].

In the early part of the period, pomatum was mainly found in pots among the stocks of apothecaries, as in 'Pomatu' in 2 potts 4 li di att 20d' [Inventories (1624)]. Later it was advertised in two forms; as 'Hard pomatum' in the ROLL, or 'Soft pomatum' in a POT [Newspapers (1787)]. It was frequently advertised for use on the hair as in 'Pomatum, and Bear's Grease for the Hair' [Newspapers (1770)]. It seems to have been an essential item of TOILETRY, hence advertisements like the one proclaiming 'A great variety of Toilet Boxes, with Essences & Pomatums, complete' [Tradecards (1794)]. The same tradesman advertised a range of scented pomatums. His list included 'French and English A la Rose, in Pots & Rolls; Eau de Jessamine, ditto; Fleur d'Orange, ditto; Marechalle - Tubereuse; Millefleur - Oeillet; Jonquille - Bouquet; Clarified English Cowslip Pomatum'. These by implication were in the form of either a hard or a soft pomatum since they were marketed in both pots and Rolls.

Pomatum was included among unrated DRUGS by the early eighteenth-century [Acts (1704)].

OED earliest date of use: 1562

Found described as of all sorts, ENGLISH, for Face, FINE, FRENCH, Grecian, for Hair, Hard, Perfumed, Plain, RICH, Scented, Soft Found describing CASE, POT
Found in units of LB, OZ Found imported by the LB

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Gerard (1633, facs. 1975).


[pomigarid; pomegranette; pomegranet]

The fruit of Punica granatum, though once called Malum punicum or apple of Carthage. It was probably a native of western Asia or southern Asia,, but has been successfully cultivated in warmer regions elsewhere and has naturalized around the Mediterranean. Its fruit is a large roundish thick-skinned and many-celled berry, with many seeds, in a pleasantly acid juicy red pulp, enclosed in a tough leathery rind, traded as POMEGRANATE PEEL [Masefield et al (1969)]. Most parts of the pomegranate fruit has astringent qualities, so they were used medicinally. John Houghton claimed that they were 'good in all kind of fluxes' [Houghton]. They appeared surprisingly early in the shops; the earliest noted was in a debt of 1s that 'the said Christopher Costen of Wyche oweth me for ... 2 pomegranettes' [Inventories (1586)]. By the late eighteenth century, along with many other exotics, they were advertised. One tradesman, for example, included in his catalogue 'West-Indian Sweetmeats and Preserves Of every Description, in small Jars. ... Pomegranates' [Tradecards (1800)].

OED earliest date of use: a1320-30

Found imported from Spain, the Straits Found rated by the HUNDRED of 5 SCORE, THOUSAND

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Rates, Tradecards.
References: Masefield et al. (1969).

Pomegranate pill

[rindes of pomegranates; reend of a pomigarid; pomegrate pill; pomegranet pill; pomegranate pil; pomegranate peel; pomegranat pille; pomegornate pill]

The dried peel of the POMEGRANATE, used in medicine, and as a result 'Pomegranate pills' were included among unrated DRUGS by the early eighteenth-century for a while [Acts (1704)], though they were back among rated goods by 1720 [Acts (1720)]. John Houghton, noticing their astringency, suggested that they 'may be of good use in tanning of leather, but oak-bark being much cheaper, it makes this in great measure out of use' [Houghton].

Not found in the OED online

Found described as FOREIGN
Found in units of OZ Found among the DRUGS rated by the CWT of 112 LB, HUNDREDWEIGHT

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.

Pomerania cloth

[pomerania clo]

In the early part of the period, Pomerania would probably have been the name given to a WOOLLEN CLOTH made in Pomerania, a district on the south coast of the Baltic Sea, now part of Germany. This cloth was similar to, and competed with the WHITES made in western England [Kerridge (1985)]. In this sense, the term has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. However, by the early-eighteenth century, the same name was given to a LINEN CLOTH, presumably from the same region.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of PIECE

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Kerridge (1984).

Pomet lace

[pumett lace; pum'et lase; pomett; pomet-lace; poment lace; pomate lace]

Also found elliptically as pomet, the term denotes an early form of LACE available in the sixteenth century and early seventeenth, but noted only once after 1660. It appeared in the Books of Rates for this period, and so was presumably imported, but it was also found, though not frequently, in the shops. The origin of the name is obscure.

An entry in the 1582 Book of Rates, 'Passemin lace look pomet lace' [Rates (1582)], suggests that Pomet LACE was seen as an alternative name for PASSEMENT. This, and the evidence of the units of measurement in which it was recorded, suggests that pomet was a form of narrow BRAID or GIMP made of loosely plaited or braided threads. Because of its probable loose structure, it was more likely to have been sewn down along the seams of articles of dress rather than to have been used for edging or insertion [Mincoff and Marriage (1987)]. Its use as a descriptor of FERRET in the latest noted example, '7 peeces of 6d pom' ferett' [Inventories (1685)], also suggests a probable braided structure.

OED online earliest date of use: 1583 as Pomet

Found describing FERRET Found made of SILK
Found in units of DOZEN, GROSS Found rated by GROSS of 12 DOZEN - YARD

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: Mincoff and Marriage (1987).

Pomfret cake

It was the name given to a piece of CONFECTIONERY composed largely of liquorice, which was also used medicinally [Newspapers (1790)]. The town in Yorkshire, after which it was named, is now called Pontefract. It was the centre of the production and processing of LIQUORICE. John Houghton commented on the value of land used for growing liquorice, put at up to £8 an acre [Houghton].

OED earliest date of use: 1838

Sources: Newspapers.


[pummell; pummel; pumil; pum'ell; pumell; pommil]

The knob terminating the HILT of a SWORD, DAGGER, or the like. This was made separately, hence entries like 'It'm a dossen dagger hilts and pummells iijs iiijd' [Inventories (1577)]. The importation of Pommels was forbidden in the 1560s to protect home manufacture [Acts (1562)]. By extension the label 'pommel' was given to any globular object used to beat or pound [Recipes (Mosley)].

'Pommel' was also the name give to the upward projecting part at the front of a SADDLE, also called the saddle-bow. This was made separately, hence the record in a saddler's inventory of 'Two Doz` and a half of pumils' [Inventories (1718)].

OED earliest date of use: c1330 in the first sense; c1450 as an item of SADDLERY

As part of a WEAPON: Found described as Filed Found made for DAGGER, RAPIER, SWORD
As an item of SADDLERY: Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (late), Recipes.


[pompholicus; pompheliges; pamphaligos]

Crude zinc oxide, or flowers of zinc. It was used in medicine in UNGUENTs and similar preparations.

OED earliest date of use: 1585

Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

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



The large fruit of the curcubit, Curbito pepo, the PUMPKIN. Although not found in the Dictionary Archive as such, the SEED were. One early reference was to 'i arke Pumpiones and like seed' valued at 16s [Inventories (1634)], suggesting someone was using the seed on quite a large scale. Much later nurserymen and seeds men were offering pumpkin seed among 'SEEDS in the Kitchen Garden [Tradecards (n.d.)].

OED earliest date of use: 1545

Sources: Inventories (early), Tradecards.



Fairholt gives a good contemporary definition from the 1748 London Magazine quoted in the OED: 'an ORNAMENT worn by ladies in the middle of the forepart of their head dress. Their figures, size and composition are various, such as butterflies, FEATHERS, TINSEL, COXCOMB LACE, etc.' The only example in the Dictionary Archive is in an advertisement for 'Gold & Silver Commets & Pompoons for Lady's Hair' [Tradecards (1760)].

OED earliest date of use: 1740-61

Found described as for lady's hair Found made of GOLD, SILVER

Sources: Tradecards.