Pool - Potters lathe

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

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A pool was the collective amount of the stakes and fines of players in certain card games, and hence the receptacle in which they were placed. This could be called a pool BASKET or pool TRAY, hence the inclusion in Bettison's catalogue of 'Pool Trays and Baskets of various Sorts' [Tradecards (1794)] and they could be highly decorative. One company of 'Japanners & Manufacturers of Paper Trays' included 'Quadrille Pools' among his wares [Tradecards (19c.)].

OED earliest date of use: 1770

Found described as Quadrille Found describing BASKET, TRAY

Sources: Tradecards.

Pooley ginger

[poolye ginger; poley ginger]

A form of GINGER found among the stock of two sixteenth-century retailers in the Midlands. It is not clear what was meant [Inventories (1578)]; [Inventories (1590)]. At 2s and 11d the POUND, their value was quite high for ginger, suggesting that it may have been processed in some way.

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (early).

Popes head brush

[popes head brushe]

A round BRUSH or BROOM with a long handle used for sweeping ceilings, dusting pictures, etc.

OED earliest date of use: 1824 as Pope's head

Sources: Inventories (late).

Poppy head

[poppy-seeds; capitarum papaverum]

The seed case of the POPPY. OPIUM was extracted from the unripened case of the opium poppy, but other soporific preparation were made from POPPY SEED. It is likely that the 'poppyheads druggs and all other things hanging up' [Inventories (1726)], in other words, that most poppy heads noted in apothecary shops were dried and kept for their seeds. Since the opium poppy grows best in warmer climes, most opium was prepared abroad.

OED earliest date of use: 1585

Found in the 1784 Rate Book, rated by the POUND

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

Poppy water


OED suggests a soporific drink made from the POPPY, presumably from the unripe seed head of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, although all poppies have narcotic properties to some extent. However, Martha Bradley included a recipe that was designed to have rather different effects. She called it a 'Cordial and a Sweat', and gave it the alternative name of SURFEIT WATER. This was made from the freshly gathered flowers of the RED POPPY infused for several days in FRENCH BRANDY. The liquor was then strained off, FIGs, RAISINS, LIQUORICE and spices were added and the mixture set in the sun for several days. The result was 'a very rich Tincture of Poppies rather than a Water, for it is not distilled'. It was 'a very safe Medicine', even for children, to be used when 'a Person is disordered by a Cold, or has an Oppression at the Stomach' [Bradley (1756 facs.1996-8)].

OED earliest date of use: 1682

Found made from RED POPPY

Sources: Inventories (early), Recipes.
References: Bradley (1756, facs. 1996-8).


[pumpillion; populion; populio'; populin; poppuleon; popilean; pampillione]

The term is often given in the extended form of UNGUENTUM populeon, as in, for example, 'ung't popilean' [Inventories (1673)]. It is an UNGUENT or OINTMENT made from the buds of Black POPAR, Populus nigra. John Houghton gave one of the Black Poplar 'as the unguent to refrigerate and cause sleep ...' [Houghton], which suggests that the 'ung. Refrigerans Galeni' found in the stock of one Apothecary may have been the same, or a similar, preparation [Inventories (1665)]. Black Poplar is now deemed to have no medicinal virtue by modern herbalists, and is not included in Potter's 'Cyclopaedia' [Wren (1941)]. 'Ointment of Populion', which is only the English version of the name, was used in one recipe to make a CERE CLOTH [Recipes (Ketilby)].

OED earliest date of use: 1398

Found in units of LB, OZ, POUND

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Recipes.
References: Wren (1941).

Portmanteau trunk

[portmantua trunk; port manto trunk]

A term composed of two words, PORTMANTEAU and TRUNK, each of which was used to describe a lidded container designed to carry personal possessions. Quite how the combination term differed is not clear. The only quotation indicating use in the OED, 'A hair Portmantua Trunk, lock'd and corded', suggests a trunk rather than a portmanteau. Perhaps the descriptor was added to indicate what was to be carried inside, effectively APPAREL, rather than in reference to a design. Three examples have been noted in the Dictionary Archive, two of them among the promotional literature of London trunk makers [Tradecards (1762)]; [Tradecards (18c.)], and the third appeared in a probate inventory [Inventories (1711)]. In the first of these examples, 'Portmantua Trunks' were listed alongside 'Leather Portmantuas', suggesting that the two were perceived as different and distinct [Tradecards (1762)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1691 under Cord

Sources: Inventories (late), Tradecards.

Portugal plums

Although found only once in the Dictionary Archive, when they were bracketed with FRENCH PLUMS [Tradecards (1800)] the lists of imports given by John Houghton included small quantities of DRIED PLUMS imported from PORTUGAL and about 500 TON more labelled as PRUNEs [Houghton].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Houghton, Tradecards.

Portugal snuff

[portugual snuff]

An identifiable variety of SNUFF from PORTUGAL. The crown in Portugal had a monopoly in the production of TOBACCO, and it began the manufacture of SNUFF in its LISBON manufactory in 1675. As John Houghton remarked, this snuff was 'made with good tobacco', and had the king's seal on it [Houghton]. Later, there was a shift downwards in quality to attract a wider market [Goodman (1993)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Houghton, Tradecards.
References: Goodman (1993).

Portugal water

In the only example in the Dictionary Archive Portugal water was placed among PERFUMED WATERS, along with other fashionable products such as HUNGARY WATER, LAVENDER WATER and ORANGE FLOWER WATER [Tradecards (18c.)]. There is no indication of its ingredients. It is not an alternative name for SPANISH WATER.

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Tradecards.

Pot chain

[potte cheane; pott cheyne; pothangle chaine; potchean]

A CHAIN, often found in twos as a PAIR on which to hang a POT or other vessel over the fire.

Not found in the OED

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

Pot gears

Probably an alternative term for the POT GALES or the POT HANGER

Not found in the OED online

See also IRON GEAR.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (late).

Pot hanger

[pott-hanger; potthanger; pott hangynge; pott hanging; pott hanger; pothangr; pothanginge; pothanging; pothanger; pote hanger; pot hanginge]

The term is sometimes shortened to HANGER; mostly found in the plural as 'pot hangers' and also found in the form 'Pot hanging'. It was a device for hanging a POT or KETTLE over the fire. It consisted of either a series of links, a rack, or a bar with a series of holes in it, on which the POT HOOKs could be hung at different heights, although one quotation in the OED from the 1670s suggests that 'pot hanger' and 'pot hook' were interchangeable. Usually the pot hanger was attached at the top to a bar fixed in the chimney; hence 'A barr of Iron to hang potts on Two payre of pot hangers' [Inventories (1637)].

OED earliest date of use: 1580

Found described as BROAD, like a SAW
Found in units of PAIR

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

Pot hangle

[potte hangle; pott hengle; pothingle; pothangle; pothangelle; pot hyngle; pot henglis]

Usually found in the plural, but sometimes even then treated as singular; for example, 'a pott hengles' [Inventories (1580)], it is part of the equipment used to hang a POT over the fire. Various entries in the Dictionary Archive help to clarify how the pot hangles related to other parts of the whole apparatus, and give an indication as to what they were not. For example, two entries distinguish them from a POT HOOK; 'a paire of potte hangles ... and the huck' [Inventories (1575)], and 'ij potthangles & ij payer of potthookes' [Inventories (1590)]. Pot hangles needed a CHAIN; hence 'pothangle chaines' [Inventories (1594)], and they were not the same as the bar fixed in the chimney from which equipment could hang; hence 'A barre of yron A potthangles' [Inventories (1580)]. Almost certainly they were identical with, or at least similar in function to a POT HANGER. The term fell from use during the seventeenth century, while 'Pot hanger' did not, suggesting they were indeed the same.

OED online earliest date of use: 1538

See also HANGLE.
Sources: Inventories (early).

Potters lathe

The OED suggests that the potter's LATHE consisted of a frame with a horizontal disk revolvable at various speeds, on which the prepared clay is moulded into shape, which would mean that it is virtually indistinguishable from the POTTERS WHEEL. Lorna Weatherill, on the other hand, indicates that the lathe was used to scrape the surface of a pot after it had been moulded and dried. This produced a better finish as well as making possible more standardized ware. The operation could have been performed on the wheel, but by about 1700 separate potter's lathes were being used. The first 'Turning house' Weatherill has found was dated 1732, showing the degree to which the operation had developed as distinct. Potter's lathes seem from the start to have been propelled by a second person, usually a child [Weatherill (1971)]. A patent dated 1764 for 'Turning ovals in pewter, also in English-china, and all other earthenware' may well have been protecting a new technique in this area [Patents (1764)]. The only potter's lathes noted in the Dictionary Archive appear in an act allowing their export, unlike most other types of machinery [Acts (1786)].

OED earliest date of use: 1727-41

Sources: Acts, Patents.
References: Weatherill (1971).