Quadrille box - Quoiler

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Quadrille box - Quoiler', in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/quadrille-box-quoiler [accessed 20 May 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Quadrille box - Quoiler", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/quadrille-box-quoiler.

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Quadrille box - Quoiler", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/quadrille-box-quoiler.

In this section

Quadrille box

[quadrill ditto; quadrill boxes; quadrill box]

Quadrille, a game of cards using an ordinary pack but with the 8s, 9s and 10s removed, became popular in the 1720s and was superseded by Whist. The quadrille box was probably either a box in which modified packs of cards were kept, or a QUADRILLE POOL. Quadrille boxes are found advertised with a DRESSING BOX, suggesting either they were intended for the same market, or that they were constructed and finished in similar ways, for example [Newspapers (1780)]. One record of 'Quadrille Boxes, Fish and Counters' [Newspapers (1782)] suggests that at least sometimes quadrille involved gambling.

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.

Quadrille pool

Probably a DISH or similar receptacle in which players of the card game of quadrille placed their stakes. The only example in the Dictionary Archive of 'Quadrille Pools' [Tradecards (19c.)] appears in an advertisement of a company of 'Japanners & Manufacturers of Paper Trays', which gives an indication of the appearance of a quadrille pool.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.

Quare tack

The OED gives 'quare' as a rare and obsolete form of SQUARE, and the use of the term continued just into the seventeenth century. A 'quare tack' may therefore have been a TACK with a square head; a SHOEMAKERS TACK.

Not found as such in the OED

Found described as SMALL

Sources: Inventories (early).

Quarter flax

The term is found in an inventory of a rope maker in Newcastle upon Tyne [Inventories (1670)]. Like many other terms relating to flax, the descriptor 'quarter' seems to have indicated the unit of weight in which it was packaged. This was probably the quarter CWT (that is, 28 LB) rather than a quarter of a pound, but there can be no certainty about this unless further evidence comes to light. It was apparently valued slightly less highly than POUND FLAX.

Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (early).

Quartern wire

[quartern wyer]

Quartern usually means QUARTER, though it was an early and occasional alternative name for a prison. Neither seems applicable here. The term has not been noted in the dictionaries, and appears only once in the Dictionary Archive in the entry for 'Dagger and quartern wyer, the pound' [Rates (1660)]. Whereas much WIRE was rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT, DAGGER WIRE and quartern wire (and STEEL WIRE and VIRGINAL WIRE) were rated by the POUND, which suggests a fine sort.

Not found in the OED

Found rated by the POUND

Sources: Rates.

Queens blue

[queen's ditto]

A form of blueing agent for use in laundry work. It has been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive, positioned between POWDER BLUE and LIQUID BLUE [Tradecards (19c.)]. It was probably a proprietary brand of blue comparable with INDIAN LIQUID TRUE BLUE and BETTISONS ROYAL TRUE BLUE, and most likely in the form of a liquid.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.


[quinsborow; quiesbrow]

The term is sometimes found under the variants 'Quinsborough' and (possibly) 'Quinton'.

An old name of the German town, KONIGSBURG, situated on the Baltic coast and a substantial port in the early-modern period. However, goods qualified by the term were not necessarily made in the town, even if they were exported from it. Exports were typical of all the ports situated around the Baltic and included FLAX, though the term Queensborough flax has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. Presumably because flax exported from Queensborough was readily identifiable by its packaging, the town name became also the label of a specific unit of measure. According to Randle Holme, a Quinborough' consisted of 'three bands in a bunch' weighing 42 POUND - the same incidentally as a 'Podola' [Holme (2000)].

Not found in the OED

Found rated by the BOLT

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Holme (2000).

Quick brimstone


OED has no direct definition of quick BRIMSTONE, but it gives a secondary meaning of 'quick' as 'Of sulphur: Readily inflammable, fiery'. It has three citations, the latest 1669, which suggests that the use of the term died out.

Many forms of SULPHUR are highly inflammable; probably the most inflammable was FLOWERS OF SULPHUR.

OED online earliest date of use: c1530

Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (early).

Quick eel

[quick eele]

The term denotes a live EEL. Since it was possible to keep eels alive during transport, they could be consumed at some distance from where they were caught. Most eels brought to market were from English shores and rivers, and marketed live. The cook was responsible for killing them, for example [Acton (n.d.), 108]. However, some were imported, and this continued to be permitted even after the importation of other eels, presumably processed, was prohibited in the 1660s [Acts (1666)].

OED earliest date of use: 1584

Found rated by the ships lading

Sources: Rates.
References: Acton (n.d.).

Quickening tub

[quickening tubb]

Quickening was a name for YEAST or BARM, which could have been used either to make BREAD or to brew BEER. Both examples of a quickening tub in the Dictionary Archive are associated with a MASHING COOMB, suggesting that they were used to begin the fermentation process of WORT after mashing was complete rather than in making bread [Inventories (1709)]; [Inventories (1719)].

Not found in the OED online as such; 1598 for earliest use of Quickening

Sources: Inventories (late).


[quyckesilu'; quiksilver; quicksylver; quicksylu'; quicksirver; quicksilv'; quicksilu'; quicksillver; quickselve; quicke-silver; quickesilver; quicke sylvar; quicke silver; quicke siluer; quick silver; quick silfer]

The metal, MERCURY, so called from its liquid mobile form at ordinary temperatures and its silvery colour. It was used with TIN to coat the back of GLASS to give reflective quality, and in medicine. The Royal College of Physicians considered it necessary to include a method of purifying quicksilver in their Dispensatory because it was 'too often adulterated' [Pemberton (1746)]. Quicksilver was used in home recipes to deal with that most recalcitrant of vermin, the bed bug. Since it was recommended that it was applied to a bed, including in all the cracks, and not washed off, it cannot have done the human occupants any good as quicksilver in all its forms is highly toxic [Recipes (Smith)].

OED earliest date of use: c1000

Found in units of BARREL, C, LB, OZ Found rated by the POUND

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Recipes.
References: Pemberton (1746).


[quille; quile; quil]

The earliest meaning of quill was for a piece of hollow reed or stem. These were used for winding YARN on, though by the early-modern period the quill in this sense was probably like a modern BOBBIN or spool made of any material, but usually of WOOD. Much metallic THREAD was imported on quills; hence entries in the Books of Rates like 'Copper, gold and silver upon quills and rolls, or rolls, or in skain, the pound cont. 16 ounces Hab. de poiz' [Rates (1660)]. Although not found in the Dictionary Archive, in other documents relating to weaving various pieces of equipment have been noted, including the quill BASKET, in which the weaver kept his quills and the quill turn, otherwise known as a QUILL WHEEL.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 14--

The meaning was subsequently extended to the spine of a feather, particularly the part closest to the skin, and by a further extension to the GOOSE FEATHER or SWAN's feather formed into a pen by pointing and slitting the lower end of the barrel. This part of the feather was also used for other purposes, like a plectrum or plucking device in some instruments like the HARPSICORD [Patents (1774)]. In 1784 the rate for SWAN QUILLs was 4 times that for GOOSE QUILLs [Rates (1784)]. The piece of doggerel verse that preceded the catalogue of one eighteenth-century retailer referred to CROW QUILLs in addition to those from the swan and the goose. The same verse threw in as an aside that quills from HAMBURG were 'esteem'd the best, (Being harder than the rest)' [Tradecards (1794)], but which type was not made clear.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1555

A quill was also an uncommon unit of measure referring to CINAMMON, which easily curls up into a tube, and to CORD and ROPE. In the latter case a specific quantity wound round a spool rather than coiled; though quill in this sense may have been no more thana quirky spelling of COIL. The term appears in entries like 'It 3 quiles twine laid & spun yarne wt 7 C 0 qr 2 li att 14s p c' [Inventories (1671)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1588

As a Bobbin: See also QUILL GOLD Found described as of CAMLET, MIDDLE, SMALL Found made of WOOD Found used for COPPER THREAD, GOLD THREAD, SILK, SILVER THREAD Found in units of DOZEN
As part of a Feather: See also QUILL CASE Found used to make TOOTHPICK Found described as BEST, DUTCH Found in units of DOZEN, HUNDRED, THOUSAND Found rated by the THOUSAND
As a unit of measure: Found used for RATLINE, ROPE, TWINE

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

Quill case

A CASE in which to keep QUILLs, PENs and PENCILs; a PEN CASE or PENCIL CASE.

OED earliest date of use: 1795 under Quill

Found described as WROUGHT

Sources: Inventories (late).

Quill gold

The term has not been found in the dictionaries, and in the Dictionary Archive only in a few records relating to the early part of the period. The Book of Rates for 1660, though the 1582 book is similar but less illuminating [Rates (1582)], show that 'Copper, gold and silver', by implication COPPER THREAD, GOLD THREAD and SILVER THREAD, were imported 'upon quills and rolls, or rolls, or in skain', and the rate calculated by the POUND of 16 OUNCE [Rates (1660)]. The same meaning of GOLD THREAD was probably intended by 'golde & silver some cutt & some wrought in it, & also other golde & silver in papers & on quills' [Inventories (1594)] and by the '2 ouncs & half of quill gold at 5s 2d p ounce' [Inventories (1643)]. On the other hand, the 'xj pap's of quill gold at xxd' [Inventories (1583)] suggest that quill gold here was GOLD LEAF. The precise meaning remains uncertain, though it seems certain that quill gold was gold in a form in which it could be applied decoratively, probably to TEXTILEs or PAPER.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of OUNCE, PAPER

Sources: Inventories (early), Rates.

Quill wheel

[quilling wheel; quille wheele; quill wheele]

A wheel for winding QUILLs or spools, for the weaver; known in other documents elsewhere as a 'Quill turn'.

OED online earliest date of use: 1825

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


[quylte; quylt; quiltt; quilte; quelte]

An article of BED furniture consisting of two large pieces of woven material having a layer of some soft substance (WOOL, FLOCKS, or DOWN) placed between them and fixed all together with stitching. Originally the quilt was probably used on top of the MATTRESS but under the body (hence UNDER QUILT); confirmation for this hypothesis may be found in a comment by John Houghton on BEECH leaves, which, he wrote, 'afford the best ... mattresses in the world, to lay under our quilts, instead of straw' [Houghton]. Later it became a COVERING for a BED rather than something to go underneath.

In an act of 1495, various stuffings were banned as 'abominable and contagious', and only clean FLOCKS or clean WOOL were allowed [Acts (1495)], suggesting the term was still used mostly for an under quilt, though FEATHERS were added in 1552 [Acts (1552)]. Although neither of these acts state whether quilts were seen as over, or under quilts, the latter seems the most probable.

Once quilts became coverings, they soon developed a decorative function similar to, but not identical with, the COUNTERPANE. (Both are quite often listed together, for example [Tradecards (n.d.)]). Although a few probate inventories give useful detail, like the '1 Quilt & a Cradle Quilt all of gold Colo' Sarsnett' [Inventories (1670)], much more information about them may be found in announcements of theft. For example, one stolen quilt was described as 'a good black Calamancoe Quilt, quilted in small squares with Worsted, the upper part of the Lining is a thin mixed grey Stuff, with a footing of black at the Bottom of the Lining' [Newspapers (1780)]. Those quilts designated as BED QUILTs are often even more extravagantly described. Like a BLANKET, a quilt was sometimes measured in width by the unit of a quarter YARD (nine INCH) as in 'One nine fourths false Quilt' [Inventories (1757)], that is it was 81 inches wide giving a generous overlap even on quite a large bed. The meanings of the two descriptors used in conjunction with a quilt, as in 'one brest quilt' [Inventories (1701)], and a 'false Quilt' [Inventories (1757)] are not clear.

OED earliest date of use: 1290

Found rated by the DOZEN, PIECE

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


Two layers of fabric padded with COTTON WOOL or waste, held in place by stitching. Quilting was a popular technique in the eighteenth century, so that a great variety of artefacts that involved the use of fabrics were designated as 'quilted'. Usually a showy material like SATIN was chosen for the outward face, while the lining would have been less costly and more hardwearing, as in 'Sattin & Callicoe quilted Bed Quilts' [Tradecards (1740)]. Two items of APPAREL in particular were often quilted, the CAP and the COAT.

OED earliest date of use: 1533


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

Quilted cap

[quilted capp; quilted & spanish lether capes; quilted & dimity caps; quilt capp; capps quilted]

A CAP made of a QUILTED fabric. Although there are no examples of quilted caps in the Dictionary Archive before 1660, they were popular throughout the period, unlike some other quilted articles of APPAREL like the QUILTED COAT that had a brief period of fashion. Quilted caps were most often worn by babies and small children, possibly to protect the head from bumps as much as for warmth.

OED earliest date of use: 1533


Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.

Quilted coat

A type of COAT, fashionable through most of the eighteenth century, either for men or for women, in which the skirt was QUILTED. Given the frequent association of such coats with HOOPs in advertisements, it would seem that the stiffening provided by quilting was sometimes further emphasized by the use of hooping as in 'Quilted Coats and Hoops' [Tradecards (18c.)], and 'Quilted and Hoop Coats, and worked ones to be wore under them' [Tradecards (1740s)]. In some examples, the lining seems to have been made with a contrasting fabric that could equally well stand display as in '17 Callamancoes & Silk Ditto [coats] at 16s p peice' [Inventories (1720)]. One advertisement in particular, illustrates the range of possibilities in this type of coat and the items that went with them: 'Satten & Silk Quilted Coats Callico & Russel Quilted Coats Callimanco & Stuff Quilted Coats Whalebone & Cane Hoops Duffil & Flannel under Coats Dimity Upper & under Coats' [Tradecards (18c.)].

Quilted coats were made of a great variety of fabrics, but mostly of a form of silk and they were one item of APPAREL for which retailers were anxious to advertise choice; for example, 'Great Variety of Sattin, Sarcenet and Persian quilted Coats, in the newest Patterns; Russel, Calimanco, and Durant ditto' [Newspapers (1780)]. Maintenance must have become a problem, particularly as the quilted coat went somewhat down market, being offered for sale READY MADE and SECOND HAND, as in 'Likewise all Sorts of ready made Cloaths, new and secondhand, for Men, Women, and Children ... as cheap Gowns and Quilted Coats' [Newspapers (1761)]. As a result a servicing industry grew up offering cleaning, dyeing and finishing such articles of APPAREL [Newspapers (1790)]; [Newspapers (1790)].

OED earliest date of use:1741


Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.


The term was used in two ways. It was applied firstly to a QUILTED material or the materials for making a QUILT but later also to a fabric with a diagonal pattern suggestive of true quilting. Possibly it was this that was called 'mock Quiltings' in one advertisement [Newspapers (1790)], and what was covered by the 1763 patent for 'Weaving and quilting in the loom' [Patents (1763)].

Secondly and earlier, quilting was the activity of padding and stitching together two or three TEXTILE layers. Much quilting was done by professionals, and QUILTED garments like the QUILTED CAP and the QUILTED COAT were offered for sale quite widely. Like all NEEDLEWORK of this type, the work could be extremely skilled, and the results ornate and beautiful. But quilting was also something that could be done by a competent needle woman in the home. Advertisements to teach her how to do it were placed in newspapers by entrepreneurers, for example [Newspapers (1708)] and patterns were available for those who could not invent their own, for example [Tradecards (1745)]. The equipment specifically designed for quilting has been noted occasionally, including the QUILTING FRAME and QUILTING NEEDLES.

OED earliest date of use: 1610 for the activity; c1710 for the fabric

Found described as FINE Found describing COTTON

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.

Quilting frame

A frame on which the materials used for making a QUILT are held evenly taut during the process of QUILTING. This is achieved, judging by an advertisement placed in an American newspaper, by the use of TENTER HOOKS [Pennsylvania Gazette 15 November 1739]. The frame itself according to a modern description (such frames are still popular in America, where quilting remains fashionable), seems to consist of four strips of wood that support the layers for quilting, and a frame with some rolling mechanism at either end by which the work already done can be rolled onwards, and a new section exposed. To this quilting is sometimes a communal activity in America, with a group of neighbours sitting round the frame to make a quilt for one of their number. This was formerly also the practice in Britain [Wright (1898-1905)].

No earliest date of use in the OED

Found described as OLD

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (late).
References: Wright (1898-1905).

Quilting needle

NEEDLES designed for QUILTING. They probably had a special taper to the point to facilitate sewing through the thick layers of fabric and stuffing as is the practice in modern quilting needles for use with a sewing machine.

Not usefully found in the OED

Found described as finished
Found in units of THOUSAND

Sources: Inventories (late), Tradecards.



The hard, acid, yellowish, PEAR-shaped fruit of a small tree, Cydonia vulgaris (alias Pyrus cydonia), belonging to the PEAR family. It is probably a native of western Asia [Masefield et al (1969)]. It has long been used in cookery as a preserve or to flavour dishes of other fruits. The fruit is sour and unpleasant when fresh, but the taste improves with cooking and lends scent to the dish. When recipes describe JELLY, MARMALADE etc. made from quinces as being red or white, they refer to the ripeness of the fruit and method of preparation and not the intrinsic colour of the fruit. Early dispensatories included DIACYDONIUM, or Confection of Quinces, and medical writers such as John Gerard claimed that 'They strengthen the stomack, stay vomiting, stops lask and also the bloudy flix' [Hess (1981)]. By the mid-seventeenth century quince had become a CONFECTIONERY product, sold as MARMALADE, and used to make WINE. The SEED was also employed in medicine and is found for sale by nurserymen. A manuscript, usually assigned to John Tradescant, has illustrations of two varieties of quince ripening from mid October [Ashmole MS, Roll 444.3, frames 15-6].

OED earliest date of use: c1325

Simone Clarke

Found described as DRIED, PRESERVED Found describing CHIP, OIL, SYRUP, Tree Found used to make a CONFECTION, PASTE
Found rated by the HUNDRED

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Ashmole MS, Hess (1981), Masefield et al. (1969).

Quinco bays

[quinque bays]

A TEXTILE in the form of a BAYS, it was according to Eric Kerridge of the worst sort and fit only for WADDING [Kerridge (1985)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Kerridge (1985).

Quins sauce

[quin's sauce; quin sauce]

A proprietary PREPARED SAUCE available from up-market outlets in the eighteenth century, for example [Tradecards (1800)]. A recipe for 'Quin's Sauce for Fish' in one cookery book shows it as a thin sauce, rather like Worcester Sauce today, made from PICKLED WALNUTS, ANCHOVY, SHALLOTs, SPICES and WINE. The author added that 'Two spoonfuls of this, in a little rich melted butter, [made] an admirable sauce' [Macdonald (fl. 1800)]. A sauce under a similar name was still available into the twentieth century [Spry and Hume (1956)].

Not found in the OED online

Found described as a RICH SAUCE
Found in units of BOTTLE, CASE

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Macdonald (fl. 1800), Spry and Hume (1956).



Also given as 'quiler'. The OED defines this term as the breech HARNESS of a CART HORSE, which presumably meant a breech band.

OED earliest date of use: 1697

Sources: Inventories (late).