Rosin - Royal plums

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

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[rozen; rossin; rosin; rosen]

Rosin in a solid state obtained as a residue of the distillation of OIL OF TURPENTINE from crude TURPENTINE. The colour of the product, yellow, brown or black, depends upon degree of refinement. It was an important component of NAVAL STORES since, along with PITCH and TAR, it was used for waterproofing. Because of this, during the eighteenth century there were energetic efforts to find alternative non-European sources of supply. In 23 ELIZ C8 it was referred to as a common adulterant of WAX. It was an ingredient of BROWN SOAP, ROSIN SOAP and YELLOW SOAP and was used to treat coughs, arthritis, and as an ingredient of OINTMENTs, so that it may often be found in lists of DRUGS or medicines. It was presumably in its powdered form that it was kept in boxes designed for the purpose, hence 'rosin box'. Particularly before the eighteenth century, rosin appears to have been used sometimes interchangeably with RESIN.

OED earliest date of use: a1350

Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT, PECE, TUN

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

Rosin stone


This term has not been located in the OED, but presumably it referred to ROSIN in the form of lumps rather than powdered.

Not found in the OED

See also ROSIN.
Sources: Tradecards.

Rotula anthelminthica

Rotula anthelminthica was one of the many QUACK MEDICINEs intended to deal with intestinal worms. Giving the name in Latin was one way the manufacturer attempted to give a spurious respectability to his product, another was the claim a qualification for himself. Unusually, Edward Storey took out a patent for his product [Patents (1759)], although he was already advertising 'Dr Stories Rotula Anthelminthica or Sugar Cakes for purging Worms etc' at 1s a BOX for nearly a decade before that [Newspapers (1750)]. Perhaps with his patent safely in his pocket, he felt he could use the English version of his little cakes, which by the 1760s were being advertised as 'Edward Story's Worm destroying cakes' [Newspapers (1761)], or alternatively he thought his name was sufficient recommendation.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Newspapers.

Rough flax

[rough or undressed flax; fflax in the rough]

A term sometimes found contrasted with DRESSED FLAX, hence flax less processed, and perhaps not yet ready for spinning. [Acts (1737)] seems to have equated rough flax with UNDRESSED FLAX. Variants are 'fflax in the rough', 'rough or undressed flax'.

Not found in the OED


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

Rough hemp

Randle Holme wrote of 'Hemp in the ruff'and equated it with undressed HEMP [Holme (2000)]. In [Rates (1657)], imported hemp is divided into three categories; the most dearly rated at £7 CWT was 'Hemp short dressed', next at £5 CWT came 'Hemp called Cullen and Steel Hemp' and other sorts of dressed hemp, and finally at only £1 CWT 'Rough Hemp'. Assuming that this adequately reflects quality, undressed hemp was a fairly poor grade. The differential remained in [Rates (1784)], although by this time there were only two categories: 'dressed' and 'rough or undressed'.

Not found in the OED

Found described by MUSCOVY, SPRUCE Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT

Sources: Rates.
References: Holme (2000).

Rough orange

[ruff orrange]

The term should possibly start 'ruff'. Its meaning is obscure, but one possibly explanation is that it referred to an ORANGE PEA in its rough state, before it had been turned to smoothness, hence the advertisements for 'Fine turned Orange Peas' [Newspapers (1790)], and 'Orrange & Orris peas for Issues & Ruff Orranges' [Tradecards (18c.)].

Not found in the OED

Found in association with ORANGE PEA

Sources: Tradecards.

Round box

[rownd box; round-boxes; round-box; round boxes]

A term that could have had a variety of applications. For example, the 'great round box bound with Iron' [Inventories (1637)] owned by an apothecary, but listed and appraised as being in the house rather than in the shop, was probably no more than a BOX that happened to be round and with iron bands. On the other hand, the 'smale round Tynn boxes' valued at 1d each [Inventories (1673)], and the '40 papers of Round small Boxes' [Inventories (1682)], were probably small PILL BOXes. The round box, however, was also a specific box, also called a FRENCH BOX and used for holding MARMALADE.

Not found in the OED

As a box for MARMALADE: Found described as for MARMALADE or JELLY, OLD
Found rated by the DOZEN

See also FRENCH BOX.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.

Round frock

[run ffrock; rownd frock]

An alternative term for a SMOCK FROCK; a loose upper garment of coarse material, generally worn by country people over their other APPAREL. The Dialect Dictionary has 'round frocked - dressed in a SMOCK FROCK' [Wright (1898-1905)]. An alternative may have been a 'Run frock', which is neither in the OED nor the Dialect Dictionary.

The shopkeeper Thomas Turner wrote of cutting out round frocks [Diaries (Turner)],and paying a women to sow them up [Diaries (Turner)]. Judging by the number of entries on these lines in his diary, round frocks were an important element in his stock. They have been noted in some eighteenth-century shops, usually made of some coarse material such as CANVAS or DOWLAS [Inventories (1757)]. Advertisements seeking information about deserters and the like, show that they were worn by poor working men [Newspapers (1758)].

OED earliest date of use of Round frock: 1797 under Round

Found described as dirty, half worn, HEMPEN Found made of CANVAS, DOWLAS

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

Round head


A term found in the Dictionary Archive with at least two meanings. It was applied to a type of NAIL, presumably with a rounded head, as in '3 thousand of the best 2 Roundheads', as opposed to CLUB HEAD and THICK HEAD [Inventories (1711)]. It has also been noted among the TOOLs of a tinman/brazier [Inventories (1799)].

Randle Holme included a weapon used in the siege of Chester in the 1640s that consisted of 'an ash staffe with a round head set full of spikes or Iron nayles, which they called round heads, in derision of them that beseiged the citty, who were called Round-heads' [Holme (2000)]. This has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive.

Not found in the OED in the first sense

Found described as BEST
Found in units of THOUSAND, HUNDRED

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000).


An uncommon COTTON - TEXTILE imported from India. It is possible that this term was used only briefly in British trade in an attempt to avoid the heavy duties imposed on MUSLIN; a stratagem an act of 1700 was designed to thwart by defining rowallew as MUSLIN [Acts (1700)]. Rowallews were not included among Milburn's list of INDIAN - PIECE GOODS [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)], which further suggests that it was not a common term even in India. They have not been noted in the shops in the Dictionary Archive so that if, and when, they were available for sale, it was probably under the generic term of muslin.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Acts.
References: Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).

Rowed fustian

A TEXTILE but technically not a FUSTIAN at all, which was characterized by its piled surface. By contrast, rowed fustian was a brushed fabric that had been rowed (a nap had been raised) on a FUSTIAN BOARD and then shorn. This form of fustian was an English innovation of the early seventeenth century and seems to have been a specialism of East Anglia.

Sources: Houghton.
References: Kerridge (1985), 124.

Rowing card

Rowing was a way of raising the nap on a fabric using a rowing CARD. The effect differed slightly from that obtained by using a conventional card made with TEASELS, though [Patents (1672)] was designed to protect a method of making SILK SHAG using either method of raising the nap, which suggests that the differences were slight.

The process of rowing has an OED reference dated c1475, but there is neither definition nor earliest date of use for rowing card.

Sources: Patents.

Royal plums

[plumb royals]

The royal plums, noted only once in the Dictionary Archive in a newspaper advertisement for 'Plumb Royals in Half Boxes' [Newspapers (1790)] were probably the same as those from the tree called 'La Royal' in an eighteenth-century catalogue [Galpine (1983)]. There is no further information on them, but the context and language suggest that they may have been similar to FRENCH PLUMS, or at least that they were brought from France.

Found in units of HALF BOX

Sources: Newspapers.
References: Galpine (1983).