Shading engine - Sheave

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

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Shading engine

The precise function of this so-called ENGINE is not known, but it may have been an alternative name for a SCORING ENGINE, though it is hard to see why. They were seen as of sufficient importance to be included as 'Scoring or Shading Engines' in the long list of TOOLs, the export of which was prohibited in 1785 [Acts (1785)].

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Acts.



Of the many possible meanings of this term noted in the OED, the only one found in the Dictionary Archive relates to weaving, where a shaft was one of a pair of long laths between which the HEDDLEs were stretched. It was also applied to the pair taken together, as in '3 sett of shaftes and theere geares xijs' [Inventories (1608)]. The term also appears in compounds with a prefixed numeral, as four-shaft, ten-shaft, probably indicating the number of harnesses employed in manufacturing a particular fabric. Given that shafts were used in pairs, these probably referred respectively to two and five harnesses. More elliptical is one entry noted in a will not included in the Dictionary Archive that reads 'Loome with a geare and slaye being a fowerteene upright'. Here the 'fowerteene upright' may indicate the number of shafts and indirectly the number of harnesses [National Archives (mss), PROB11/106].

OED online earliest date of use in this sense: 1801

Found described as for a DRAW LOOM
Found in units of SET

Sources: Inventories (early).

Shaft eel

[shaft, kine or dole eeles]

A variety of EEL, possibly synonymous with shafflin, which was a middle-sized eel. It was a form of eel that the Customs officials wanted to include in the Rates where they were linked with DOLE EEL and KINE EEL. This may be because the names are synonymous, or because all three were rated together below the rate for SPRUCE EEL and STUB EEL but above that for PIMPER EEL [Rates (1582)]; [Rates (1660)]. They were not rated in 1784, perhaps because the importation of all but QUICK EEL had been prohibited in 1666 [Acts (1666)]. It suggests that shaft eels were already processed to some extent on importation, perhaps DRIED or SMOKED or packed in BRINE.

OED earliest date of use: 1411

Found rated by the BARREL, LAST

Sources: Rates.


[shegg; shagge; shagg]

In the sixteenth century and the early seventeenth, shag or shagged was used adjectivally, presumably to indicate a pronounced nap. This use of the term became increasingly uncommon during the seventeenth century. Instead, the term was used for a thick piled or long haired TEXTILE, much less closely woven and with a longer pile than PLUSH, or one having a velvet nap on one side (hence VELVET shag). It was usually made of WORSTED, but sometimes of SILK or SILK with a LINEN ground. In 1672 a Londoner named Edmund Blood patented 'a new manufacture, a rich silk shagg, commodious for garments, made of silk wast, hetherto of little or noe use, and shagged by tezell or rowing cards, like as English baize, rowed fustians or dimatyes, a sort of manufacture never before known or made in this our kingdome', [Kerridge (1985)]; [PATENTS 0165 (1672)], for the short title]. An entry in an inventory of 1695 offered 'silk shag breeches' [Inventories (1695)]. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, there were several patents exploiting new techniques; for example using the stocking frame to make 'plain, cut or figured' shags [Patents (1767)]. An advertisement in 1792 of a Coventry manufacturer of shags, who advertised himself as a supplier to the Prince of Wales of superfine silk, Princes feather and hunting shags, suggests that the fabric in silk attracted a fashionable market [Tradecards (1792)].

Shag was commonly offered for sale in the shops, at prices ranging from under 1s to over 5s, depending on the fibres and the dye. By the late seventeenth century many shops stocked several varieties. It was often used for warm linings or for MEN's WAISTCOATs and BREECHES. It was also used for WOMEN's HATs, and it has also been noted used to make BANDs and WHISKs. Advertisements requesting information on runaways indicate that it was popular among working people, particularly for breeches, for which it was often dyed blue.

The term was used in the seventeenth century, though not in the Dictionary Archive, as the name of items of APPAREL, and it was applied to RUGs and MATs made from shag or from fabrics with similar characteristics. The term is also found as an abbreviation for SHAG TOBACCO.

OED earliest use: 1592 as a fabric; 1634 as a garment, rug or mat

Found in the shops measured by PIECE, YARD

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Kerridge (1985), 78-79, 128, Montgomery (1984), 345-6.

Shag bays

A TEXTILE, a new form of BAYS introduced by 1634 in Essex and Suffolk, with a loosely woven weft and a long, open, unshorn nap

Not located in the OED

Found described as RED
Found in the shops measured by YARD

See also SHAG.
Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Kerridge (1985), 106.

Shag tobacco

At times it was probably no more than tobacco ready prepared and cut. Since it is often contrasted with small or short cut tobacco, one can assume that shag was relatively more roughly cut tobacco. Dodd, on the other hand, considered it to be a strong dark, well liquored TOBACCO cut into fine shreds and used for both chewing and smoking. In the documents shag tobacco may be found shortened to 'shag'.

OED earliest use: 1789

Found described as BEST Found in the shops measured by HOGSHEAD, LB

Sources: Acts, Inventories (late), Newspapers.
References: Dodd (1843, reprint 1967), 126.


[shakareen; shagrene; shagreene; shaggreen; shaggereen; shaggareen]

This term was primarily applied to a type of unTANNED LEATHER that had a rough granular surface. It was prepared from the skin of the HORSE, ASS, or shark, seal, etc. and frequently dyed green. Originally imported from Arabia, it was being imitated in England from the end of the seventeenth century [Collins (1877)]. It was a popular ornamental level, used mainly for small cases, hence items like the 'small fiz'd Watch with an enamell'd Plate, the Outside-Case Green Shagreen studded' [Newspapers (1760)], or the 'Pinchbeck Watch, with a green Shagreen Case' [Newspapers (1770)]. Imitations were also openly advertised, like the 'Prospects and Opera Glasses, either covered with Nurskin and Brass, or Black in Imitation of Shagreen' [Newspapers (1770)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1677

Shagreen was also the name given to a spotted SILK TAFFETA, so called because its pebbled surface resembled the leather shagreen. It was made in all colours, but particularly in BLACK. It was used primarily for lining clothes [Montgomery (1984)], although it was quite expensive as evidenced by one example valued at 3s 8d YARD [Inventories (1705)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1702

As a leather: Found describing INSTRUMENT CASE, picker case, SKIN, TWEEZERS
As a TEXTILE: Found listed under MERCERY WARE Found described as BLACK, BLACK AND WHITE, SILK Found describing INKLE, WORSTED
Found in units of PIECE, YARD

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Collins (1877), Montgomery (1984).


[shaloon; shallowne; shalloone; sallowne; sallan]

A cheap, closely woven, twilled TEXTILE made of WORSTED, often hot pressed, chiefly used for LININGS. According to Kerridge, its original name was 'SERGE de Chalons' although it was not a serge. It was listed among the NEW DRAPERY developed during the sixteenth century, later it would have been classified as STUFF. Shalloons of English making are first referred to in c1640, their manufacture first being centred in Hampshire and Berkshire.

Shalloons were heavily stocked by shopkeepers, often in a range of qualities, colours and finishes. One shopkeeper had 4123 yards and a stock of over 100 yards is not uncommon. As a fairly cheap, light STUFF one would have expected that it would feature widely in APPAREL, but this is not the case in the Dictionary Archive. ACTS 5 GEO2 c21 (1732) listed shalloon among the fabrics 'for the proper use for Clothes of any Mariner or Passenger' to prevent unlawful export. However, the many runaways and deserters advertised in the newspapers apparently rarely wore shalloon, although it does appear twice in advertisements among stolen goods as lining, once for a waistcoat and once for a coat.

OED earliest date of use: 1270/1

Found described as BLACK, BLUE, BROAD, BROWN, Deal, ELL BROAD, Flanders, GREEN, [scarlet] IN GRAIN, PURPLE, RED, red and blue, red blue and black, SAD, SCARLET, SERGE, WHITE, willow, YELLOW Found describing SAY
Found in the shops measured by PIECE, YARD

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Kerridge (1985), 64, Montgomery (1984), 346-7.

Shallot vinegar

[shalot vinegar; do shallot]

A quotation of 1842 in the OED online suggested that it was an alternative name for GARLIC VINEGAR.

OED earliest date of use: 1842 online under Shallot

Found in units of BOTTLE, CASE

Sources: Tradecards.

Shaving box

[shaving boxes; shaveing boxes]

A small round BOX designed for SOAP and possibly for the lathering SHAVING BRUSH used with it, although that is often advertised or listed as a separate item, for example [Newspapers (1770)]. They were advertised as being sold both 'filled with SOAP' and empty [Tradecards (1801)].

OED earliest date of use: 1775

Found described as with GLASSes, INLAID, PLAIN

Sources: Diaries, Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.


[sheves; sheffe; shefe; sheefe; sheaffe; sheaff; sheafe]

A term of measurement with different applications in different situations, though all of them hark back to the notion of a bundle of some sort. In common parlance, it was the label given to one of the large bundles in which it was usual to bind cereal stalks after reaping as in 'Barley in the shefe xx stryke iij li' [Inventories (1591)], and by extension a similar bundle of the stalks or blooms of other plants. The wheatsheaf was a popular shop sign, for example [Tradecards (1735)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: c725

A sheaf was also a measure of quantity, used for STEEL and perhaps IRON. According to the 1582 Book of Rates, there were 6 sheaf to the BUNDLE or HALF BARREL, and 30 GAD to the sheaf [Rates (1582)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1309-10

The third and most common use in the Dictionary Archive, though not necessarily elsewhere, was a BUNDLE or quiverful of 24 ARROWs. The inventory of a fletcher or arrow-maker shows that the term could be extended to apply to arrows in process of manufacture; hence 'eight score sheffe of arrowe timber and one' and 'fyve sheffe of long ware and eight' and 'iij sheffe of short ware' [Inventories (1600)]. The term seems to have become obsolete in the seventeenth century.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1377

Other products also measured by the sheaf, but not noted in the Dictionary Archive include TIMBER and GLASS. For the latter it consisted of a bundle of six plates.

As used for GRAIN: Found as a unit of measure for BARLEY, PEAS

Sources: Inventories (early), Rates.


[sheff; sheeve]

A wheel having a groove in the circumference to receive a cord passing over it, a pulley; especially one of the pulleys connected in a BLOCK. Also, a similar grooved wheel designed to run on a rail or bar. Only the first meaning has been noted in the Dictionary Archive. According to John Houghton, ASH made the best sheaves [Houghton], but an eighteenth-century act suggests LIGNUM VITAE was also used [Acts (1727)]. Probably any HARDWOOD was employed as convenient.

Sheaves were extensively used by the navy and at sea generally. According to William Falconer's Universal Dictionary of the Marine, quoted in the OED, a sheave was a solid cylindrical wheel, fixed in a channel, and moveable about an axis. They were either fixed in blocks, or in channels cut through the masts, caps, cat-heads, or sides of a ship. Manufacture was expensive, and there was therefore considerable interest in improving methods of production, and making the process cheaper [Patents (1762)]. The problem was largely resolved in the early-nineteenth century by Marc Isambard Brunel who patented and introduced a method of making block-pulleys by machinery. This was said to have saved £24, 000 in the first full year of production [Chambers (1938)].

OED earliest date of use: 1336

Found in units of PAIR

Sources: Inventories (early), Patents, Tradecards.
References: Chambers (1938).