Shop book - Shuttlecock

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Shop book - Shuttlecock', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Shop book - Shuttlecock", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Shop book - Shuttlecock", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

In this section

Shop book

[shoppe booke; shoppe boke; shoppbook; shopp booke; shopp book; shopebooke; shope booke; shopbooke; shop-book; shopbook; shopbocke; shop booke]

The OED defines it as a shopkeeper's or mechanic's account book. Although the OED's earliest date of use is 1609, the term has been noted in the sixteenth century, if only occasionally, and it was only in the following century that the term came into common use. Many, if not most, shopkeepers kept shop books of some sort out of necessity since the giving of credit was the norm. The imperfect systems of accounting, and the even more limited understanding of many of those involved, meant that the system was open to abuse. [Acts (1609)] attempted to remedy some of the grosser abuses [Cox (2000b)].

Shop books were commonly sold by booksellers and stationers, presumably ready lined for use. By the mid-eighteenth century at least, shop books were being made in a variety of forms to fit the complexities of sound book keeping. For example, James McLeod advertised 'all sorts of Shop Books, as Day-Books, Cash-Books, Bill-Books, Journals, Ledgers' in his newly-opened BIRMINGHAM shop in 1760 [Newspapers (1760)].

OED earliest date of use: 1609

Found described as Blank Found describing Accounts, DEBT

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Tradecards.
References: Cox (2000b).

Shop box

[shopp box; shope boxe]

The term is used in two ways in the Dictionary Archive. The first is to apply it to the BOX in which cash was kept in the shop, as in 'money in the Shope boxe' [Inventories (1583)]. The alternative was to apply it to a box in which the stock was kept as in 'A p'rcell of Currance raysins and soape in the Shop Boxes' [Inventories (1665)].

Not found in the OED

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

Shop candlestick

So long as trading normally took place in daylight hours and through the shop window with customers standing in the street, shop lighting may not have been a priority. This changed markedly during the seventeenth century and by the eighteenth many shops were designed to be well-lit showcases as well as places of sale. In these circumstances, adequate lighting became a matter of considerable importance. Although most lighting was probably fixed to minimize the risk of fire, specially designed shop candlesticks were apparently also produced and found occasionally in shops, for example [Inventories (1694)]; [Inventories (1697)].

Found described as BRASS

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

Shop chest

[shoppe chiste; shopp cheste; shopp chest; shope chest; shop chyst; shop chist]

A large CHEST in which goods were stored. Shop chests were more common in the earlier part of the period when shops were regarded less as places in which goods were displayed and sold, and more ones in which goods were stored. Presumably, since the term was quite common, a shop chest was to some extent specially designed for its purpose. In this sense it may have differed from other chests in shops not so described. Almost certainly a shop chest had a lock or other means of security and was probably more easily transported than those chests found in a domestic setting.

Not found in the OED

Found described as LARGE

See also SHOP BOX.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).

Shop debt

Shop debts had a somewhat different status from most other types of debt. They were only doubtfully recoverable at law, since the evidence of the SHOP BOOK was flawed in that it had not been endorsed by the debtor. The Lancashire gentleman, Nicholas Blundell, used the phrase apparently to distinguish shop debts from other debts he might have had when settling up his father's estate, and paying for his own purchases [Diaries (Blundell)]; [Diaries (Blundell)].

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

Shop goods

[shopp goods; shope goods; shop goodes; shop g'ds; schop goodes]

The OED gives the rather brief definition of shop goods as 'Merchandise to be sold from a shop'. In fact, the meaning may have been slightly more subtle. It appears that an essential difference was perceived to lie between household and shop goods, and it was accepted that some goods, more particularly GROCERY and HABERDASHERY, which were rarely if ever listed among the household goods, could and should be included among the assets in the shop.

OED earliest date of use: 1685

Found described as APOTHECARY

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

Shop sign

[shop-keepers sign]

A board, often large and ornate, hung outside a shop, usually painted with a pictorial representation indicative of the address or the trade of the shopkeeper. They were much used at least until house numbering provided an alternative method of locating a shop.

OED online earliest date of use: 1726 under Bookcase

Sources: Diaries, Tradecards.

Short flax

Short flax consisted of the shorter fibres separated out from LONG FLAX in the process of combing or heckling. In many ways it was deemed inferior to LONG FLAX as evident in [Acts (1736)], where the term was equated with BARR FLAX and not to be used to make SAIL CLOTH. However, short flax had its own desirable characteristics, being more suitable for felting and for spinning with other fibres such as COTTON, SILK, WOOL or WORSTED [Tomlinson (1854)].

Not found in the OED

See also LONG FLAX.
Sources: Acts.
References: Tomlinson (1854).

Short spinal

[spinnel short; short spinnal]

The OED uses as its definition under spinal the one in Simmonds 'Dictionary of Trade' (1858). This shows that it was a bleached YARN, otherwise known as UNWROUGHT INKLE, and agrees with the evidence of the Dictionary Archive [Acts (1713)]; [Rates (1582)]. It was used among other purposes to make INKLE, sometimes called WROUGHT INKLE in official documents.

OED earliest date of use: 1858

Found rated by the POUND

Sources: Acts, Rates.


It is often found in the form of 'short hemp'. A quotation in the OED, taken from Crabbe (1823), defined it as 'the toppings and tailings of hemp which are used to make bolt-ropes', which denotes ropes sewn all round the edge of a sail to protect it. The term was also employed to 'note the distinction between the long hemp used in the making of staple-ropes [that is ropes made from PETERBOROUGH HEMP, the clean grade, or RIGA HEMP called RHINE] and inferior hemp'. According to another quotation shorts were used also to make CANDLE WICK.

OED earliest date of use: 1790

Found described as BAR, BLACK, for Twine-Spinners, WHITE

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (late), TRADESCARDS.
References: Rees (1820), IV/350.



OED earliest date of use: 1611

Found described as WINDOW

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

Shut pan

Presumably a vessel of some sort from which the flow of TALLOW or the like could be controlled by a valve or shutter. The term has been found only once in the Dictionary Archive, following the FURNACEs in the work house belonging to a tallow chandler [Inventories (1705)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (late).



A dialect form of 'shoot' or 'chute'. The term denotes a gutter or an enclosed pipe down which some material like WORT may be transferred from one vessel to another. The entry 'One vate Two Coolers a Shutt and Stirrer' in the brewhouse was probably a shute [Inventories (1730)].

OED earliest date of use: 1847

Sources: Inventories (late).


A later form of SHUT. The term denotes a moveable wooden or iron, applied to the outside or the inside of a WINDOW. Those found in the Dictionary Archive seem to have been intended as a means of preventing a shop from being broken into. The exception may be found in the entry for 'a presse with Glazed shutters' [Inventories (1674)], which was probably a form of GLASS CASE. The shutters would have been secured with a LATCH or the like; hence '18 Iron shutter Latches a 8s doz' [Inventories (1799)].

OED earliest date of use: 1683

Found described as framed
Found in units of PAIR

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


[shyttell; shuttel; shittell; shettle]

An instrument used in weaving for passing the THREAD of the WEFT to and from one edge of the CLOTH to the other between the threads of the warp. The normal form of the shuttle resembles a boat. Along the middle there is an axle or spindle, on which revolves the QUILL or BOBBIN carrying the thread of the weft. Two entries are obscure; 'three twelve Shuttle Loomes' [Inventories (1698)], and '24 Shuttle Loom and Creels' [Inventories (1757)]. Both suggest a LOOM with a number of shuttles, which on this scale did not occur in a WEAVING LOOM.

OED earliest date of use: 1338

Found describing LOOM Found described as for weavers
Found in units of DOZEN, PAIR Found rated by the DOZEN

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


[shuttle cock]

A small piece of shaped CORK, fitted at the top with a circle of feathers to give it flight used in the game of 'Battledore and shuttlecock', in which each player is armed with a BATTLEDORE and the shuttlecock is hit and thereby projected from one player to the other.

OED earliest date of use: 1522

Sources: Tradecards.