Tooth brush - Toy card

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

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Tooth brush

[tooth powder and brushes; tooth brushes]

A small BRUSH with a long handle, used for cleansing the teeth, ideally using a TOOTH POWDER to do so. The two were sometimes sold together, as in 'Bott's Tooth Powder and Brushes' [Newspapers (1798)]. A tooth brush, like the TOOTHPICK, contributed greatly to personal hygiene, and to an appearance of good health. This was highly esteemed and presumably deemed worthy of investment, which may have been one reason why retailers often emphasized the choice they stocked, as in 'A curious assortment of Tooth Brushes' [Tradecards (1794)].

OED earliest date of use: 1651

Found in units of DOZEN

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

Tooth drawer

[tooth drawer]

A SURGICAL INSTRUMENT for extracting teeth. It was also known as a PAICE. Randle Holme illustrated and briefly described a number of implements for extracting teeth, including a tooth PINCER, but neither a tooth drawer nor a paice [Holme (2000)]. Since the skill of the dentist lay then in extracting the tooth as quickly as possible before the victim could react too violently to the pain, a selection of appropriate implements to fit all types of teeth must have been desirable.

OED earliest date of use: 1597

Found rated by the DOZEN

Sources: Rates.
References: Holme (2000).

Tooth powder

[tooth-powder; tooth pow-der; teeth powder; powder for the teeth]

A powder used for cleaning the teeth, a dentifrice. It was used either with a sponge or a TOOTH BRUSH. It probably contained some abrasive material and was designed to keep the teeth white. This was regarded as an important sign of good health. Perhaps for this reason, manufacturers were prepared either to use their own name as in 'Bott's Tooth Powder and Brushes' [Newspapers (1798)] or 'Bourquin's Tooth-Powder and Dentifrice' [Tradecards (1794)], not to mention Bayley's Powder, Ruspin's Powder and Spence's Powder, all 'for the teeth' [Tradecards (1790s)]. Royalty was also appropriated as in 'Prince of Wales's Tooth Powder Ditto, Duchess of York's' [Tradecards (1794)], and 'The King of Frances Teeth Powder' [Recipes (Lowers)].

OED earliest date of use: 1542

Found described as BRITISH, Devonshire, Jacksons Found containing seaweed

Sources: Newspapers, Recipes, Tradecards.

Toothache lozenges

[tooth-ach lozenges]

There can be little room for doubt as to why toothache lozenges were offered for sale. The big unknown is the principal ingredient. Probably it was CLOVES, known today, as a reliever of toothache.

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of small BOX

See also LOZENGE.
Sources: Tradecards.


[tooth-pick; tooth picker; tooth pick; tooth pick; picktooth]

An INSTRUMENT for picking the teeth; usually a pointed QUILL or a small piece of WOOD but perhaps sometimes made of GOLD, or SILVER or other materials. In the case of the two precious metals, it may have been only the handles that were so made, with a harder material for the functional part; as the 'Tooth picks, bound with Gold, 1s. each, in Cases' [Tradecards (1794)]. Toothpicks appeared at least as early as during the Middle Ages, but they became more important and more decorative after 1660, when a good set of teeth was an essential sign of good health to a broadening sector of the population. They were not infrequently offered for sale alongside, or with TOOTHBRUSHes, suggesting that they functions were not seen to be absolutely identical [Inventories (1679)].

Toothpick was also the name given to the umbelliferous plant, Ammi visnaga, the hardened umbels of which were used as toothpicks. This may explain the 'Santa Rosa toothpicks, made by the Nuns', who otherwise specialised in manufacturing ARTIFICIAL FLOWERs [Newspapers (1758)]. This plant was sometimes labelled Spanish toothpick, which may account for the LISBON toothpicks found for sale, for example [Tradecards (18c.)].

'Tooth picker' may have been no more than an alternative name for a toothpick and it has been noted in similar contexts, for example [Inventories (1671)], though Randle Home illustrated one with a pointed tool at right-angles to its handle among other SURGEONS INSTRUMENTS [Holme (2000)].

OED earliest date of use: 1488

Found described as FRENCH, LISBON Found made of GOLD, HORN, IVORY, QUILL, SILVER, TORTOISE SHELL Found in units of DOZEN Found rated by the GROSS

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Holme (2000).

Toothpick case

[tooth-pick case; tooth pick case; tooth pick and needle cases; picktooth-case]

A small decorative CASE, sometimes made of SILVER or other decorative material, in which to keep a TOOTHPICK. It was also called, though much more rarely, a toothpick BOX. Toothpick cases of SILVER were mentioned specifically in acts regulating the hall marking of silver [Acts (1739)], and they are commonly listed in advertisements for TOYs. For example, one toy maker had cases of STEEL and of BONE [Inventories (1733)]. It was quite common for up-market retailers to stock considerable choice. For example, one had a 'Great Choice of Picktooth-Cases' [Tradecards (18c.)], while another had 'Silver Tooth Pick Cases Ditto, in tortoishell, ivory and morocco, with glass' [Tradecards (1794)]. Some interesting implications arise from this. For instance, it may suggest that using a Toothpick in public was socially acceptable, and that therefore a decorative case was a desirable personal accessory. Tooth care was regarded both as a cosmetic and a health priority and there are many other products, some proprietary, as well as several instruments to help in keeping the teeth looking good, including the TOOTH BRUSH.

OED earliest date of use: 1684

Found described as PLAIN, richly ornamented Found made of BONE, IVORY, MOROCCO, SILVER, TORTOISE SHELL, STEEL

Sources: Acts, Inventories (late), Newspapers, Tradecards.

Topped hemp

[topt hemp]

HEMP having the top and bottom of the stem removed, leaving stems that were shorter but more uniform and of better quality. The discarded parts were called TOPPINGS or, in the case of Russian hemp, CODILLA. Topped hemp was specified for some sorts of CORDAGE in [Acts (1800)].

OED earliest date of use: 1794 under Top

Sources: Acts.


The tops of HEMP, according to [Acts (1785)] from which the 'staple' part had been taken away. The same act prohibited its use for making CABLE. However, it was used to make a poor quality YARN.

OED earliest date of use: 1794

Sources: Acts.

Tortoise shell comb

[toter shell do; tortoishell comb; tortoise-shell, and horn combs; tortoise shell & horn combs; tortois shell comb]

Randle Holme wrote that TORTOISE SHELL - COMBs were made of both the sea and the land Tortoise shell [Holme (2000)]. Cox is more specific, writing that they were made chiefly from the hawksbill or imbricated turtle [Cox (1966, pb 1969)]. Because of the value of TORTOISE SHELL and TURTLE SHELL, counterfeit combs were made of 'Horn stained with Tortois shell colours' [Holme (2000)].

Not found in the OED online

Found described by LARGE, SMALL Found with their CASE
Found in units of DOZEN, GROSS

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Cox (1966, pb 1989), Holme (2000).


A TOY, later also known as a TEETOTUM. It was a small four-sided disk or DIE, having a letter inscribed on each of its sides, and a spindle passing down through it by which it could be spun. The letter that lay uppermost when it fell decided the fortune of the player. Originally the letters each stood for a Latin word but were used to represent English ones later; T from the Latin 'totum' (take-all), A (accept), D (give up), and N from the Latin 'Nihil' (nothing).

OED earliest date of use: 1500-20

Found rated by the GROSS

Sources: Tradecards.

Touch box

[twyche boxe; twitch box; tutche boxe; tutche box; tuche boxe; tuch box; touche box; touch-boxes; touchboxes; touchbox; tichboxe]

A box for 'touch-powder' or priming-powder (a fine GUNPOWDER), formerly forming part of a musketeer's equipment. They were often made or covered with a soft material like LEATHER or VELVET to reduce the risk of sparks.

OED earliest date of use: 1549

Found described as covered with LEATHER, covered with VELVET Found made of IRON - GILT, LEATHER Found rated by the DOZEN

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

Toupee comb

[toupee ditto; toupee and tail combs; ditto toupee]

A form of the WIG COMB [Cox (1966, pb 1969)]

Not found in the OED online

Found described as ALABASTER, CHINA, SMALL

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Cox (1966, pb 1989).

Tours taffeta

[towers taffata]

TOURS in FRANCE was a noted centre of silk production and 'Taffata called Towers taffata the yarde iijs iiijd' appeared among the varieties of TAFFETA listed in the Book of Rates for 1582 [Rates (1582)]. Regulation in England was less restrictive, so that many weavers from Tours, particularly those who were protestants, emigrated to this country. As a result, Tours lost much of its pre-eminence in the second half of the seventeenth century [Kerridge (1985)].

Sources: Rates.
References: Kerridge (1985).


[towne; towe]

Particularly during the early part of the period, 'tow' was quite commonly used as a variant of 'two'. Although it may mean the unworked stems of FLAX or HEMP before it is DRESSED or heckled, this has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. Most commonly the term referred to the fibres of HEMP or FLAX, even WOOL, prepared for spinning into YARN by scutching, although it could also have referred to the shorter fibres of HEMP or FLAX separated by heckling from the longer, finer, long-stapled fibres called LINE. In this form it was a component of NAVAL STORES. Like most other TEXTILE raw materials, it was used elliptically; for example, to mean TOWEN - CLOTH.

OED earliest date of use: 1377

Found for sale measured by: BAG, C, LB, MAT, STONE, TON Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT, TUN

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Rates, Tradecards.

Tow card

An IMPLEMENT with iron teeth for setting in order the fibres of TOW, similar to a WOOL CARD but adapted to suit working with TOW

OED earliest date of use: 1563/87

Found described as NEW, OLD
Found marketed by BUNCH, PAIR Found rated by the DOZEN

See also HARD CARD.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates.

Tow comb

[tow combe]

A COMB designed to order the TOW of FLAX or HEMP, just as the WOOL CARD was used for WOOL

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).


The term denotes 'made of TOW', though more often the term 'tow' was used.

OED earliest date of use: 1686


See also TOW.
Sources: Inventories (early).

Tower head knife

[towerhead knives]

Probably a KNIFE with a decorative HANDLE made in a form similar to the chess piece usaully called a 'Rook' or 'Castle'. 'Tower head' or 'Tower head knives' have not been noted in the dictionaries and only once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of a short cutler [Inventories (1719)].

Found in units of DOZEN, GROSS

Sources: Inventories (late).


[toye; toie]

A toy can be defined as a small article of little value; a knick-knack or trinket etc. such as a BUTTON CORRAL, NUTMEG GRATER or THIMBLE, but also as a fashionable item like a TOOTHPICK CASE or NEEDLE CASE or something on a bigger scale like a CANDLESTICK. Toys were made of many materials such as GLASS, IVORY LEAD, PASTE, PEWTER and TIN; in fact almost any that could be readily shaped or patterned on the surface. Those made of CHINA or EARTHENWARE, and of GOLD or SILVER were particularly important [Clifford (1999)], but many were of mixed and contrasting materials, such as the 'Snuff Boxes, whereof Tops or Bottoms are made of Shell or Stone' and the rims of gold or the 'Stone or Glass Bottles or Phials' with stoppers or screw tops of precious metal [Acts (1739)]. As might be expected toys were often further enhanced by decorative finishes, and so have been noted as ENAMELLED, GILT, JAPANNED or PAINTED. The designations used by some firms suggest a complex organization controlling workers with a wide range of skills, for example 'Taylors & Perry Working Gold & Silversmiths, Jewellers, Tortoiseshell & Ivory Box Gilt & General Toy Manufacturers' [Tradecards (18c.)]. Good lists of toys and similar items are found in some probate inventories, for example [Inventories (1706)], and in advertisements, for example [Tradecards (1794)].

The demand for, and availability, of toys from the mid seventeenth century onwards is indicative of, not only increased industrial skills, but also of the changing perceptions of consumers. There seems also to have been more people able to afford such items. That toys were apparently deemed appropriate in the seventeenth century as a gift, suggests they had a cultural value beyond a mere monetary one, for example [Diaries (Josselin)].

In many sources toys were variously labelled and so difficult to analyse and quantify. They were, for example, frequently subsumed in phrases like BIRMINGHAM WARE, while other sources, for example [Acts (1739)], they were included lists of items that might elsewhere be labelled as toys. Nevertheless, despite the elusive evidence, it is clear that toys were an important item of trade by the early eighteenth century and in great demand. There were shortages that the trade was unable to meet [Enys (1997)], and toy makers in BIRMINGHAM found it necessary to advertise for apprentices [Newspapers (1790)], a useful indicator of expansive pressures on business. It is interesting to note that one such advertisement asked for 'a little Taste for Drawing', suggesting that toymakers were anxious to improve their capacity to do their own design [Newspapers (1780)]. There are hints that toys, like may other fashionable items, were beginning to be labelled in a form of proto-branding; for example, 'the Original and Imperial Metal Toys' [Newspapers (1740)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1500

The term had other, more specific meanings, particularly the one most common today as a plaything for children or others, something contrived for amusement rather than for practical use. This meaning is discussed more fully under CHILDRENS TOYS. Some so-called Toys, like GINGERBREAD Toys, were used as rewards in education.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: a1586

A third meaning even more remote from the original (perhaps because it comes from a different root and is not found in the OED) is of a TEXTILE. Montgomery defined it as 'a general term for WORSTED dress goods made in NORWICH' [Montgomery (1984)]. In the Dictionary Archive they have been noted in the making [Inventories (1697)], and for sale in the shops [Inventories (1696)]. An extension of this meaning (that is in the OED) is as an article of APPAREL, a cap or other closefitting head dress. The OED suggests it was peculiar to Scotland, but this may not have been so. The evidence in the Dictionary Archive is not conclusive but entries like 'It 11 Combs 5 little boxes other small toyes 3 hoods & 1 p're of slippers' are suggestive of this meaning [Inventories (1667)]. Another example in the Dictionary Archive suggests an item of HABERDASHERY, possibly a FRINGE made of WORSTED; '11 li ½ stoole fring & 7 li ½ toy 4s 8d' [Inventories (1676)].

OED earliest date of use as a head dress: 1611

As an object other than a textile: Found described as BRASS, BRISTOL, CURIOUS, EARTHEN, ENGLISH, FOREIGN, GLASS, LEAD, LONDON, METAL, NEW FASHIONED, OLD, PEWTER, superior, TIN, WOODEN Found describing BEAKER, CUSTARD DISH, IRON, NOSEGAY POT, PORRINGER, SAUCER, TEA SPOON Found in units of BOX Found carried in VATs
As a textile or textile product: Found described as UNDRESSED Found used to make MANTUA, PETTICOAT Found in units of LB, PIECE, YARD

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Clifford (1999), Enys (1997), Montgomery (1984).

Toy card

Possibly toy cards were small cards designed to instruct or amuse children, but equally likely they were intended for adults. [Tradecards (1794)], a catalogue replete with TOYs of all sorts, includes the only record of toy cards in the Dictionary Archive, but Sayer and Bennett's Catalogue for 1775 provided material for all ages listing, for example, 'Moral and instructive Emblems for the Entertainment of Children, commonly called Turn-ups, Price 6d each', as well as 'Designs in Miniature for Watch-Cases ... Price 3d each, neatly coloured 6d.' [Sayer and Bennett (1775, facs. 1970)]. These were almost certainly toy cards under another name.

Found described as LARGE, SMALL

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Sayer and Bennett (1775).