Warping bar - Watch chain

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

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'Warping bar - Watch chain', 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/warping-bar-watch-chain [accessed 19 April 2024]

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Warping bar

[worpin bar; warpynge bare; warpinge bare; warping-bar; warping barr]

The warping bar was an instrument used in weaving for measuring the length WARP required to weave a piece of cloth. It consisted of a vertical rotating framework with measured dimensions. Its use superseded an older method of using pegs on the wall [see WARPING PIN] and was replaced in turn by the WARPING MILL [Trowbridge Museum (online)]. Using the bar, or board as it is called in some sources, involved the operator in much walking as he wound the yarn on, whereas with the mill it can be revolved the required number of times by a stationary worker turning a handle [OED online, Warping]. In the Dictionary Archive the warping bar is found in association with a RATHE or WREATH [Inventories (1608)]; [Inventories (1720)] or with a SCARR [Inventories (1699)]; [Inventories (1686)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1813 under Warping

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Trowbridge Museum.

Warping block

A BLOCK used by rope-makers in warping off their YARN preparatory to twisting several strands into ROPE

OED online earliest date of use: 1794 under Warp

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Warping frame

[warpinge frame]

Randle Holme described a warping frame as 'an engine used by the silk weavers for the warping of the length of their Rubins and silk Laces' [Holme (2000)]. His illustration shows a similar device to a WARPING MILL. Both examples of warping frames in the Dictionary Archive may be found among the equipment of those weaving SILK. Each was listed in association with a RICE [Inventories (1588)]; [Inventories (1682)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1688

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Holme (2000).

Warping mill

[warping milne; warpeing mill]

An implement used by weavers for winding and ordering the WARP threads. It was a large rotating drum used to wind on and measure a known length of warp, which was then wound onto the warp beam and set in the LOOM. The warping miLl generally replaced the WARPING BAR, which performed the same purpose but was more laborious to use [Trowbridge Museum (online)]. In the Dictionary Archive, warping mills are largely found in East Anglia and only after 1660. They were normally associated with TRAVERS, as in 'A warping mill and travors' [Inventories (1692)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1825 under Warping

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Trowbridge Museum (online).

Warping pin

A term that has not been noted in the dictionaries. It appears only once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of a Devon weaver as 'one pare of warping pines w'th a Rigell' [Inventories (1646)]. RIGELL is also a term not yet identified. The warping pin may be the same as the PIN described by Randle Holme among the 'Weaver's terms' as 'Winding of Pinns, is the winding of Yarn upon a Reed or Pinn' and 'Set the Pin, is to put it into the Trough or hold of the Shuttle' [Holme (2000)]. However, the addition of the descriptor 'warping' militates against this, and the context suggests rather that the warping pin was part of the equipment used in preparing the WARP before it is placed in the LOOM.

An early method of so doing was to have a series of pegs on the wall. The YARN was looped alternately over and under the pegs to accommodate the length required. Where the yarn crossed between the pegs called 'the lace', it was tied, so that the whole could be lifted off without too much tangle and made into a loose chain using chain stitch [Trowbridge Museum (online)]. The prepared warp was thus sometimes called a CHAIN as 'in Chaynes warped' [Inventories (1637)]. The problem with this interpretation is that more than two pegs or pins would have been needed and they would have been fixtures so should not have been listed at all.

The method of warping using pegs was replaced by one using the WARPING BAR, and later the WARPING MILL.

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of PAIR

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Washington (1749-99, 1981 ed.), Introduction, 4, Wilson (1973), 221, Trowbridge Museum.

Warping stage

An uncommon name for an implement used by weavers to prepare the WARP prior to placing it in the LOOM. Given that each of the two examples comes from East Anglia and that each was associated with a TRAVERS, this was probably an alternative name for a WARPING BAR or a WARPING MILL.

Not found in the OED online

Found located 'in the shoppe Chamber'

Sources: Inventories (early).

Warping stock


An implement used by weavers, probably to measure and order the YARN preparatory for placing it in the LOOM, but possibly it was the bar on which the warp was wound in the loom. The quotations in the OED are ambiguous, but the only example in the Dictionary Archive associated the 'warpstock' with the loom, rather than with other warping equipment [Inventories (1660)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1404 under Warping

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Warping tools

[warpinge tooles]

The equipment used in warping, in other words, in preparing the WARP ready to be put in the LOOM. The items included a WARPING BAR, a WARPING PIN, a WARPING TROUGH, a WARPING VAT and a sort of REEL similar to a SWIFT.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (early).

Warping trough

[warpeing trough]

Randle Holme described the 'Weaver's Warping Trough' as that in which the weaver 'puts his Clews of Yarn, when he runs them off for Warping; it is a long Box or Chest, with 19 Partitions in it, with 3 Standards or more, and two over-cross peecs, to which is fixed as many Rings as there is partitions, through which the Yarn runs' [Holme (2000)]. In fact, Holme's illustration shows a box with fourteen, not nineteen partitions, with a frame at the back to which were fitted a matching number of rings. From this it would seem to have provided one method of reeling off the correct length of WARP threads in batches or BEERs, prior to winding them onto a REEL like a SWIFT. His illustration is probably incorrect in another respect. An odd number of boxes and rings would mean they could be offset more easily so as not to tangle with each other.

In an earlier example in the Dictionary Archive the warping trough was associated with the LOOM [Inventories (1685)], and in the other with an unidentified implement called a 'Scarre' [Inventories (1705)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1688

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000).

Warping vat

A term that appears only once in the Dictionary Archive as '1 winding mill and warping vat' [Inventories (1720)]. The OED has both 'Warpfat' and 'Warping vat' and suggests both may be variant names for a WARPING TROUGH. Another possibility is that it was a name for vessel in which the SIZE was kept for soaking the skeins of WARP before they were placed on the WARPING BAR.

OED earliest date of use: c1000 under Warpfat and 14-- under Warping

Sources: Inventories (late).

Wash basin

[weshyng bason; weshyng bason; wasshynge bason; wash-hand bason; wash hand basin]

A BASIN suitable for personal washing, hence entries like 'Wash Hand Basins' [Inventories (1790)]. Although this basin had previously had some device on which to stand, hence the entry 'weshyng bason and the thyng that beres hym' [Inventories (1553)], such pieces of FURNITURE only became fashionable in the eighteenth century; hence entries like 'Mahogany Wash hand stand Bason &c.' valued at 7s 6d [Inventories (1799)], and those advertising house sales like 'a Mahogany Wash-hand Bason Stand' [Newspapers (1790)].

OED earliest date of use: 1812 as Wash-basin; 1759 for both the basin and stand under Wash hand

Found made of PEWTER
The stand for the wash basin: Found made of MAHOGANY

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

Wash leather

[w'sh leath'r; washt leather; wash-leather; washed lether; washe lether; wash'd leather; wash lether; wash leath'r]

Soft LEATHER, usually of split SHEEPSKIN, dressed to imitate chamois LEATHER

OED earliest date of use: 1681

Found in units of DOZEN

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

Washing tub

[washtubb; washing-tub; washing tubbe; washing tubb; washin tubb; wash tubb; wase tub]

Not to be confused with the MASH TUB, particularly in the form 'Mashing tub'. Under most circumstances, the washing tub, or wash tub was a domestic vessel 'such as Laundresses wash their Linens in'. Washing tubs, like almost other tubs were 'the Workmanship of the Cooper, or White Ware Cooper' [Holme (2000)]. All the examples in the Dictionary Archive appear to have been of this type. However, Randle Holme described a more complicated washing tub used by NEEDLE makers. It looked rather like a CHURN laid horizontally, with a spindle passing through its two ends so that the whole could be turned over and over. It was used to scour the needles [Holme (2000)].

OED earliest date of use: 1602 as Wash tub

Found described as LARGE, low, SMALL

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

Waste card

There is no entry in the OED and there is no obvious meaning of the term that springs to mind. Waste cards are found only in one entry in the Dictionary Archive, the large catalogue of Bettisons [Tradecards (1794)] where they are listed among the cards and are defined as LARGE or SMALL. Possibly they were pices of ephemeral card designed to be written on and then disposed of, similar to the MESSAGE CARD.

Sources: Tradecards.

Watch bill

[watchinge bill; watching byll; watching bill; wach bill]

A watchman's BILL or HALBERT

OED earliest date of use: 1665

Sources: Inventories (early).

Watch chain

[watch-chain; watch chaine; chaines for watches]

A CHAIN, usually made of metal (though some were of leather [for example, TRADECARDS LY1801WLF&], used as a WATCH guard. Watch chains could be an important piece of personal ornament and were therefore often both decorative and fashionable, like the 'half a Dozen mens' Bath-Metal Watch-Chains inlaid with Steel' [Newspapers (1760)]. Early watch chains were often made of SILVER to match the watch like the 'one smale watch with a silver Cover & Chaine' [Inventories (1646)]. However, since watches were particularly vulnerable to pick pockets and snatch thieves, watch chain were later rarely made of that soft metal, but more commonly of STEEL, hence the 'Men and Womens Steel Watch Chains' advertised in a Birmingham newspaper in 1780 [Newspapers (1780)]. Probably the 'double and single row'd Gentlemen's fine Steel and Cameo-beaded Chains' stolen from a steel TOY maker were intended for watches [Newspapers (1790)].

Usually attached to the chain were other small personal items such as the WATCH KEY and a SEAL; hence notices of theft like the one for 'a Silver Watch with a steel Chain put together with spring Rings, Steel Key and a Cornelian Seal' [Newspapers (1770)], or the 'Silver Watch with a Silver Seal filled with Pewter, with a Steel Chain' [Newspapers (1760)].

The making of watch chains was a specialist trade, for example the deserter Thomas Augworth of Wolverhampton was a 'Watch-Chain-maker' [Newspapers (1742)]. They were one of the items picked out by a foreign visitor as manufactured at Matthew Boulton's Soho works [Diaries (Lichtenberg)]. Interest in improving manufacture is noticeable; hence the 'Pair of new invented Hand Rolls for making Watch Chains' advertised in 1780 [Newspapers (1780)], and the patent for 'making ... watch chain, or any other chain' the links of which 'can be lengthened or shortened by adding or taking away such links without cutting or breaking them' [Patents (1791)].

OED earliest date of use: 1712 under Chain

Found described as with DOUBLE, imperial, knobs, MEN, PLAIN, 3 row, WOMEN Found made of BATH METAL, IRON WIRE, SILVER, STEEL, STEEL WIRE
Found in units of DOZEN

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