The North American Frontiersmen





Editor - Staff Writer

   Smoke Signals

                   Mar./Apr. '09



The more we research, the more we find unanswered questions. Once in a while I find some little gem that we have to think about and wonder why it took so long to find.

Here's a great resource of information that was sent to us with only reference to the Canadian History List and a young lady that works at one of their sites (no name) as supplying these terms, if and when we find the author we will give proper credit.


I am currently in search of the meaning of the following terms : Hudson Bay strouds (blue, green, white).

I have looked up the textile terms (though not all were listed) from list in "Textiles in America: 1650-1870" by Florence M. Montgomery (ISBN 0393017036). All page number references are to this book.

Romal handkerchiefs: page 333 ROMAL (rumal) "A handkerchief imported from India; a cover or decorative piece. Silk, cotton, and Serunge romals were prohibited in England at the end of the 17th century.

"... Benjamin Wister ordered the following romals from London in 1789: 40 pieces India cotton Romals, blue and white--if at or under 11/

Send double the Quantity 30 pieces do do do red mixt--if at or under 11/ Send 2/3rds more 10 pieces do do do large red Check'd 8 pieces best Red Silk Pullicat Romals 18 pieces Lungee narrow Stripd do in 16 a piece. Send none but red Striped.

"A pattern book containng a fascinating variety of 95 handkerchief swatches, mounted on paper watermarked "London 1787," is preserved in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. The samples range from sturdy checked linens
to delicate muslins, some with additions of silk and others entirely of silk. Although not identified by place of manufacture, the silk and cotton romals, lungis (Fig. D-87), pullicates, and lustring silk handkerchiefs were probably imported from India for the English market."

"Barnagore": not listed
"Britania": page 177 BRITANNIAS (bretagnes) "Linen fabric of plain weave made in Britanny during the 18th century. It was much favored for shirts because of its fine quality. ..." "Madrass": cotton cloth (in 1816, not 1999!): page 287 MADRAS "Goods exported from that part of India. In a "Providence Gazette" advertisement from February to April 1791, [India sales at the Store of E. H. Derby, Esq.,] in Salem are divided into Bengal and Madras goods. For the latter he lists the following: Ginghams, Blue Cotton Handkerchiefs Long Cloths of a superior Quality, suitable for Shirting Madras Patches, beautifully figured Camboys, or blue and white striped
Cottons Moreas, or plain white Cloths Madras Cambricks Ditto handkerchiefs with borders

Book Muslins, Ditton handkerchiefs, a great variety "In the 1830s and 1840s, "large, bright-coloured handkerchiefs, of silk warp and cotton woof, which were formerly exported from Madras, and much used by the
negroes in the West Indies as head-dresses" were know by the name of "Madras". More recently the name has been applied to bright checked and plaid cotton cloth imorted from India for men's jackets and trousers and
women's dresses and skirts. The dyes used were not entirely fast, causing this material to be called bleeding madras."


"A white woolen cloth used for bed covers, petticoats, and heavy outer garments. Some were twilled and some were plain weave. Postlethwayt [Postlethwayt, Malachy. "The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce
Translated", from the French of the Celebrated Monsieur Savory ... with "Large Additions". 2 vols. London: J.&P. Knapton, 1751-55] describes their ornamentation for bed covers: In order to adorn them, they work
stripes of blue or red wool at each end, and a crown at each corner; with this difference, however, that the stripes are worked in the loom; and the crowns are worked with the needle, after the blankets are finished, and before they are sent to the fuller."

"The important trade in woolens with the North American Indians and the exact colors and stripes demanded by them are specified in a 1714 letter from James Logan to Edward Hackett: ... 3rdly. Striped Blankets that are
white like other Blankets only towards the ends they have generally four broad Stripes as each 2 red and 2 blue or black ... they are sold by ye piece containing 15 blankets for about 3 lbs 10/. [Kidd, Kenneth E. "Cloth Trade and the Indians of the Northeast during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries." Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum Annual, 1961. p. 43: Letters are cited from the James Logan Papers in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in particular from Logan's letter book, 1712-15, with reference to woolens imported for trade with the Indians.]"

"An order dated November 28, 1805, from Hudson's Bay House, London, is indicative of the magnitude of blanket production:

"Your Proposals have been received and acceded to ... You will be pleased to send ... as early in March as possible, the whole Order to be delivered to our Packers on or before the 23rd of April next without
fail ... Please to observe wherever the Pieces are striped it means all thro' the Piece.

Blankettings: 4 Ps. Red striped 20 " Green do
39 " Red & Green do
12 " Red striped,
Broader, nearly as broad as two stripes of the above.

Duffels: 2 Ps. White 11 " White, Red & Blue Striped
11 " " " & Yellow do

1 Point 125 pairs
1-1/2 " 142 "
2 " 151 "
2-1/2 " 225 "
3 " 418 "
3-1/2 " 21 "
4 " 15 "
2-1/2 " 17 " striped Red
2-1/2 " 17 " " Blue
2-1/2 " 16 " " Blue, Red, &
(Plummer & Early*, p. 66)"


*Plummer, Alfred, and Richard E. Early. "The Blanket Makers, 1669-1969". London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969. Full references from the bibliography (which is found on pages 384 through 412) in the hopes that someone may come across one of the relevant books so we can mine them for even more information.

CALICO pages 184-185
"Cotton cloth of many grades and varieties first made in India and later in the West. Thomas Sheraton gives a broad definition in his "Encyclopedia", 1804-7: In commerce a sort of cloth resembling linens made of cotton. ... Calicoes are of different kinds, plain, printed, stained, dyed, chintz, muslins, and the like, all included under the
general denomination of "calicoes". ..." Thus, "furniture calico" is simply heavier-weight calico suitable for furnishings.

Nuns (Nuno) thread: my hypothesis is that Nun's thread is fine, strong linen thread suitable for lace-making (there are even varieties of lace that have been referred to as Nun's Lace) and also for sewing.

embossed serge; embossed blankets; embossed robes: EMBOSSING pages 231-235 [yet another large entry, with illustrations, so exerpts are in order]

"The term may refer to either (1) the process of impressing patterns on worsted cloth, particularly camlet, to imitate expensive silk damasks, or (2) printing colored patterns on white serge or flannel."

Hessing canvas: HESSIAN (hessen) page 258 "A coarse hempen cloth, the name is most probably indicative of its origin" (Beck). Hessian and forfars were two qualities of the commonest unbleached sheeting and principally used for packages (Perkins).

"Dutch Barras and Hessens Canvas" are listed under linen goods in the 1660 London Book of Rates (Beck). "Barris and Hessins" are specified in Willing and Shippens's 1730-34 ledger (p.141). In Joshua Rowland
Fisher's order of 1767 from Philidelphia, both brown and white, or unbleached and bleached, "Hessons" were listed with sailcloth, Russia sheeting, osnaburg, dowlas, and other coarse cloths.

None-so-pretties (a kind of gartering, but what did it *look* like?): NONE-SO-PRETTY page 310 - A term applied generally to tapes or ribbons. Willing and Shippen of Philadelphia ordered them by the gross in the 1730s, and Samuel Rowland Fisher recoreded in his 1767/68 journal "20 doz Nonso-prettys--no Greens nor Yellows." In Boston, "None-so-Pretty Tapes" were offered in 1771, as were, in the following year, "Blue & white, Red & white, Green & white Furniture checks with None-so-Prettys to match." In 1886 a Rhode Island store dating from the eighteenth century had an old box labeled "None-so-Prettys" that contained "rolls of strong brown linen braid about three-quarters of an inch wide, with little woven figures, white, red, or black dots or diamonds" (Earle, _Costume_, pp. 173-74). Perkins (1833) lists among bindings, "Blue Diamon, otherwise None-so-Pretty."

London garters; Scotch garters: GARTERING page 246 Tape or braid ties around the calf of the leg to support stockings. Similar to coach lace and furniture braids and tapes. In 1736 Mary Alexander of New York received from Peter Collinson in London twenty-one samples of woolen tapes, some mixed with linen or a little silk, woven in plain or twill weave in bright colors (see Pl. D-10 [this is a color

Bed lace; tinsel lace: not listed

Orris lace: ORRICE (orris) page 312 - A kind of heavy ribbon or gimp trimming, sometimes woven with gold and
silver, and used in the 17th and 18th centuries for trimming dresses and furnishings. The work later included "nearly every description of upholstery galloons," especially those used for saddle and coach trimmings (Beck). Willing and Shippen imported "Orrice and worst'd Raines" (horse reins?) in the 1730s.

Samples of mid-18th century brilliant red and green silk orrice in various widths, which the Lord Chamberlain purchased from Tempest Hey, silk-lace maker, are reversible silk ribbons with lozenge patterns in weft floats (Public Record Office LC9/267). ...

shoe binding: BINDING page 168 - A tape or braid. Perkins's 1833 _Treatise on Haberdashery and Hosiery_
lists: Binding, chintz--is used for binding white dimity and printed furnitures; and the following for binding bed-ticks and mattresses, viz. Blue striped, Do. Diamond, otherwise None-so-Pretty Common Quality, otherwise worsted binding Venetian--is a fine kind of worsted binding used as the binders of Venetian blinds. (see also QUALITY)

QUALITY page 330 - A binding tape made of worsted, silk, or cotton in several grades. In the nineteenth century, it was used especially for carpet binding. James Beekman's 1769 order to Bristol is typical: 26 gross fine worsted Quality at 6/6. Vizt. 6 black, 2 red, 1 pinck, 1 Scarlet, 4 browns, 1 yellow, 6 dark blue, 2 light blue, 2 Saxon green, 1 dark green 33 gross fine shoe quality at 4/9. Vizt. 8 black, 8 cloth blues, 1 light blue, 1 Saxon blue, 1 Saxon green, 1 yellow, 2 pinck, 1 Scarlet, 2 green, 8 dark sorted cloth colours [2:875.]








                                             Buck Conner 



Page 7



updated  03/10/2009   

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