[Ads-l] "Velvet Corks", antedated

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Thu Nov 26 14:40:26 UTC 2015

Sorry, George.  Something I submitted directly to the OED in 2005, but didn't copy to ADS-L:

Superfine Velvet Corks, and other European Goods, to be Sold by Mr. Thomas Moffat, at his Warehouse on the Dock, in Corn-Market, Boston.

Boston News-Letter, 1717 March 25, 2/2.

I am skeptical that "velvet cork" was a type of wine.  Rather, I suspect they were good quality corks, that would better keep out air and allow wine to be kept longer. 

Wine was imported to America in large containers, sold "by the range", "pipe", hogshead" (and perhaps by other measures I don't remember), and at least by some bottled at home.  

The 1740 probate inventory of one Bostonian I am particularly interested in includes "1 case of bottles," valued at 2 pounds 10 shillings (perhaps a month's wages for an ordinary laborer?) and another set of bottles whose quantity I can't decipher valued at 2 pounds.  And he was just a baker ... although he had so many chairs I've wondered whether he ran a tavern on the side. 

(There are no corks listed in his inventory, however.)


 From: George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 9:59 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] "Velvet Corks", antedated

            WINES Wholesale and Retail, to be Sold by Richard Curson, on
Potbakers-Hill, near the new Dutch Church; Also, Old Jamaica and Barbados
Rum, Brandy, Geneva, and Velvet Corks.
            N-Y Gazette & W Post-Boy, September 12, 1757, p. 3, col. 3 OED:
velvet-cork  n. (see quot. and cf. 3b
1883  P. L. Simmonds *Dict. Trade Products*  *Velvet cork*, the best kind
of cork bark, which is of a reddish colour.

It's likely that "velvet corks" here means a type of wine or an especially
high quality wine.  I've seen "long cork" used in one of these senses (not
sure which, though).  I don't see why Mr. Curson would be selling corks not
already in bottles.

You say, "who cares?"  I say, "the world has been waiting for this too


George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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