The tierce (also terse) is both an archaic volume unit of measure of goods and the name of the cask of that size.The most common definitions are either one-third of a pipe or forty-two gallons. In the petroleum industry - a barrel of oil is defined as 42 US gallons.
The casks were roughly 20.5 inches across and were built to hold either liquids (wet cooperage) or dry goods (dry cooperage).Contents ranged from sugar to rum to salted beef and fish.
The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of the term in this sense as occurring in 1531. In 1630, Ben Jonson, then the Poet Laureate of England, petitioned that the salary of the position be raised. His wish was granted, and in addition he and his successors received a tierce of wine from the Canary Islands, a tradition that continued until Henry James Pye became Laureate in 1790.As opposed to several other units of measure such as the pipe, cark and frail, the definition of the tierce remained stable with similar entries found in dictionaries from 1658 through 1780. By 1847, the introduction of steam technology allowed a 25-person manufacturing plant to make 15,000 tierce casks per year.
By 1899, proponents of the metric system could say that the tierce was one of many "marked curiosities and barbarisms" in America,and by 1917 even opponents of the metric system were calling this and similar measures obsolete: "Nobody hears nowadays of the coomb, the pottle, the chaldron, the palm or the barleycorn. The perch, the puncheon, the span, the tierce and the toise are all but forgotten. Even the furlong, the gill and the rod are disappearing."
Robert E. Hardwicke asked the question in his The Oilman's Barrel:why is oil measured in 42-gallon barrels? One hypothesis was that early oil drilling in Pennsylvania used tierce whiskey barrels for storage, and the standard developed from there. Ultimately, he was unable to find adequate support for the hypothesis.
Museum curator Mark Staniforth participated in the salvage operation of the 250-ton brig William Salthouse that was wrecked in 1841 near Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia. He made a detailed study of the recovered casks, noting that many of them did not meet legal standards for quality. His work provided empirical evidence of how tierce casks were actually constructed.
The gallon is a unit of measurement for volume and fluid capacity in both the US customary units and the British imperial systems of measurement. Three significantly different sizes are in current use:
A hogshead is a large cask of liquid. More specifically, it refers to a specified volume, measured in either imperial or US customary measures, primarily applied to alcoholic beverages, such as wine, ale, or cider.
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of mass. Its original use as a measurement of volume has continued in the capacity of cargo ships and in terms such as the freight ton. Recent specialised uses include the ton as a measure of energy and for truck classification. It is also a colloquial term.
The tonne is a metric unit of mass equal to 1,000 kilograms. It is commonly referred to as a metric ton in the United States. It is equivalent to approximately 2,204.6 pounds, 1.102 short tons (US) or approximately 0.984 long tons (UK). The official SI unit is the megagram, a less common way to express the same mass.
United States customary units are a system of measurements commonly used in the United States since it was formalized in 1832. The United States customary system developed from English units which were in use in the British Empire before the U.S. became an independent country. The United Kingdom's system of measures was overhauled in 1824 to create the imperial system, changing the definitions of some of its units. Subsequently, while many U.S. units are essentially similar to their imperial counterparts, there are significant differences between the systems.
The quart is an English unit of volume equal to a quarter gallon. Three kinds of quarts are currently used: the liquid quart and dry quart of the US customary system and the imperial quart of the British imperial system. All are roughly equal to one liter. It is divided into two pints or four cups. Historically, the exact size of the quart has varied with the different values of gallons over time and in reference to different commodities.
A barrel is one of several units of volume applied in various contexts; there are dry barrels, fluid barrels, oil barrels, and so forth. For historical reasons the volumes of some barrel units are roughly double the volumes of others; volumes in common use range approximately from 100 to 200 litres. In many connections the term drum is used almost interchangeably with barrel.
A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical container with a bulging center, longer than it is wide. They are traditionally made of wooden staves and bound by wood or metal hoops. The word vat is often used for large containers for liquids, usually alcoholic beverages; a small barrel or cask, typically with capacity of not more than ten gallons, is known as a keg.
A drum is a cylindrical container used for shipping bulk cargo. Drums can be made of steel, dense paperboard, or plastics, and are generally used for the transportation and storage of liquids and powders. Drums are often certified for shipment of dangerous goods. Shipped goods must be matched with the make of drum necessary to comply with applicable regulations. Drums are also called barrels in common usage.
A cooper is a person trained to make wooden casks, barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, troughs and other similar containers from timber staves that were usually heated or steamed to make them pliable.
A keg is a small barrel.
The tun is an English unit of liquid volume, used for measuring wine, oil or honey. Typically a large vat or vessel, most often holding 252 wine gallons, but occasionally other sizes were also used.
The butt was an English measure of liquid volume equalling two hogsheads, being between 450 and 1060 litres by various historical definitions.
English units are the units of measurement used in England up to 1826, which evolved as a combination of the Anglo-Saxon and Roman systems of units. Various standards have applied to English units at different times, in different places, and for different applications.
Capacities of wine casks were formerly measured and standardised according to a specific system of English units. The various units were historically defined in terms of the wine gallon so varied according to the definition of the gallon until the adoption of the Queen Anne wine gallon in 1707. In the United Kingdom and its colonies the units were redefined with the introduction of the imperial system whilst the Queen Anne wine gallon was adopted as the standard US liquid gallon.
Capacities of brewery casks were formerly measured and standardised according to a specific system of English units. The system was originally based on the ale gallon of 282 cubic inches. In United Kingdom and its colonies, with the adoption of the imperial system in 1824, the units were redefined in terms of the slightly smaller imperial gallon. The older units continued in use in the United States.
William Salthouse was the first merchant vessel to sail with a cargo of merchandise from the British Dominion of Canada to British Colonies of Australia. The ship was lost on 28 November 1841 while attempting to enter Port Phillip Heads en route to Melbourne Harbor. The wreck of William Salthouse has been the site of several maritime archaeological investigations as well as experimental in situ conservation efforts.
The quarter is used as the name of several distinct English units based on ¼ sizes of some base unit.
A number of units of measurement were used in South Africa to measure quantities like length, mass, capacity, etc. The Imperial system of measurements was made standard in 1922 and the metric system was adopted in 1970.
The Exchequer Standards may refer to the set of official English standards for weights and measures created by Queen Elizabeth I, and in effect from 1588 to 1826, when the Imperial Units system took effect, or to the whole range of English unit standards maintained by the Court of the Exchequer from the 1200s, or to the physical reference standards physically kept at the Exchequer and used as the legal reference until the such responsibility was transferred in the 1860s, after the Imperial system had been established.