Tierce (unit)

Last updated

The tierce (also terse) is both an archaic volume unit of measure of goods and the name of the cask of that size. [1] 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.

Barrel Hollow cylindrical container

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.

Petroleum industry activities linked to handling oil and gas products

The petroleum industry, also known as the oil industry or the oil patch, includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting, and marketing of petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline (petrol). Petroleum (oil) is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, synthetic fragrances, and plastics. The extreme monetary value of oil and its products has led to it being known as "black gold". The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream, and downstream.

Contents

Use

The casks were roughly 20.5 inches across and were built to hold either liquids (wet cooperage) or dry goods (dry cooperage). [2] Contents ranged from sugar to rum to salted beef and fish.

History

The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of the term in this sense as occurring in 1531. In 1630, Ben Jonson, the current 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. [3] 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. [4] By 1847, the introduction of steam technology allowed a 25-person manufacturing plant to make 15,000 tierce casks per year. [5]

<i>Oxford English Dictionary</i> Premier historical dictionary of the English language

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.

Ben Jonson Seventeenth Century English playwright, poet, and actor

Benjamin Jonson was an English playwright and poet, whose artistry exerted a lasting impact upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours. He is best known for the satirical plays Every Man in His Humour (1598), Volpone, or The Fox, The Alchemist (1610) and Bartholomew Fair (1614) and for his lyric and epigrammatic poetry. "He is generally regarded as the second most important English dramatist, after William Shakespeare, during the reign of James I."

Henry James Pye English Poet Laureate

Henry James Pye was an English poet, and Poet Laureate from 1790 until his death. He was the first poet laureate to receive a fixed salary of £270 instead of the historic tierce of Canary wine.

Obsolescence

By 1899, proponents of the metric system could say that the tierce was one of many "marked curiosities and barbarisms" in America, [6] 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." [7]

Metric system Decimal system of units of measurement

The metric system is an internationally recognised decimalised system of measurement. It is in widespread use, and where it is adopted, it is the only or most common system of weights and measures. It is now known as the International System of Units (SI). It is used to measure everyday things such as the mass of a sack of flour, the height of a person, the speed of a car, and the volume of fuel in its tank. It is also used in science, industry and trade.

Recent Research

Robert E. Hardwicke asked the question in his The Oilman's Barrel: [8] 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. [9]

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. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Gallon general topic for different units of volume called gallon

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:

Hogshead unit of volume

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. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.

Tonne Metric unit of mass

The tonne, commonly referred to as the metric ton in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, is a non-SI metric unit of mass equal to 1,000 kilograms or one megagram. It is equivalent to approximately 2,204.6 pounds, 1.102 short tons (US) or 0.984 long tons (UK). Although not part of the SI, the tonne is accepted for use with SI units and prefixes by the International Committee for Weights and Measures.

The quart is an English unit of volume equal to a quarter gallon. 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.Presently, three kinds of quarts remain in use: 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 metric litre.

Barrel (unit) unit of volume

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 usage range approximately from 100 to 200 litres. In many connections the term "drum" is used almost interchangeably with "barrel".

Drum (container) type of container

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.

Cooper (profession) Maker of staved vessels such as barrels

A cooper is a person trained to make wooden casks, barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, troughs and other staved containers from timber that was usually heated or steamed to make it pliable.

The rundlet is an archaic unit-like size of wine casks once used in Britain. It was equivalent to about 68 litres. It used to be defined as 18 wine gallons—one of several gallons then in use—before the adoption of the imperial system in 1824, afterwards it was 15 imperial gallons, which became the universal English base unit of volume in the British realm.

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 a measure of liquid volume equalling two hogsheads.

English units are the units of measurement that were 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.

Comparison of the imperial and US customary measurement systems

Both the imperial and United States customary systems of measurement derive from earlier English systems used in the Middle Ages, that were the result of a combination of the local Anglo-Saxon units inherited from German tribes and Roman units brought by William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

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 finally 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.

References

  1. Murray, James A. H. Murray; Bradley, Henry; Craigie, W. A.; et al., eds. (1991). The Compact Oxford English Dictionary (Second ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 2061.
  2. 1 2 Staniforth, Mark (1987). "The Casks from the Wreck of the "William Salthouse"". Australian Journal of Historical Archeology. 5: 21–28. JSTOR   29543180.
  3. Gray, William Forbes (1914). The Poets Laureate of England: Their History and their Odes. Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons. p. 29.
  4. "Eighteenth-Century English Dictionaries and the Enlightenment". The Yearbook of English Studies. Eighteenth-Century Lexis and Lexicography. 28: 8–9. 1998. JSTOR   3508753.
  5. Eisterhold, John A. (Winter 1973). "Savannah: Lumber Center of the South Atlantic". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. 57 (4): 531. JSTOR   40579943.
  6. "A New System of Weights and Measures". Biloxi Daily Herald. May 6, 1899. p. 6.
  7. Ingalls, Walter Renton (July 20, 1917). "Shall Great Britain and America Adopt the Metric System?". Journal of the Royal Society of Arts. 65 (3374): 609. JSTOR   41347389.
  8. Hardwicke, Robert E. (2012). The Oilman's Barrel. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN   0806143843.
  9. Editor (Summer 1981). "[Letters in response to] Over a Barrel". The Wilson Quarterly. 5 (3): 189–190. JSTOR   40256164.