More On Oilcloth and Canvas.

Discussion in 'Primary Documentation' started by Le Loup, Dec 15, 2018.

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  1. Dec 15, 2018 #1

    Le Loup

    Le Loup

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  2. Dec 15, 2018 #2

    Ranger Boyd

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    Awesome. I have been after oilcloth references for several years now. Usage seems to be more prevalant among the French than British before the Rev War, judging by this sampling, at least. Would you agree, or have you found otherwise?
     
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  3. Dec 15, 2018 #3

    Black Hand

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    However, a Tarpaulin and an Oilcloth are different - the former was treated with tar and the latter with oil...

    A search of period publications on Google books turned up more than a couple of references for Oilcloths (of several different colors, including purple, blue, green, yellow, brown).
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
  4. Dec 15, 2018 #4

    Black Hand

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    I did this search several years ago and posted the information to this or another message-board. However, I did not keep the references in my files.
     
  5. Dec 15, 2018 #5

    Le Loup

    Le Loup

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    To be honest Ranger I have only focused on the availability & use, not nationality.
    Keith.
     
  6. Dec 15, 2018 #6

    Spence10

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    A few.

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    May 7, 1761
    Just imported in the Fanny, Captain Lane….green oil cloth umbrelloes, calimancoes,

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    July 25, 1765
    RUN away….a Felt Hat, covered with an Oil Cloth

    Pennsylvania Gazette
    August 2, 1775
    TO BE SOLD …. MOROCCO Leather, Oil Cloth, and Silk Umbrelloes

    THE SOUTH-CAROLINA GAZETTE
    July 15, 1751
    CHARLES-TOWN
    Just imported ….men’s oil cloth great coats very proper and useful in this climate,

    The South-Carolina GAZETTE
    February 16, 1767
    CHARLES-TOWN
    ….yard and ell-wide common oil-cloth umbrelloes, patent oil cloth, very neat green and pink silk ditto, patent oil cloth hat covers, ditto capuchines,

    THE VIRGINIA GAZETTE 2
    April 26, 1770
    To be SOLD for the first cost.... AN elegant new POST CHARIOT, and harness for four horses, to drive with postillions, painted in the newest taste, French grey, the mouldings carved, roped, jagged, and gilt, lined with green Morocco leather, a large trunk to fit behind, with an oil cloth cover,

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    April 14, 1757
    NEW YORK, April 11.
    Extract of another Letter from Albany, April 2, 1757:
    "Every Man in the French Army that came against Fort William Henry, was equipped in the following Manner, viz. With 2 Pair of Indian Shoes, 2 Pair of Stockings, one Pair of Spatterdashes, one Pair of Breeches, 2 Jackets, 1 large Over Coat, 2 Shirts, 2 Caps, 1 Hat, 1 Pair of Mittens, 1 Tomahawk, 2 Pocket Knives, 1 Scalping Knife, 1 Steel and Flint , every two Men an Axe, and every four a Kettle and Oil cloth for a Tent, with one Blanket and a Bearskin, and 12 Days Provisions of Pork and Bread; all which they drew on Hand Sleighs."

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    September 21, 1785
    RUN away....had on, when she went away, ...a callicoe cloak, lined with white flannel, and an oil cloth hat or bonnet.

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    August 31, 1774
    TO THE PUBLIC. THE STAGE, some time ago established, between the city of Philadelphia and Baltimore Town,... Our Waggons are covered with oil cloth

    Pennsylvania Gazette
    November 7, 1781
    PHILADELPHIA, November 7. Extract of a letter from General WASHINGTON, dated Head Quarters, near York, October 27, 1781.
    SIR,
    I DO myself the honour to enclose to your Excellency, copies of Returns of Prisoners, Artillery, Arms, Ordnance and other Stores, surrendered by the enemy in their posts of York and Gloucester on the 18th instant, which were not compleated at the time of my last dispatches, and but this moment handed to me:
    Signal rockets 36, tubes of sizes 6705, tube boxes 62, port fires 787, port fire stocks 28, lint stocks 16, lead aprons 90, steel spikes 80, powder horns 260, shell scrapers 8, kit brushes 5, hand bellows 2, sets for fuzes 7, kit ladles 6, fuse engines 2, cannon haversacks 30, powder bags 23, oil cloths 17, hair cloth 1, budge barrels 4, punches for cannon 12, large brass callibers 2, shot gauges 2 sets, elevating screws 2, priming wires 26

    Journal of Ennion Williams on his journey to the American camp at Cambridge in New England
    "October 4, 1775. Left Philadelphia in company with my brother and Mr. P. Lloyd, passed through Bristol, Trenton, &c., and arrived in the evening at Princeton in health tho' it rained all day; the oil cloth sleeves which cover arms and shoulders prevents the rain and I think every traveler who has occasion to ride in the rain will find it of great service."

    Spence
     
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  7. Dec 15, 2018 #7

    Le Loup

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    Yes I know, but the heading name is oilcloth & canvas. This is about fabrics being used for shelters & their availability.
    Keith.
     
  8. Dec 15, 2018 #8

    Le Loup

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    Excellent Spence! Thanks for sharing.
    Keith.
     
  9. Dec 15, 2018 #9

    Ranger Boyd

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    Fantastic! Great stuff guys, many thanks!
     
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  10. Dec 15, 2018 #10

    Black Hand

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  11. Dec 15, 2018 #11

    Straekat

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    OT perhaps, but a similar method of waterproofing is waxed cotton. When the wax or paraffin is applied it has to be done so the cloth is penetrated but without a surface accumulation that melts and bleeds in warm weather or stiffens and sticks in cold weather. If you can get a happy balance waxed cloth, it has it's uses for ground cloths, bags to keep specific contents dry, etc. Waxed cloth is not breathable, so it's best not used for clothing layers that would be close to the skin.

    I've made some items by melting wax in a large canning pot, submerging the item in the wax, and then using hot/scalding water rinses on the stove and/or washing machine. The process can be a real PITA however it can be dated to the 1790's.
     
  12. Dec 15, 2018 #12

    Black Hand

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    Interesting! Do you have the reference handy? I'd like to add it to my library.
     
  13. Dec 15, 2018 #13

    Straekat

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    BH,

    Hopefully this link works:

    https://www.britishmillerain.com/history/

    Most sources mention the use of waxed canvas with sails made for the clipper ships market, and I've encountered some saying it goes back -much- further. There is also a Wiki article and that may/may not be accurate. Anyone on the forum doing fur trade era would be on solid ground using this.

    Added:

    Here's a reference that gives some specifics including a name and dated to 1795:

    https://www.speedwear.co.uk/blogs/news/the-history-of-waxed-cotton

    Cotton, canvas and other materials would be good to use wax on. I'd suggest not using it on wool because it would mat and negate thermal properties of untreated woolens.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
  14. Dec 15, 2018 #14

    Straekat

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  15. Dec 15, 2018 #15

    Black Hand

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    Ok - that merely raises more questions. They are conflating wax and oil - admittedly similar in certain respects, but not the same. When we speak of waxing, we usually mean using something like beeswax or paraffin wax (which is derived from the refining of petroleum). Oils/greases are either liquid or semi-solid at room temperature, derived from animal or vegetable sources (even petroleum is ultimately vegetable-derived). Linseed oil has an interesting property where it polymerizes in the presence of oxygen & sunlight/heat - exploited in making of the original linoleum, oil paints and oilcloths. It appears that oiling cloth ultimately causes the plant fibers to deteriorate perhaps with the exception of using a polymerizing oil. Waxing doesn't appear to cause this deterioration, perhaps because waxes are more resistant to bacterial/fungal action.

    https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-wax-and-vs-oil/
    http://www.differencebetween.net/science/chemistry-science/difference-between-wax-and-oil/

    Not trying to be pedantic, but I am looking for clarity...
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
  16. Dec 15, 2018 #16

    Straekat

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    BH,

    Understood and I know where you are coming from. I agree, reading through several sources there is evidence of conflation between the two, and even wax and oil mixes used as a compounded application.

    The use of beeswax only does turn up though, however I don't think it was all that common and not the norm. I'd venture a guess that wax only applications were known, and possibly limited to very specific circumstances such as food related uses based on the sources provided by the last link I provided.

    Woodworking uses of wax are not the same as those for food or later cloth uses. That said, beeswax only finishes applied to otherwise smoothed but unstained and untreated treated wooden surfaces has been used for centuries. We do know that wax applications applied to leather shoes has been around for a long time and can be used to provide a polished surface and also provides a measure of water repellancy.

    Tempting as it is to speculate, I'll refrain and not go "there" since this is about what's actually known, not conjecture.<smile>
     
  17. Dec 15, 2018 #17

    Carbon 6

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    Paraffin wax wasn't discovered until the 1830's, In Germany. A byproduct of petroleum refining, it is important to note that in North America, the first oil well was drilled in 1858 by James Miller Williams in Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada. In the United States, the petroleum industry began in 1859 when Edwin Drake found oil near Titusville, Pennsylvania. The industry grew slowly in the 1800s, primarily producing kerosene for oil lamps. Until the 20th century the primary use of paraffin was in candle making. With the exception of beeswax, all other 18th century and early 19th century waxes have a melting point to low to be useful in coating fabric (in my opinion). The discovery of stearin (stearic acid by French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul in 1825 changed that, allowing the melting temperature of waxes to be raised (including paraffin). This allowed for better candles.
     

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