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Pilchards: a Cornish-Italian affair?

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Luca Lazzari View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25 October 2012 at 03:53

I really didn’t imagine that we’ve been getting our pilchards from Cornwall... I was just trying to understand the origin of the word “hogshead”, and my fiancé found out this info (from Wikipedia and Cornish Fishing Industry).

In the decade 1747-1756 the total number of pilchards dispatched from the four principal Cornish ports of Falmouth, Fowey, Penzance and St. Ives averaged 30,000 hogsheads annually (making a total of 900 million fish). Much greater catches were achieved in 1790 and 1796. The majority of the pilchard catch was exported to Italy.

...

Much remained unchanged in 1890, when tourists and artists began to 'discover' Cornwall. Thousands of hogsheads of pilchards were still being sent to Italy through the ports of Naples and Genoa, and indeed the Newlyn firm British Cured Pilchards was still in 1990 sending pilchards to Italy, though by road.”

Very interesting! But I still don’t know why a large cask is called hogshead... According to the Online Etymology Dictionary it’s “presumably on some perceived resemblance.” Really can’t figure out how a barrel could resemble the head of a hog...

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2012 at 05:19
Making it even more confusing, Luca, is that the volume of a hogshead varied, based on both commodity and location. That is, an English hogshead and an American one, used for the same purpose, were not always the same size.
 
Most general size of an American hogshead, in the 18th century, was, iirc, 62 gallons. Or maybe it was 68? Something of that nature.
 
Best source of word derivation info is the Oxford English Dictionary. Unfortunately I don't have access to one, so can't check for you. But I'd almost bet that "hogshead" has something to do with what it was used for, or how it was transported/stored, then with what it looked like. A hogshead is, after all, merely a large barrel.
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Luca Lazzari View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Luca Lazzari Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2012 at 05:25
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Making it even more confusing, Luca, is that the volume of a hogshead varied, based on both commodity and location. That is, an English hogshead and an American one, used for the same purpose, were not always the same size.
 
Most general size of an American hogshead, in the 18th century, was, iirc, 62 gallons. Or maybe it was 68? Something of that nature.
 
Best source of word derivation info is the Oxford English Dictionary. Unfortunately I don't have access to one, so can't check for you. But I'd almost bet that "hogshead" has something to do with what it was used for, or how it was transported/stored, then with what it looked like. A hogshead is, after all, merely a large barrel.

Thanks! I fear etyomology is obscure:

"The etymology of hogshead is uncertain. According to English philologist Walter William Skeat (1835-1912), the origin is to be found in the name for a cask or liquid measure appearing in various forms in several Teutonic languages, in Dutch oxhooft (modern okshoofd), Danish oxehoved, Old Swedish oxhufvod, etc. The word should therefore be "oxhead", "hogshead" being a mere corruption. It has been suggested that the name arose from the branding of such a measure with the head of an ox."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2012 at 05:37
OK, I reviewed some of my research.
 
A standard hogshead equaled 2 barrels. A standard barrel was 31.5 gallons. Thus, a hogshead was 63 gallons.
 
Now we get into strange territory. All these measurements are actually based on the British Winchester gallon, which is a dry measure of 268.75 cubic inches. As it turns out, two barrels is what it takes to fill a hog's head. Thus, hogshead.
 
 
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Luca Lazzari View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Luca Lazzari Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2012 at 07:28
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

OK, I reviewed some of my research.
 
A standard hogshead equaled 2 barrels. A standard barrel was 31.5 gallons. Thus, a hogshead was 63 gallons.
 
Now we get into strange territory. All these measurements are actually based on the British Winchester gallon, which is a dry measure of 268.75 cubic inches. As it turns out, two barrels is what it takes to fill a hog's head. Thus, hogshead.

I'm lost in translation... LOL

1 gallon = 268.75 cubic inches = 4.4 liters. 1 hogshead = 63 gallons = 277,2 liters Wacko

I say, what a head!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2012 at 08:50
Photo Courtesy: Public Domain 123Rf.
*** Hogshead Barrels.
                                                                 
 
Sardines.
 
 
Buonasera Luca,
 
Thanks for the very interesting thread. Firstly, Hogshead was the name of the imaginery Bar in the Harry Potter Films.
 
2ndly, according to the International Fish & Shellfish Encyclopedia in 9 Languages: English, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Basque, Galician, Catalan and German;  
 
SARDINES, are still called Sardinas, and were called Sardinas in all Latin Language speaking countries; and were caught in Sardinia waters, prior to the dates you had mentioned, and were found off the coast of Sardinia.
 
HOGSHEAD BARRELS and SARDINES, this is interesting and toying about the think tank; since oak barrels are used to age wine and perhaps, what ever you place in them, I would assume;  shall go through a FERMENTATION and / or Curing or Ageing Process if left in the barrels ...
 
Sardines can be salted and dried like Cod in Portugal and Spain. Sardines are still found off the coast of Sicilia & the southern Atlantic of Spain ( Cadiz ) and Portugal too. As a matter of fact, I had some fresh fried sardines, fresh fried bocarones ( fresh anchovies ) and fresh langostinos, large coral shrimp in Cadiz in 2011 at a typical Tapas Bar.  
 
Perhaps, like Cured, air dried Hams, and that might be why the nickname HOGSHEAD BARRELS & / or for merely their enormous size, which could contain uncountable sardines in their interiors. Hogshead might also be a place in the UK, however, I am uncertain as to where. I think Manchester.
 
 
 
 
 
Kindest, Margi.
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