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burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:27 pm
by hsargent
I saw a burlap bag at the Hardware store. We then got into a discussion of the common name .... we found four among the Old people present

tow, toe, tode, and toad.

I'm betting on tow as in carry. Is this just poor Americans like baling wire?

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:36 pm
by hsargent
I forgot gunnysack. And I did a search on the web and found tow sack was a synonym for gunnysack.

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:39 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Tow-head=blond.
A yellow flax fiber....coarse linen.
Poke.

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 3:13 am
by Ken Greenwald
Harry and James, I’ve only used BURLAP BAG (raised in NYC), but I’m familiar with some of the others. I found a good discussion in the American Heritage Dictionary:

GUNNYSACK noun Chiefly Western U.S.: A bag or sack made of gunny. Also called regionally crocus sack, croker sack, tow bag, tow sack.

Regional Note: A large sack made from loosely woven, coarse material goes by a variety of names in regional American English. The most general term is burlap bag, known everywhere but used especially in the Northeast. In the Midwest and West the usual term is gunnysack, which ultimately comes from the Sanskrit word goni, meaning “jute or hemp fiber.” In the Upper South such a sack is called a tow sack, and in Eastern North Carolina, a tow bag. (The word tow is another synonym for fabric made from jute or hemp and probably derives from an Old English word for “spinning.”) In South Carolina and adjacent parts of Georgia, it is called a crocus sack, and in the Gulf states, a croker sack, both terms deriving from the word crocus. According to Craig M. Carver, who draws on the research of Walter S. Avis, “Crocus is a coarse, loosely woven material once worn by slaves and laborers and common in colonial New England. It probably took its name from the sacks in which crocus or saffron was shipped.” Though the term crocus sack virtually disappeared from New England by the end of the 19th century, it survives in the South.
___________________

Ken – March 15, 2007

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 4:56 am
by Wizard of Oz
.. Harry if you came Downunder you would have to ask for a hessian bag ..

WoZ of Aus 16/03/07

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:11 am
by Erik_Kowal
The material from which such a bag is made might also be called sackcloth.

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 12:07 pm
by gdwdwrkr
The crocus cloth I use is a very fine-grit abrasive cloth used on metal. I have not found the origins of the term. it looks like the abrasive is: A dark red powdered variety of iron oxide, Fe2O3, used as an abrasive for polishing

here is found a connection between the crocus-saffron-color and the cloth.

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 5:43 pm
by Shelley
gdwdwrkr, "here" looks like a really interesting site. Someone should ask tmc5a what menaings menas, though.
Although burlap is used for sacks and people have worn (and still wear) sackcloth, I'm pretty sure sackcloth is not necessarily the same as burlap. Burlap is really abrasive but some sackcloth used for flour, rice or cornmeal (for example) can be relatively soft and more closely woven. Requiring someone to wear burlap as daily garb would be cruel and inhuman and for slaves I guess that was the idea . . . Course, burlap comes in varying degrees of coarseness as well. I've worn many types of these fabrics: one might call me a bag lady!
In looking up "sackcloth" I see that it has been worn as a symbol of mourning or penitence as in "sackcloth and ashes".

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:00 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Shelley, I can only hope that your continuing good behaviour has now allowed your period of manifest penitence to expire. ;-)

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 1:22 am
by Ken Greenwald
James, I’m going to also post this separately since it seems like and interesting topic in itself.

CROCUS CLOTH, which looks very much like EMERY CLOTH – I haven’t seen or heard of it in years – is a very fine abrasive cloth that I occasionally used in my machinist days of yore. I can’t recall why I would have used it instead of EMERY CLOTH except that it may have come in a finer grit, but emery comes pretty fine also.

I never knew the origin of the names EMERY CLOTH/PAPER or CROCUS CLOTH, but I looked them up and here’s what I found:

EMERY [~ 1485]: A fine-grained mineral consisting typically of corundum mixed with magnetite or hematite, used powdered, crushed, or consolidated and because of its great hardness used for grinding and polishing. [from Middle English, from Old French emeri, emeril, from Late Latin smericulum, from Greek smyris, powdered emery. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)

EMERY CLOTH: Cloth (also sometimes paper) covered with emery-powder, to be used for polishing or cleaning metals, etc.(Oxford English Dictionary)

CROCUS: 1) A dark red powdered variety of natural iron oxide [[ferric oxide]], Fe2O3, used as an abrasive for polishing (American Heritage Dictionary). 2) The name is applied to the peroxide of iron obtained [[artificially]] by calcination of sulphate of iron, and used as a polishing powder. (Oxford English Dictionary)

CROCUS CLOTH: A very slightly abrasive cloth which contains the mineral ‘crocoite,’ lead chromate, PbCrO4. The mineral was named in French in 1838 by Berthier crocoise, from Greek krokoeis, saffron-colored, from krokos, saffron (crocus is another name for saffron, an orange-red condiment consisting of the dried orange-colored stigmas of Crocus sativus and used to color and flavor food); altered by Dana in 1844 to crocoisite, and in 1868 to crocoite (American Heritage Dictionary, Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary)

Note: From the above it appears that the composition of the substance on ‘crocus cloth’ may vary.
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<1858 “Navy Yard , Boston, June 16, 1858.— F. K. Sibley, Esq.—Dear Sir: Having given your EMERY CLOTH and CROCUS CLOTH a thorough trial, it gives use pleasure to inform you that I consider it the best article that I have seen.”—‘Scientific American’ New Series, Volume 1, Issue 4, 13 July, page 63>

<1861 “Fine flour of EMERY-CLOTH is the best article to clean the exterior of the barrel. / To clean the lock.Wipe every part with a moist rag, and then a dry one; if any part of the interior shows rust, put a drop of oil on the point or end of a piece of soft wood dipped in FLOUR OF EMERY; rub out the rust clean and wipe the surface dry; then rub every part with a slightly oiled rag. / To clean the mountings.—For the mountings, and all iron and steel parts, use fine FLOUR OF EMERY-CLOTH. For brass use rotten-stone moistened with vinegar, or water, and avoid oil or grease. Use a hard brush, or piece of soft pine, cedar, or CROCUS CLOTH.”—‘Rules for Dismounting the Rifle Musket, Model of 1855’ in ‘Military Dictionary’ by H. L. Scott, page 41>

<1875 “Town of Waltham Manufactures: EMORY and CROCUS CLOTH; Number of Establishments – 1; Capital invested – $1,000; Value of goods made and work done – $4,55o”—‘The Census of Massachusetts: 1875,’ page 107>

<1881 “(Advertisement) Proposals for Ordnance Stores and Supplies. . . quantities of stores and supplies of the following kinds as may be required during the fiscal year mentioned [[July 1881 to June 1882]], all to be the best quality and subject to inspection, viz: Lanterns, paulings, jacks, burlaps, cords, cotton, waste, hemp and manila rope, sewing silk, thread, twines, hay, corn-meal, bran, oil-meal, oats, straw, horseshoes, locks, nails, screws, spikes, copper and iron tacks, bridle and harness leather, lumber, shingles, lath, candles, coal, gasoline, burning oil, bath brick, brooms, CROCUS CLOTH, EMERY CLOTH, emery paper, soaps, sponge, tripoli, roofing, sheathing, and wrapping paper. Alcohol, glues, lard, neatsfoot, sperm, and linseed oils, paints, putty, turpentine, varnishes, tin cans, wheel grease, brushes, rasps, files, spirit levels, and gutta percha.”–‘New York Times,’ 8 June, page 6>

<1933 “Polish the inside of the holes and the tip of the stylus at least once per series, using the fine ‘CROCUS CLOTH’ which is obtainable at hardware stores.”—‘Science,’ ‘The Measurement of Steadiness: A New Apparatus and Results on Marksmanship,’ 5 New Series, Vol. 78, No. 2022, September, page 286>
(quotes from newspaper and magazine archives)

Notes:

1) In the 1881 quote, I think, but am not certain, that ‘paulings’ might refer to ‘tarpaulins’; ‘tripoli’ is a porous, lightweight, siliceous sedimentary rock used as an abrasive and a polish; ‘gutta percha’ is rubberlike gum made used as a dental cement, in the manufacture of golf balls, and for insulating electric wires, etc.

2) For the 1861 quote above ‘flour emery’ is discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica: “The emery after being broken up is carefully picked by hand, and then ground or stamped, and separated into grades by wire sieves. The higher grades are prepared by washing and eleutriation [[‘elutriation’: The process of elutriating; a decanting or racking off by means of water, as finer particles from heavier—Webster Dictionary, 1913]], the finest being known as "FLOUR EMERY."

(quotes were found in newspaper and magazine archives)
___________________

Ken – March 16, 2007

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:37 am
by gdwdwrkr
Gutta percha protects the wires of the Trans-Atlantic Cables!
I knew the man in charge of the maintenance of the Cables, and
when I mistakenly quipped about their obsolescence, he corrected
me with, "actually, they are the medium of choice, as the distance
is so much shorter and the wait for electromagnetic signals to reach
the satellites and return to Earth is very long in comparison."

Also, I was surprised when, the day after seeing antique picture frames made
of gutta percha being sold at auction, the dentist informed me that my root
canal would start with a packing of gutta percha.

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:46 am
by Ken Greenwald
James et al, The seemingly contradictory colors for saffron/crocus, yellowish versus orange-red, comes from the fact that those are two possible color stigmas that the crocus/saffron flower may have. So the sack is the natural pale yellowish color of the flax/jute/hemp of which it is made, and the polishing cloth is the orange-red of its mineral abrasives.
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Ken G – March 16, 2007

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:05 am
by gdwdwrkr
Shelley wrote: gdwdwrkr, "here" looks like a really interesting site. Someone should ask tmc5a what menaings menas, though.
Also, Shelley, I find fault with this opening statement on that site:
"Many of the terms used in the 18th- and 19th-century advertisements had different meanings than today's terms."
(Nice hyphen-use, though!)

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:45 am
by gdwdwrkr
Ken, how did the lowly crocus get so stigmatized?

burlap bag / tow sack / crocus sack / gunnysack

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 5:05 am
by Ken Greenwald
Jim, When something gets that stigmatized, it often croaks!
___________________

Ken - March 16, 2007