Glossary of mining and ore processing terms used in Devon and Cornwall

Mining Almanack, 1849 by H. English

Mining Almanack, 1849 by H. English

Do you know your Attle from your Pril? Did you know a Cornish ton was different to a regular imperial ton? Or that the ores raised from the mine were known as Work before they were dressed? No, neither did I.

That was until I got to work on the Mining Almanack for 1849. The Almanack was compiled by Henry English, Mining Engineer under the patronage of Prince Albert, then Duke of Cornwall and Lord Warden of the Stanneries.

Mining almanack, 1849

The almanack contains, as you would expect, an array of interesting data about the mining industry of the day, as well as more general content about related industries and even a directory of the current peers of the House of Lords.

The kind of information you can get from here include original articles/essays on topics such as the jurisdiction of the Stannary Courts, the Newcastle and Durham coalfields, the science of geology and innovation in the production of iron (as opposed to hemp) rope.

It contains statistical data on engine work, foreign weights and measures for assaying, weights of various items like metal and alloy pipes, tubes and wires, directories of useful contacts, general statistics, legislation and regulation, geological information, miscellanea such as the cost of materials for the Cornish mining industry, and the ever-diverting advertisements including for one for private contracts on mines e.g. Tywarnhaile Mines belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall, geological maps, patented wire and wire rope (iron), patented safety fuse, gutta-percha rubber bands, tubing, valves and buckets. 

Glossary of mining terms used in Devon and Cornwall, pp. 376-86

Sandwiched somewhere in the middle are the glossaries of mining terms given by region or country, including Spanish terms and French, German and Spanish smelting terms; but curiously, no smelting terms relating to copper, tin or lead smelting. In spite of the title, the glossary covers ore processing terms too although few, except the most general ones, pertain to smelting and refining.

However I was very grateful to swot up on contemporary definitions of Produce and the elusive Standard which has stretched my mathematical abilities during my research on ticketings.

Attle – Rubbish, refuse of the mine, containing little or no ore. Also known as Deads. Also known as Stuff. Also known as Trade.

Average produce – The quantity of fine copper contained in the several parcels of ore, raised from a mine, or sold at “ticketting.”

Average standard – The average standard, or rate, at which a parcel of ores, at ticketting or otherwise is sold. See Standard.

Blower – A smelter.

Buckers – Bruisers of the ore.

Buddling – Separating ores from the earthy substance by means of an inclined hutch or cistern.

Button – The result of an assay in fine copper.

Captain dresser – Superintendent of the dressing of the ores.

Cob – To break the ores with hammers in such a manner as to separate the dead or worthless parts.

Creases – Divisions of buddled work.

Crop – The best ore.

Crushing – Grinding the ores without water.

Cupelo – A small furnace.

Chats – Small heaps of ore.

Decrepitate – When a mineral exposed to heat flies with a crackling noise.

Dileuing, or Terluing – Washing ores supported on a hair-bottomed sieve in water.

Dish – That portion of the produce of a mine which is paid to the landowner or lord, as rent or royalty usually ranging from 1/12 to 1/24.

Dredge or dredging ore – A stone impregnated, or traversed by minute veins or strings of ore.

Dressers – Cleaners of ore.

Furnace – The place in which the ore is placed for the purpose of smelting or reduction.

Grate – Stamps grate; a metallic plate pierced with small holes; it is attached to the stamps, and through the holes the stamped ores escape.

Grinder – Machinery for crushing the ores between iron cylinders or barrels.

Gulph of ore – A very large deposit of ore in a lode.

Halvanner – The dresser of, or operator on, the halvans.

Halvans – The ores which are not sufficiently rich to be offered for sale until the impurities with which they are mixed is removed by dressing.

Jigger – Cleaner of the ores.

Jigging – Separating the ore with a griddle or wire-bottomed sieve, the heavier substance passing through the bottom or lower part of the sieve; the lighter substance remaining on the upper part are put by for halvans.

Leavings – The ores which are left after the “crop” is taken out.

Lode – See Vein – A regular vein producing or affording any kind of metal.

Loobs – Slime containing ore.

Parcel – A heap of ore dressed and ready for sale.

Pedn cairn – A bunch of ore at a distance from the lode.

Pril – A solid piece of virgin metal, or the button from an assay.

Produce – Fine copper contained in 100 parts of ore.

Rack – An inclined frame on which the ores and slimes are washed and separated.

Racking – Is a process of separating small ore from the earthy particles by means of an include wood frame; the impurities being washed off, and the ore, remaining near the head of the rack taken from thence, undergoes tossing.

Refining – Separating the ores.

Riddle or Griddle – A sieve.

Sett – A mine or number of mines taken upon lease.

Shaking – Washing the ores.

Skimpings – Skimmings of the lighter ores, etc., in the dressing process.

Slimes – Mud containing metallic ores; mud or earthy particles mixed with ore.

Smelting – Reducing ores by means of fire.

Spalling – The breaking up into small pieces, for the sake of easily separating  the ore from the rock, after which it undergoes the process of cobbing.

Stamps – Machinery for crushing the ores with the presence of water.

Standard – The regulation of the standard depends entirely on the price which fine copper bears in the market, rising and falling in the same proportion. Supposing the produce of a parcel of ore to be 10, and the price at which it was sold to the smelter be 8l. 18s., the standard of that parcel will be thus obtained: 10 tons of the ore will be required to yield one ton of fine copper–therefore, 8l. 18s. x 10 = 89s will be the value of the ore containing a ton of metal. The returning charge of 2l. 15s. must then be deducted, which in like manner multiplied by 10, gives 27l. 10s., this added to the former makes 116l. 10s., being the standard of that parcel. Low produce ore naturally brings a higher standard.

[Every school child’s nightmare!]

Ticketings – The weekly public sale of ores.

Ton – The ton varies in different districts; the common ton is 20 cwt. of 112lbs. or 2240lbs. In Cornwall, the mining ton is 21 cwt. of 112 lbs. or 2352lbs.

Tossing or Tozing – A process consisting in suspending ores by violent agitation in water, their subsidence being accelerated by packing – the lighter and worthless matter remains uppermost. Also known as Treloobing.

Trunking – Process of extracting ores from the slimes-subsequently the ores undergo the processes of racking and tossing.

Tummals – A great quantity; a heap.

Tuyere – The aperture through which the air of blast is introduced into the furnace.

Tying – Washing.

Van – To wash and cleanse a small portion of ore on a shovel.

Washing – The ore undergoes occasionally two or three washings; the first process being that of washing the slimes and earthy particles from the rougher and larger stones of ore.

Well – The lower part of the furnace into which the metal falls.

Work – Ores before they are cleansed or dressed.


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