Sunday, October 16, 2011

A New Word Enters the American Lexicon

From the Covington Journal of October 19, 1861 comes this piece on a word that is still used today

"Shoddy" - Since the charges, so extensively circulated against a portion of our army clothing contractors, of making the soldiers uniforms of shoddy, the word has passed into general use, and has become a synonym for everything that is false. Logwood brandy, a counterfeit note, an untrue statement, a young man who deceives a girl with false promises - are all designated by the expressive term "shoddy." Though the term is applied to everything unreal, the article has an actual existence, and many persons are engaged in its manufacture. Woolen rags are $5 and $10 per ton for making shoddy cloth. Fine black scraps are worth $100 to $150 per ton. The shoddy manufacturer passes them through a rag machine, which tears the rag to wool and cleans it of dust. When reduced to soft wool, the shoddy is saturated with oil or milk and mixed with new wool in as large proportion as possible. White shoddy is used in blankets and light colored goods, and the dark description for coarse cloth, carpets &c. The shoddy is the product of soft woolens; but the hard or black cloths, when treated in a similar manner, produce "mungo," which is used extensively in superfine cloths, which have a finish that may deceive a good judge. It is used largely in felted fabrics. Shoddy in the cloth of a coat will soon rub out of the cloth and accumulate between it and the lining.

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