CAPILLAIRE, SPIRIT COLOUR & FLAGONS

 

The vast majority of sugar houses, big or small, early or late, refined raw sugar in order to produce sugar for sale in the forms of loaves, lumps, ground, granulated, cubes, etc, as well as dark treacles and golden syrups, and of course molasses. There were just a few however, 1790s to 1890s, that concentrated on the production of capillaire and spirit colour, both light syrups, but for very different purposes. These refiners often styled themselves as "Liquid Refined Sugar Makers".

Capillaire was a water-clear syrup originally flavoured with dried maidenhair fern though later with orange-flower water, much used by confectioners as a flavouring, and also as a cordial.(1) In the theatre advertisements on the front of The Times the sale of capillaire as a refreshment was often mentioned.
(For an idea of the liquid refined sugars produced today, take a look at the Sugar Australia website.)

Spirit colour was developed as a colouring for rum ... a boiled dark muscovado sugar with a small amount of rum added was produced, and about 3 pints would colour 100 gallons of spirit.(2)
(The website regarding Caramel Colors gives us an insight into how this trade has developed more recently with our greater 'need' for food and drink colourings.)

1. 'Sugar - A Handbook for Planters & Refiners' by Lock & Newlands Bros, pub Spon 1888 - pp593.
2. 'Sugar - A Handbook for Planters & Refiners' by Lock & Newlands Bros, pub Spon 1888 - pp789.

 

 

 

The refiners supplied the liquid sugar in stoneware flagons, the name stamps of some (**) are shown below, followed by the full details of surviving flagons.

For family details of six of these flagons, see the 'History of Six Flagons'.

Those found to be involved in this trade ...
LONDON ...
    ANGELL, TC & TW - Surrey
    AYDEN, Alfred - Gloucester St, Queens Sq
    CHAPMAN, John - 83 Hatton Gdn
    GODDARD, GREAVES & COPE
    FRIEND, C - Wentworth St
    FULLER, R (+Ann) - 4 Webber Row, Blackfriars
    HILL, Adam - 258 High Holborn
    POWELL, John - 3 White's Row, Spitalfields
    POWELL, John (jun) - 3 White's Row, Spitalfields
    RAMSDEN, William & Hugh - 7 Brook St, Holborn
    RAMSDEN, Hugh - 7 Brook St, Holborn
** RAMSDEN, H & R - 7 Brook St, Holborn
** RAMSDEN, Richard & Son - 7 Brook St, Holborn
    ROBERTS, Rowland - 32 Percival St
    ROBERTS, Rowland - 3 Britannia Row, Islington
    SCHOTTLER, Augustus - 3 Princes St, Bishopsgate
    SCHWARTZ, Sebastian - 3 White's Row, Spitalfields
    SCHWARTZ, Andrew - 3 White's Row, Spitalfields
** SMITH, John - 50 Thames St
    SMITH & BROWN - 50 Thames St
    SMITH & Son - 50 Thames St
    SMITH, Charles - 50 Thames St
** SMITH, Charles - 203 Thames St
** SMITH & TYERS - 203 Thames St
** SMITH & TYERS - 14 Green St, Blackfriars Rd
    STAPLES, A F - 6 New Ct, Old Bailey
    STAPLES, A F & J - 6 New Ct, Old Bailey
    WALLIS, John - 37 Dartmouth St, Westminster
    WILBEAM, William - Surrey
LIVERPOOL ...
    MOLLENHAUER, J H - 47 Dale St, Liverpool
    MORTON, William - 76 Blundell St, Liverpool

 

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Date Refiner Number Capacity - gallons Height - inches Diameter - inches Weight empty - lb Weight full - lb # Maker
  c1810   John Smith, Brooks Wharf, Upper Thames St   152   4   17¾   11½   16   70   - [Sher]
  c1838   Charles Smith, 203 Upper Thames St   109   6   20   13   29   110 Fulham Stone Pottery [Stow]
  c1841   Smith & Tyers, 203 Upper Thames St   346   1   11¾   7½   7   20 Fulham Stone Pottery [Stow]
  c1850   Smith & Tyers, 203 Upper Thames St   2126   2   14¾   9¼   13   40 Fulham Stone Pottery [Tet]
  c1858   Smith & Tyers, Green St, Blackfriars Rd   3269   6   21   12½   29   110   - [Mat]
  c1880   Smith & Tyers, Green St, Blackfriars Rd   6468   2   15¼   9   13   40 T.Smith, Canal Potteries, Old Kent Rd [Mat]
  c1820   H&R Ramsden   -   4   17¼   12½   22   90   - [LMel]
  c1830   H & R R   -   4   18   12½   22   90   - [Bic]
  c1830   H & R Ramsden   -   2   14   9½   13   40   - [Bic]
  c1840   Ramsden & Son, Brook St, Holborn   -   6   20¾   13¼   29   110   - [Harl]
# based upon the modern density of sugar solution at 68 brix.
 

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