English wine cask units

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This article is about historic units of volume measurement for wine in England until 1824 and later under the imperial and US customary systems. For beer and ale units of the same, see English brewery cask units.

Capacities of wine casks were formerly measured and standardised according to a specific system of English units. The various units were historically defined in terms of the wine gallon so varied according to the definition of the gallon until the adoption of the Queen Anne wine gallon in 1707. In the United Kingdom and its colonies the units were redefined with the introduction of the imperial system whilst the Queen Anne wine gallon was adopted as the standard US liquid gallon. The major wine producing countries use barrels extensively and have developed standards at variance with the traditional English volumes (e.g. a hogshead of 300 L or 66 imp gal or 79 US gal, a barrique of 220 L or 48 imp gal or 58 US gal (Bordeaux), 225 L or 49 imp gal or 59 US gal (Australia) of 230 L or 51 imp gal or 61 US gal (Burgundy) and a puncheon of 465 L or 102 imp gal or 123 US gal).[1] are commonly used in the wine and wine cooperage industries.

Units[edit]

Seven barrels, each of a different size.
Tun

The tun (Old English: tunne, Latin: tunellus, Middle Latin: tunna) is an English unit of liquid volume (not weight), used for measuring wine, oil or honey. Typically a large vat or vessel, most often holding 252 wine gallons, but occasionally other sizes (e.g. 256, 240 and 208 gal) were also used.[2]

In one example from 1507, a tun is defined as 240 gallons.

Early Modern English: "He that ys a gawner owght to understonde there ys in a tunne lx systerns and every systern ys iiii galons be yt wyne or oylle."
Translation: "He that is a gauger ought to understand that there is in a tunne 60 sesters, and every sester is 4 gallons, be it wine or oil."

Untitled manuscript, consisting of a list of various customs duties, dated 15 July 1507[2][3][4]

Pipe or butt

The butt (from the mediæval French and Italian botte) or pipe was half a tun. Tradition has it that George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV of England, was drowned in a butt of malmsey on 18 February 1478.[5][6] In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Cask of Amontillado", the narrator claims he has received "a pipe of what passes for Amontillado".

Puncheon or tertian

The puncheon was a third of a tun. The term puncheon, shortened to pon in the United States, is thought to derive from the fact that it would have been marked by use of a punch to denote its contents. The unit was also known as a tertian (from the Latin word for "third").[2]

Hogshead
Main article: Hogshead

Of comparable size to the beer hogshead, the wine hogshead was equal to half a butt or a quarter of a tun.

Tierce
Main article: Tierce (unit)

Closely related to the modern oil barrel, the tierce was half a puncheon, a third of a butt or a sixth of a tun.

Barrel

The wine barrel was half a wine hogshead or an eighth of a tun.

Rundlet

The rundlet was a seventh of a butt or a fourteenth of a tun.

History[edit]

Originally, the tun was defined as 256 wine gallons;[nb 1] this is the basis for the name of the quarter of 64 corn gallons. At some time before the 15th century, it was reduced to 252 gallons, so as to be evenly divisible by other small integers, including seven.[nb 2] Note that a 252-gallon tun of wine has an approximate mass of one long ton.

With the adoption of the Queen Anne wine gallon of 231 cubic inches the tun approximated the volume of a cylinder with both diameter and height of 42 inches.[nb 3] These were adopted as the standard US liquid gallon and tun.

When the imperial system was introduced the tun was redefined in the UK and colonies as 210 imperial gallons. The imperial tun remained evenly divisible by small integers.[nb 4] There was also little change in the actual value the tun.[nb 5]

 
measure
tun
butt
puncheon
hogshead
tierce
barrel
rundlet
comparisons
tuns butts puncheons hogsheads tierces barrels rundlets
1    2    3    4    6    8    14   
12 1    1 12 2    3    4    7   
13 23 1    1 13 2    2 23 4 23
14 12 34 1    1 12 2    3 12
16 13 12 23 1    1 13 2 13
18 14 38 12 34 1    1 34
114 17 314 27 37 47 1   
historically
litres[nb 6]
950–960
475–480
316–320
237–240
158–160
118–120
 68– 69
imperial definitions
gallons litres[nb 7]
210     954.6789   
105    477.33945  
70    318.2263   
52 12 238.669725 
35    159.11315  
26 14 119.3348625
15    68.19135  
US definitions
gallons litres[nb 8]
252     953.923769568
126    476.961884784
84    317.974589856
63    238.480942392
42    158.987294928
31 12 118.29411825 
18    68.137412112

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 256=28
  2. ^ 252 = 22×32×7
  3. ^ The volume, V, of this cylinder may be approximated from the height, h, and the radius, r, as follows.
    V  = πr2h
    227×(21 in)2×42 in   since π ≈ 227
    = (22×32×7)×(3×7×11) cu in
    = 252×231 cu in
  4. ^ 210 = 2×3×5×7
  5. ^ The imperial tun is only about 0.0792% larger than the US tun assuming current definitions. Note that 5 imp gal ≈ 6 US gal.
  6. ^ The conversion to litres is approximate and given as a range to reflect the varying definitions of the gallon and the tun in terms of the gallon.
  7. ^ The conversion to litres is exact assuming the current 4.54609-litre definition of the imperial gallon.
  8. ^ The conversion to litres is exact assuming the current 25.4-millimetre definition of the international inch.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.apjohn.com.au/Upload/PrintPages/AP%20John_Technical_Specifications.pdf
  2. ^ a b c Zupko, Ronald E. (1985). "A Dictionary of Weights and Measures for the British Isles: The Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, Volume 168". Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society (American Philosophical Society) 168. ISBN 9780871691682. Quoting Gras (1918), p.706 
  3. ^ Gras, Norman S.B. (1918). Early English Customs Systems. Cambridge. p. 706. Quoting Forgon (1507) 
  4. ^ Forgon, T. (15 July 1507). Untitled manuscript, consisting of a list of various customs duties. Reproduced at sizes.com. 
  5. ^ Dukes of Great Britain
  6. ^ Biography Channel Duke of Clarence