Alnage, or aulnage (from Fr. "aune", ell) is the official supervision of the shape and quality of manufactured woollen cloth.

It was first ordered in the reign of Richard I that "woollen cloths, wherever they are made, shall be of the same width, to wit, of two ells within the lists, and of the same goodness in the middle and sides." This ordinance is usually known as the Assize of Measures or the Assize of Cloth. Article 35 of Magna Carta re-enacted the Assize of Cloth, and in the reign of Edward I an official called an "alnager" was appointed to enforce it. His duty was to measure each piece of cloth, and to affix a stamp to show that it was of the necessary size and quality.

As, however, the diversity of the wool and the importation of cloths of various sizes from abroad made it impossible to maintain any specific standard of width, the rules as to size were repealed in 1353. The increased growth of the woollen trade, and the introduction of new and lighter drapery in the reign of Elizabeth I, compelled a revision of the old standards. A statute was passed in 1665 creating the office of alnager of the new drapery, and defining the sizes to which cloth should be woven. The object of the statute was to prevent people being deceived by buying spurious woollen cloth, and to provide against fraud and imposition. Owing to the introduction of the alternative standard, a distinction arose between "broadcloth" (cloth of two yards) and "streit" or "strait" (narrow cloth of one yard). The meaning now attached to broadcloth, however, is merely that of material of superior quality. Alnage duties and the office of alnager were abolished in 1699.


* W. J. Ashley, "Economic History"
* W. Cunningham, "Growth of English Industry and Commerce"

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  • Alnage — Al nage ([a^]l n[asl]j), n., [OF. alnage, aulnage, F. aunage, fr. OF. alne ell, of Ger. origin: cf. OHG. elina, Goth. aleina, cubit. See {Ell}.] (O. Eng. Law) Measurement (of cloth) by the ell; also, a duty for such measurement. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Alnage — Al|nage [ ælnidʒ, ɔ:l...] das; s <aus gleichbed. engl. alnage> die früher übliche (amtliche Tuch)messung nach Ellen …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Alnage — See Aulnage …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • alnage — Ell measure; a duty on woolen cloth …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • alnage — noun ( s) Etymology: Middle English aulnage, from Middle French, from aulner to measure by the ell (from aulne ell, of Germanic origin, akin to Old High German elina ell) + age more at ell old English law : measurement of cloth by the ell… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ulnage — Ul nage, n. [See {Ulna}, and cf. {Alnage}.] (Old Eng. Law) Measurement by the ell; alnage. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Textile manufacturing terminology — The manufacture of textiles is one of the oldest of human technologies. In order to make textiles, the first requirement is a source of fibre from which a yarn can be made, primarily by spinning. (Both fibre and fiber are used in this article.)… …   Wikipedia

  • Glossary of textile manufacturing — For terms specifically related to sewing, see Glossary of sewing terms. For terms specifically related to dyeing, see Glossary of dyeing terms. The manufacture of textiles is one of the oldest of human technologies. To make textiles, the first… …   Wikipedia

  • Alnager — Al na*ger, n. [See {Alnage}.] A measure by the ell; formerly a sworn officer in England, whose duty was to inspect and measure woolen cloth, and fix upon it a seal. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aulnage — Aul nage, Aulnager Aul na*ger, n. See {Alnage} and {Alnager}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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