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Below is the entry for 23 May 1873 in the diary of my 3rd great grandfather Thomas Hitchcox which was written at Fullarton, South Australia. Thomas had emigrated from Staffordshire, England in 1854 (at age 57) where he had been a school master (at least 1821-1827), maltster and farmer.

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Most of it is very easy to read but there are two words that I am uncertain of the spelling/meaning.

Weather showery
Wark finished the
Shed and ???? ????
on the old Stable
and hung Froggatts'
new Gate

The words replaced by question marks above seem to be pitt Zink but if that is their spelling then what is their meaning?

I suspect it may be something to do with putting zinc on a roof, as some sort of early galvanized iron, but would like to be more certain.

  • As I always say that we need more examples of how he wrote the letters. My idea is that he always write i as i with dot. In pitt it is pecular that there is no dot on top of i letter, so guess is very weak. Also 'The' is written from capital letter. Could it be archaic "Thu" instead of "the"? – George Gaál Jul 17 '17 at 13:30
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    Best guess is that the u in put had a wobble in the right hand vertical, so it was intended to read "put zinc on the old stable". Except.... That's a heck of a lot of metal! Is there some paint / preparation it could be? – AdrianB38 Jul 17 '17 at 13:51
  • Corrugated iron?? – AdrianB38 Jul 17 '17 at 13:52
  • @AdrianB38 you are almost right, because I checked and really "putt" is archaic form of "put"!!!! – George Gaál Jul 17 '17 at 14:34
  • Put zinc is what I see. I think your discussions on this question have led you to the answer. – Canadian Girl Scout Sep 4 '17 at 6:07
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Corrugated iron is galvanized, and galvanising is effectively coating with zinc. See Wikipedia So corrugated iron roofing material sounds like a good bet.

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The spelling of Zink for Zinc has been followed up on at the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange as Was Zink ever valid spelling for Zinc? where the earliest known spelling of Zinc is from 1813.

With Thomas (born 1797) presumably going to school before that, and becoming a school master less than 10 years after 1813 (certainly by 1821, and finishing in or soon after 1827) it seems unsurprising that he continued spelling it Zink which was probably what he was taught and what he taught.

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    Interesting - I had simply assumed it to be an "error", rather than a "valid" alternative spelling. Much more interesting now! – AdrianB38 Jul 18 '17 at 9:44

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