In the British colonies in North America, 17th century, a quantity of hides or furs. Lederer says a lap of deerskins was 20 skins.¹
The Oxford English Dictionary, 1st edition, citing a sentence from 1673 in the New Jersey archives (“In token whereof they presented about 20 deer skins, 2 @ 3 laps of Beaver, and 1 string of Wampum.”²) defines a lap as a bundle. It is curious that the only citation for the word, in this sense, is from colonial America. As the quotation does not support the idea that the lap was a defined quantity, we need to find more occurrences of the word in colonial documents.
1.Richard M. Lederer, Jr.
Colonial American English. A Glossary.
Essex, Connecticut: A Verbatim Book, 1985.
2. William A. Whitehead, editor.
Documents relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey. Volume 1. 1631-1687.
Newark (NJ): Printed at the Daily Journal Establishment, 1880.
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Last revised: 26 November 2011.