solive [French]

In France, at least as early as the 16th century – 19th century, a unit of volume used to describe a quantity of sawn lumber, similar in concept to the board foot. Also called a pièce. It = 3 cubic pied = ⅛ somme (about 0.10283 stere). Upon metrication (by the law of 13 brumaire an IX) the solive was made = ¹⁄₁₀ of a stere.

The solive was divided into 6 pieds de solive, the pied de solive into 12 pouces de solive, the pouce de solive into 12 lignes de solive; all of these were measures of volume. So 1 solive = 6 pieds de solive = 72 pouces de solive = 144 lignes de solive.

Alternatively, in Normandy the solive was divided into 432 chevilles, each of 12 cubic pouce.

Of course the volume of a board can be found by multiplying the dimensions in pouce and dividing the result by 11664, the number of cubic pouces in 3 cubic pieds. Doursther describes how workers actually did it: Imagine a board 12 pied long, 9 pouce wide and 9 pouce thick. Multiply the pied by the pouce, divide the result by 6, and divide that result by 72. 12 × 9 × 9 = 972; a sixtieth of that number is 162. Divide by 72, and the result is 2 with a remainder of 18, which is in pouce de solive, so the board is 2 solive, 18 pouce de solive.

One hundred solive were called a grand cent.

Doursther, 1840. Page 501.

sources

1

Bien que le mètre cube soit l'unité de vente légale, on entend souvent prononcer le mot de solive. C'était, en effet, la mesure la plus employée avant l'invention du système métrique; son nom a donné naissance aux expressions soliver et solivage, qui sont encore les synonymes de cuber et cubage.

La solive était, au moins dans l'Ile-de-France, un prisme de deux toises (12 pieds) de long et six pouces (½ pied) d'équarrissage. Son volume était, par conséquent, de trois pieds cubes. Mais ce volume variait suivant les régions, non seulement parce qu'elle pouvait avoir pour dimensions des nombres différents de pieds et de pouces, mais encore parce que les valeurs du pied et du pouce étaient variables. Calculée avec les dimensions des mesures dites d'ordonnance, elle cubait 0mc,1028; la solive nouvelle n'est autre chose que le dixième du mètre cube ou 100 décimètres cubes. La différence entre ces deux unités est donc de 3 p. 100, environ, au profit de la solive ancienne. Celle-ci se subdivisait en six pieds de solive; le pied de solive en douze pouces et le pouce en douze lignes de solive.

Though certainly the cubic meter is the legal unit for sale, one frequently hears the word “solive” spoken. It was, in effect. the measure most often employed prior to the invention of the metric system; its name has given birth to the expressions “soliver” and “solivage”, now synonyms for cubing and cubic content.

The solive was, at least in the Ile de France, a rectangular solid two toises (12 pieds) in length and 6 pouces (half a pied) square. Consequently its volume was 3 cubic pieds. But this volume varied by region, not only because they took for its dimensions different numbers of pieds and pouces, but also because the values of the pied and pouce were variables. Calculated with the dimensions of the units known as “d'ordonnance”, it occupies 0.1028 cubic meters; the new solive is nothing but one-tenth of a cubic meter or 100 cubic decimeters. The difference between the two units is about 3%, favoring the old solive. That is subdivided into 6 pieds de solive; the pied de solive into 12 pouces, and the pouce into 12 lignes de solive.

H. Nanquette.
Cours de Technologie Forestière.
Paris: Berger-Levrault et Cie, 1887.
Page 185.

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