One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Also with capital initials. The practice of restricting the quantity of coal sold by each of a group of collieries in any one year in order to keep coal prices artificially high. Now historical.
2Chiefly Australian. In extended use: a group or cartel of colliery owners, coal merchants, etc., responsible for establishing and enforcing such restrictions. Now historical.
Early 19th century (in an earlier sense). From coal + vend.
coal vend/ˈkəʊl ˌvɛnd/
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