Mahogany Wood

Mahogany Wood

The characteristics of mahogany wood, Honduras, and Cuban mahogany.

Craftsman Style

¶ Mahogany has been the best wood that the world has produced for all purposes to which it has been applied, from ship building to the finest cabinet making. We say "has been" because the mahogany that is used now is not to be compared to that in use ten or fifteen years ago. It was first accidentally introduced into England from St. Domingo, and rose speedily and deservedly into popular favor, so much so, that for many years it was almost exclusively used throughout the civilized world for the finest cabinetware.

¶ Like American native pine, and in fact like all other kinds of wood, the farther north the mahogany grows the softer the grain becomes and the less valuable. The forests of St. Domingo produced what was wanted until all the wood on the seaboard was cut off; then all accessible places in the mountains were denuded of it, until St. Domingo mahogany is a rarity, and is only procured by immense labor in transportation from the valleys, over the mountains to the seaboard.

¶ It grows to a large size in Cuba and Honduras, but it is of a common quality. A very hard and fine wood is in great quantity in Mexico ; it is also found on the coast of Africa this last is familiarly kiiown as nigger wood by cabinet-makers. Thus the grain in beauty and the wood in quality graduates very hard wood in Africa, south side of St. Domingo softer, north side of St. Domingo is still softer, south side of Cuba is next, north side of Cuba is very soft and with that found in Honduras is called "bay wood".

¶ This is the sickly, yellow wood that is now called mahogany; it is scarcely deserving of the name ; we have frequently seen bureaus with the ends and front rails of a yellow color, not much different from varnished pine, and fine dark and rich colored wood on the drawer fronts. The dark rich wood is St. Domingo or south side of Cuba wood, the other is bay wood, which last is in fact but a degree removed from the Spanish cedar that is used all over the world for making cigar boxes; it is also a species of mahogany.

¶ The mutations of fashion are curious ; mahogany which was once the most favored of all woods for the finest cabinetware, is now in the United States used most exclusively by Eastern manufacturers of cheap furniture, for the Southern and West India markets. Occasionally we find a fine set of mahogany bedroom furniture, but there being no demand for it, it grows old in the maker's hands.

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