Mahogany is From the 1720s Mahogany became one of the most fashionable woods in furniture making. In 1721 the Naval Stores Act in England was passed which resulted in the removal of taxation on the import duty of mahogany, although as it was still expensive to import mahogany it was only used on the finest pieces. Imported from Jamacia, Cuba and Honduras, at its peak in 1788 more than 30,000 tons of mahogany were imported into England and Wales. The earliest to be imported was ‘spanish mahogany’ which was known for its striaght-grain and lack of figure; it was mostly used in carving. From 1750 the Cuban variety rose in popularity as it was highly figured and good for veneers. ‘Baywood’ which is another variation of mahogany from Honduras became fashionable and known for its light colour and weight and its used as drawer linings in better quality furniture. A strong, dense wood, mahogany varies in colour depending on its region but tends to range from medium brown to deep red-brown in colour with black specks of open grain.
Walnut is a softwood,walnut allowed for greater flexibility and more elaborate carving when it was introduced into furniture-making from c.1660 onwards; it became the wood of choice in both the William and Mary era (1689-1702) and during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14). Walnut was often used as a veneer whereby thin sheets of wood would be glued to the carcase surface in order to show off its striking figure.
Oak is In English furniture history, the Medieval era until c.1660 is commonly known as the ‘age of oak’. Oak furniture can be identified by its attractive grain and typically dates from this earlier period. An oak trunk is quartered and cut along the lines of the medullary rays in the wood which produces an open-grained silvery pattern that is always much lighter than the base colour. In later pieces oak was used for drawer linings on the best quality furniture.
Satinwood is easy to identify as it shimmers like satin especially when highly polished. Imported from the West Indies from 1760 and from the East Indies from 1780 both types are yellow and honey-coloured although the former gives off a stronger shine due to its clear close-grains. Satinwood is particularly associated with the Thomas Sheraton Period.
Rosewood- Rosewood rose in popularity during the Regency period. Imported from India and Brazil it is often used for veneers as it has strong contrasts of light and dark. Look for dark streaks that are almost inky blotches when trying to identify rosewood
KINGWOOD & TULIPWOOD
Kingwood & Tulipwood is Imported from Brazil, kingwood receives its name from the royal purple hue of its grain and was often used for veneers and in cross-banded borders in the late eighteenth century. Also from Brazil, tulipwood is used in veneers and was very fashionable during the Regency period
Boxwood is a whitish-yellow wood with no real figure, often used as inlay on satinwood, rosewood and mahogany.