페이지 이미지

ogate trade in besides, 769 pi

to which has to be added household furniture and cabinet-ware, valued by the importers at £32,557; 769 pianofortes, of the declared value of £24,542; besides other items. This, then, forms the aggregate trade in which we are specially interested, quite exclusive of the large commercial trade in rough woods and furniture carried on by other European nations.

The foreign fancy and hard woods specifically enumerated in the official trade returns are very few, being only mahogany, rosewood, maple, satin, walnut, ebony, and cedar, besides a few such as box, barwood and camwood, brazilleto, &c., which are chiefly used for other purposes. There are, however, some very beautiful woods which, being scarce, are imported in but small quantities. · Oak, ash, elm, beech, birch, &c., are designated hard woodle ; whilst mahogany, rosewood, zebra, tulip, kingwood, satin, and other furniture woods, are usually sold under the denomination of fancy woods. From the most common description of pine to the finest variety of satin-wood or calamander, from mahogany to walnut, from wainscot to ebony-all are in some way or other made to do service in their respective places for the cabinet-maker.

The elements of beauty in wood may be considered as consisting in lustre, figure, and colour ; in the degree of which there are, however, numerous modifications as well as limitations.

The medullary plates contribute essentially to the character of ornamental woods, not only from being the secondary cause of the lustre of most of those woods that are remarkable for this quality, but likewise by their own inherent properties. In nearly all the coloured woods the colour of the medullary plates is much deeper than that of the fibres, sometimes varying even in kind, so that when viewed in different lights they present different colours. The plane or sycamore is remarkable for the size and distinctness of its medullary plates, these being of a rich chestnut brown, with a considerable lastre, while the fibres are nearly white and almost dull.

There is another source of variety in wood, both in figure and colour, depending on the comparison and contrast of one annual layer with another. Much irregularity takes place in this respect. But this very irregularity is a source of beauty, and is capable of being indefinitely varied by making the section more or less oblique to the axis of the tree. An alternation of colour not unfrequently accompanies these concentric rings, but is not indicative of any change of structure ; and when the colours are lively, well defined, and well contrasted, their effect is very agreeable : kingwood, tulip-wood, Amboyna wood, yew, lignum vitæ, and partridge-wood, are perhaps some of the most remarkable.

The three latter whether we regard hite to rich cho

This symmetrical distribution of colour passes by insensible degrees into the striped, the veined, and the mottled, of which walnut affords the best example among the more common woods; and spotted and veined ebony, rosewood, zebra wood, and Coromandel wood, among the more valuable ones. The three latter are particularly beautiful, especially the Coromandel wood, whether we regard the harmonious tone of its colours, passing from brownish white to rich chocolate, or nearly black, or the broad masses in which these are arranged, giving it more the appearance of brecciated marble than of wood.

One other variety in the figure of woods is the occurrence of eyes, zoned spots and small curls, of which the bird's-eye maple, amboyna wood, and the root or burr of the yew and the common maple are the most beautiful. The knobby tubercles that form on the root and trunk of the common elm, from repeatedly stripping off the side branches, afford a very beautiful wood called “curled elm.”

We will pass on now to notice the principal woods, giving prominence to Mahogany as being that most largely used.

In 1820, when the duty on mahogany was £11 17s. 6d. the ton, the imports were 16,005 tons ; in 1830 nearly the same, although the duty had been reduced in 1826 to £7 the ton. In 1850 the imports were 33,650 tons; and in 1861, 53,108 tons, valued at £569,000. Mahogany unquestionably occupies the highest rank in the scale of furniture woods; it has long continued in steadily increasing request for all kinds of cabinet work, ornaments in wood, and generally for all purposes to which timber is applied for interior decoration. A thousand pounds has frequently been given for a good log of mahogany --and few probably of the visitors at the International Exhibition gave a second glance at the huge squared log of mahogany, which was shown in the Haytian Court, worth many hundreds of pounds, or reflected upon what might be its ultimate destination when sawn or cut into veneers. The principal sources of supply for this wood are Belize, British Honduras, which fur. nishes one half, St. Domingo, Cuba, and Mexico.

Spanish mahogany imported from Cuba, Hayti, and other West India islands, is in smaller logs than the Honduras, seldom exceeding sixteen to twenty-four inches square, and from six to twelve feet long. The colour is paler, the lustre less, in consequence of the medullary plates being smaller and irregularly distributed; the grain is also finer than the Honduras, and the texture harder. Many of the more expensive woods are cut into thin strips, termed veneers, which are glued on to pine surfaces, or other common woods, and by this process nine-tenths of the wood are saved.

By the use of beautifully adapted circular saws, worked by machinery, veneers are often cut of the thickness of one-fortieth of an inch, a little thicker than the sheet of paper on which this is printed. By the largest saws, logs of mahogany, three feet square, can be cut up into unbroken sheets of veneer at the rate of about ten or twelve to the inch, and so beautifully smooth as to require scarcely any dressing. The longitudinal edges of the veneers are protected by a calico band glued on, to prevent them from splitting when removed. Walnut is cut, not in longitudinal sections like other veneers, but in thin spiral sheets from the circumference of the tree. That makes the thinnest veneer of the whole, but it is frequently defective.

Rosewood, obtained from Brazil, and walnut, from Belgium and Italy, are probably, next to mahogany, the most important furniture woods.

There is still great confusion as to the trees which furnish the South American rosewood. From the Portuguese name of Jacaranda, the scientific name of Jacaranda Brasiliana has been applied to it. There is, however, little doubt that several species of Triptolomca yield rosewood in the province of Bahia.

The demand for rosewood has lately fallen off; for while in 1854, 5,670 tons, of the value of £82,211, were imported, on the average of the three years ending 1861 the imports were only 2,000 tons.

Rosewood exhibits large elongated zones of black irregular lines on a reddish brown ground, of various tints and high lustre. The grain varies,-being frequently very coarse, but in selected specimens sufficiently fine for the best description of furniture. The dark colour in general is too predominant; but when this is not the case, and the lighter ground is disposed in larger masses than usual, the wood is considered very beautiful.

Some of the specimens of Maple wood from North America are very ornamental, especially those of the red-flowering maple (Acer rubrum), and the sugar maple (A. saccharinum).

It sometimes happens that in very old trees of the former species, the grain, instead of following a perpendicular direction, is undulated ; and this variety bears the name of "curled maple.” This singular arrangement, for which no cause has ever been assigned, is never witnessed in young trees, nor in the branches of such as exhibit it in the trunk. It is also less conspicuous at the centre than near the circumference. Trees offering this disposition are rare, and do not exist in the proportion of one to a hundred. The serpentine direction of the fibre, which renders them difficult to split and to work, produces, in the hands of a skilful mechanic, the most beautiful effects of light and shade. These effects are rendered more striking if, after smoothing the surface of the wood with a

double-ironed plane, it is rubbed with a little sulphuric acid, and then with linseed oil. On examining it attentively, the varying shades are found to be owing entirely to the inflection of the rays of light, and this is more sensibly perceived in viewing it in different directions by candle-light. . Before mahogany came into such general use, the wood of the red-flowering maple was largely employed in America for furniture; bedsteads are still made of it, which in richness and lustre excel the finest mahogany. Veneers of it are much used to inlay other woods in articles of cabinet work and for the finishing of ships' cabins. The red-flowering maple never produces the variety known as “bird's-eye maple,” that being confined exclusively to the sugar, or rock maple. The sugar maple exhibits two accidental forms in the arrangement of the fibre, of which cabinet-makers take advantage for making beautiful articles of furniture. The first consists in undulations like those of the red-flowering maple, and is likewise known as “curled maple ;" the second, which takes place only in old trees which are still sound, appears to arise from an inflection of the fibre from the circumference towards the centre, producing spots of half a line in diameter, sometimes contiguous, and sometimes several lines apart. The more numerous the spots, the more beautiful and the more esteemed is the wood. This variety is called “bird's-eye maple."

Maple is now imported in considerable quantities from New Brunswick, and fetches a high price; 413 tons, valued at £2,752, were received in 1861. The ancients held the maple in great esteem, and tables inlaid with curious portions of it, or formed entirely of its finely variegated wood, in some instances realized their weight in gold.

The principal portion of the Satin-wood that comes into commerce is brought from the West Indies, and is produced by Maba Guineensis, an ebenaceous tree in the Bahamas, Hayti, &c.

It is of a beautiful deep yellow colour, mixed more or less with orange and brown, and hence called, locally, “yellow wood ;" is remarkably close-grained, heavy, and durable. It is sometimes confounded with East Indian satin-wood, the produce of Chloroxylon Swietenia, a cedrelaceous tree. The latter possesses the richest colour, whilst the West Indian satin-wood has a higher and more variable lustre. In some instances the Indian wood is beautifully patterned or flowered, and is much used for picture-frames, rivalling bird's-eye maple. Indeed, satin-wood fetches a much higher price than maple. The Chinese are very partial to this wood, and receive quantities of it from Siam. We obtain some from Ceylon and Madras. VOL. II.-NO. VII,

2 B

ing work everal specind Ceylon from the ony, ods, theroduction of inet-maker.iospyros, and the

imoragod 3,200 The imports taken agaigners prefer have been

Our supplies of the dark blackwood, known as Ebony, to the extent of 1,500 tons, are imported chiefly from the west coast of Africa, Madagascar, India, and Ceylon. It is the duramen or heart-wood of several species of Diospyros, and is much used for inlaying work by cabinet-makers.

Previous to the introduction of mahogany, rosewood, and other exotic woods, that of the Walnut was held in higher estimation than that of any other European tree, and supplied their places in the manufacture of the most valuable and costly pieces of furniture, examples of which are still to be seen in houses of ancient date, whose beauty in grain, polish, and pattern, would bear comparison with any of the choicest woods of the present day. Indeed, of late years we have been returning to this taste; for while foreigners prefer mahogany for cabinet work, we have taken again to walnut for suites of furniture. The imports of walnut-wood have recently averaged 3,200 tons, or double the quantity of rosewood imported.

The name Cedar is given to several woods, but properly belongs to the almost incorruptible wood obtained from two species of Cedrus,-0. Deodara and C. Libani. This is the cedar spoken of in Scripture: “ The cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers : all was cedar; there was no stone seen.” -(1 Kings, vi. 18.)

The wood of the common Cedrelas is far less valuable. The cedar chiefly imported is Cedrela odorata, in logs, free from knots and straight-grained, from Cuba, Mexico, and Central America, in quantities varying from 3,000 to 5,000 tons yearly. Thirty years ago the consumption was less than half that quantity. The red or pencil cedar of Virginia (Juniperus Virginiana) is also imported, being serviceable for internal joiner's work. The rare beauty of the sideboard top of Australian cedar root in the New South Wales court of the late Exhibition attracted much attention.

Oak still retains its time-honoured place in Gothic furniture and libraries. Wainscot oak is imported in logs from the Baltic, for cutting into planks or slabs for furniture, or for panelling rooms.

Having noticed the principal woods imported in quantity, we may now incidentally glance briefly. at a few others deserving of mention. And here it may be remarked that nearly all the ornamental woods used are derived from tropical countries, although occasionally specimens of woods grown in temperate regions are characterized by considerable beauty. Thus the curled ash of Canada, from the beauty of the figure, if better known, would be much appreciated by our timber merchants, the pattern resembling the renowned Hungarian ash, a wood

a quantities veronsumption

of Virginia for internal

« 이전계속 »