Mahogany is a tropical wood which came from The New World—especially South America and the Caribbean islands. Its beautiful reddish appearance, often with a subtle sheen, has made it a prized material for prominent uses: furniture, paneling and flooring. The wood is easy to work and very durable, two more factors which have made mahogany popular for centuries.
As Europeans colonized the Americas, and the beautiful wood became known to Europeans, a brisk Trans-Pacific trade flourished, beginning in the 1500's. Over-harvesting (and illegal harvesting) has been an on-going problem, even to this day. The origin of the name is uncertain. One explanation posits that West Africans, enslaved in Jamaica, began calling the tree "m'oganwo" (a similar species in Africa). Spaniards called the plant "caoba" and the French called it "acajou."
The English jewelry box shown above, made in the 1870's or 1880's, exhibits all the handsome beauty of mahogany wood. Mother-of-pearl lozenges are inlaid in the top. Inside, some remnants of the original 19th Century paper still line the inner lid. And the lock still works (key provided). Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome box.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248