is probably one of the largest ‘families’ of hardwood, having many different varieties within its own species.
Mahogany has been used for centuries in ship building, house building, furniture making etc and is the core structure of just about every 19th century vanity box, dressing case or jewellery box. It became more of a Victorian trend to dress Mahogany with these decorative veneers, such as Rosewood, Kingwood, Burr Walnut and Coromandel, so that the actual Mahogany was almost hidden from view.
Mahogany itself is a rich reddish brown wood that can range from being plain in appearance to something that is so vibrant, figured and almost three dimensional in effect.
Although Mahogany was most often used in its solid form, it also provided some beautifully figured varieties of veneer like ‘Flame’ Mahogany and ‘Fiddleback’ Mahogany (named after its preferred use in the manufacture of fine musical instruments).
Cuban Mahogany was so sought after, that by the late 1850′s, this particular variety became all but extinct
(1751 - 1806) was an English cabinetmaker and one of the leading exponents of Neoclassicism. Sheraton gave his name to a style of furniture characterised by a feminine refinement of late Georgian styles and became the most powerful source of inspiration behind the furniture of the late 18th century. His four-part Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterers’ Drawing Book greatly influenced English and American design.
Sheraton was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker, but he became better known as an inventor, artist, mystic, and religious controversialist. Initially he wrote on theological subjects, describing himself as a “mechanic, one who never had the advantage of collegiate or academical education.” He settled in London c. 1790, and his trade card gave his address as Wardour Street, Soho.
Supporting himself mainly as an author, Sheraton wrote Drawing Book (1791), the first part of which is devoted to somewhat naive, verbose dissertations on perspective, architecture, and geometry and the second part, on which his reputation is certainly based, is filled with plates that are admirable in draftsmanship, form, and proportion.
In 1803 Sheraton, who had been ordained a Baptist minister in 1800, published his Cabinet Dictionary (with plates), containing An Explanation of All Terms Used in the Cabinet, Chair and Upholstery Branches with Dictionary for Varnishing, Polishing and Gilding.
Some of the designs in this work, venturing well into the Regency style, are markedly unconventional. That he was a fashionable cabinetmaker is remarkable, for he was poor, his home of necessity half shop. It cannot be presumed that he was the maker of those examples even closely resembling his plates.
Although Sheraton undoubtedly borrowed from other cabinetmakers, most of the plates in his early publications are supposedly his own designs. The term Sheraton has been recklessly bestowed upon vast quantities of late 18th-century painted and inlaid satinwood furniture, but, properly understood and used in a generic sense, Sheraton is an appropriate label recognizing a mastermind behind the period. The opinion that his lack of success was caused by his assertive character is hypothetical.