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Mahogany is a reddish-brown tropical hardwood, with a straight grain. Mahogany wood is native to the Americas, and is particularly prevalent in Mexico.
Mahogany was particularly popular in the creation of fine antique furniture, especially in 18th and 19th Century Europe. This was partly due to its even, fine and straight grain, which is relatively free of patches of discolouration or uneven grain. Moreover, mahogany is a very durable material, which is easily carved and shaped into different items of furniture or decorative objects. The wood's beautiful reddish-brown colour gets darker over time, and looks especially attractive when polished.
All of these properties make mahogany an especially appealing material for crafting high quality furniture, such as cabinets and dining tables. In the 19th Century, trade in American mahogany reached a peak, as the demand for finely crafted mahogany pieces in Europe increased. While exact figures are not available, in 1875 Britain alone imported more than 80,000 tons of mahogany.
Today, mahogany remains highly prized as a material for crafting fine furniture. However, the relative rarity of many mahogany species - particularly those native to Brazil and Honduras, due to overharvesting - has led to a diminished use of the material. It is for these reasons that fine antique mahogany furniture is so highly sought after in today's world, desired both on account of its quality and rarity.
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