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( Article orginally published September 1963 )
Of the more than two dozen different kinds of woods used in Early American furniture, native cherry held high place. Its slightly reddish tinge made it a favorite substitute for mahogany, though it has a closer grain and is lighter than good mahogany. In 1834, The New York Cabinetmakers' Price Book listed cherry wood and mahogany at the same price; the cabinetmakers of the 1830s rated it second to walnut in their choice of woods, followed by mahogany, curly maple, and plain maple. Its popularity continued through the Victorian period.
In sections where cherry wood abounded, as in the southern mountain states, it was used extensively for country furniture as well as formal pieces. Its warmth and glow brightened cabin and mansion alike.
As in all early furniture, various factors play a part in determining values-rarity, design, condition and, most importantly, collector demand.