A Victorian mahogany marble wash table with blue and white tiles. Circa 1860.
Mahogany is a close grained hardwood, native to northern and central South America and the West Indies. It varies in colour from dark brown to red, and sometimes has a spotted effect. As the girth of the tree is broad, furniture makers were able to use a single cut of wood for a table top. Furniture made from mahogany became very popular with cabinet-makers in Britain from the middle of the 18th century, followed by France and the rest of Europe. African mahogany, which is lighter in weight, was used from the 1800s onwards.