For Exotic Mahogany, a History of Violence and Deception: Echoes

In 1780, Benjamin Franklin commissioned a large mahogany box from a London craftsman. His instructions for this custom-made item, intended to house a delicate scientific instrument, were unusually precise. In particular, he urged that special care be taken in selecting the mahogany because, in his words, there was “a great deal of difference in woods that go under that name.” He desired the “finest grained that you can meet with.”

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