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Nature's Currency: The Atlantic Mahogany Trade and the Commodification of Nature in the Eighteenth Century

Nature's Currency: The Atlantic Mahogany Trade and the Commodification of Nature in the... Nature's Currency The Atlantic Mahogany Trade and the Commodification of Nature in the Eighteenth Century JENNIFER L. ANDERSON New York University In 1867, George Henkels, a leading Philadelphia furniture maker, lamented to his customers that he could no longer supply them with the famed Santo Domingan mahogany. ``The best wood has been cut off,'' he explained, ``After the depletion of the wood on this island, Cuba mahogany [is] the best to be had.''1 Had Henkels traveled to either island, he would have seen countrysides dominated by fields of sugar cane and dotted with the ragged stumps of mahogany trees, many over nine feet tall. Mahogany once grew so abundantly that woodcutters sawed out only the most ornamental part of the tree, leaving the rest to decay. Henkels would surely have expressed dismay at the wasted value of these remnants. Keenly aware that his most important raw material neared extinction on a growing list of West Indian islands, Henkels already was scouting for other sources to fulfill the orders of his fashionable customers. Henkels's dilemma was the result of generations of wholesale woodcutting in the Caribbean that, while clearing the way for sugar production, led to the This article http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal University of Pennsylvania Press

Nature's Currency: The Atlantic Mahogany Trade and the Commodification of Nature in the Eighteenth Century

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 The McNeil Center for Early American Studies. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1559-0895
Publisher site
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Abstract

Nature's Currency The Atlantic Mahogany Trade and the Commodification of Nature in the Eighteenth Century JENNIFER L. ANDERSON New York University In 1867, George Henkels, a leading Philadelphia furniture maker, lamented to his customers that he could no longer supply them with the famed Santo Domingan mahogany. ``The best wood has been cut off,'' he explained, ``After the depletion of the wood on this island, Cuba mahogany [is] the best to be had.''1 Had Henkels traveled to either island, he would have seen countrysides dominated by fields of sugar cane and dotted with the ragged stumps of mahogany trees, many over nine feet tall. Mahogany once grew so abundantly that woodcutters sawed out only the most ornamental part of the tree, leaving the rest to decay. Henkels would surely have expressed dismay at the wasted value of these remnants. Keenly aware that his most important raw material neared extinction on a growing list of West Indian islands, Henkels already was scouting for other sources to fulfill the orders of his fashionable customers. Henkels's dilemma was the result of generations of wholesale woodcutting in the Caribbean that, while clearing the way for sugar production, led to the This article

Journal

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary JournalUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Oct 23, 2004

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