‘Mulberry’ Addendum

It seems even as long ago as AD 78 when Pliny published Naturalis Historia; bruscum was in extraordinarily high demand for furniture as noted by Evelyn:

“Acer (campestre) foliis lobatis obtusis emarginatis Lin. Sp. PI. 1497. Acer Campestre et minus. C. B. P. 431. The common maple.

This does not grow to such a large size as the Sycamore, though its timber is of greater value. We meet with high encomiums on this wood among the antients: Pliny gives us many ; and Virgil introduces Evander sitting on a Maple throne. The first-mentioned author highly commends the Maples growing in different parts of the world, and extols many of them for the remarkable finenefs of their grain : Indeed the finenefs of the grain ever governs the value of the wood. In former times, so mad were people in searching for the Bruscum of this tree, which often formed the exact representation of birds, beasts, &c. that they spared no expence in procuring it. When boards, big enough for tables, were found of this curious part of the wood, the extravagance of purchasers was incredible. We read of a table made of the Bruscum, which cost ten hundred thousand festerces[i], and of another that cost upwards of fifteen hundred thousand.” [ii]

[i] Introduced c. 211 BC, a silver sestertius was valued at two and a half asses.
[ii] Silva: or, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesty’s dominions, as it was delivered in The Royal society, on the 15th of October 1662, by John Evelyn, third edition, volume 1, York, 1801, p.183.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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