What will we do if we can’t get top-grade Genuine Mahogany? As a lumber importer and supplier, we’re being faced with that very question. The answer would be different if the reasons were different.
For instance, if the reasons for the diminished supply were entirely due to the health of Mahogany forests or only because lower grades were coming out of those forests, we would still buy and encourage customers to consider buying Genuine Mahogany. (After all, we’re completely behind what Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars is doing with Ebony market!)
However, that is not the reason, so that will not be our response. Of course, with this bad news we have to share, we offer a silver lining of hope, as well.
Because South American mills are basically being forced to saw for quantity instead of quality, much of the Genuine Mahogany they’re exporting is essentially unusable. Despite the long histories of many mills in sawing for quality, the involvement of NGOs mean new practices are being taught. Why? Their money comes with strings attached.
Even when NHLA grading standards are applied to the new Mahogany boards, the lumber often falls short of Select grade; instead, it’s #1 Common. The saddest part of this is that it’s completely unnecessary. As large as Mahogany trees are, they are perfectly capable of yielding high-grade boards
If only lower-grade Mahogany were potentially available, the situation would be quite different. However, politics and poor sawing practices are to blame, and we simply cannot support that kind of irresponsible treatment of these valuable trees. In the short run, these changes are leading to great waste; in the long run, they will lead to decreased interest in Genuine Mahogany.
The bad news, then, is that J. Gibson McIlvain will be backing away from this once-prized product, after centuries of steadily carrying an extensive inventory of Genuine Mahogany. (We still, however, have plenty in stock. We just won’t be buying more.)
The good news, however, is that there are many African species that boast many of the same qualities that top-grade Genuine Mahogany traditionally has. African Mahogany (Khaya), as well as Sapele, and Utile/Sipo are all fabulous alternatives that actually surpass Genuine Mahogany in their durability and ability to take fine moulded details. In addition, Africa has done a fantastic job of putting verification and certification schemes in place, which allow tracking the supply chains to ensure the legality and responsible harvesting practices.
For those long-time fans of Genuine Mahogany, we completely identify with your sadness over this news. At the same time, we invite you to educate yourself about the differences between South American and African Mahogany as well as other African species. We think you’ll be delightfully surprised at how comparable they are to our old favorite.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.