bird’s-eye-maple furniture


Senior Member
Dear all,
this from the sketch 'As the Spirit Moves' (chapter 'TOO MUCH IS ENOUGH') by Dorothy Parker.

As for the community ouija boards, any time the research workers want to store them away in the spare bedrooms with the rest of the bird’s-eye-maple furniture it will be quite all right for me

I guess bird’s-eye-maple furniture means that furniture in the spare bedrooms is made of maple with the oval-like shapes in its wooden texture originated by the boughs. Is this correct?
  • RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    In earlier times, bird's eye maple veneer was considered a very fancy kind of furniture. However, Parker is showing her snobbish side by implying it is rather bourgeois.

    Indeed, the "eyes" were formed by the small branches or boughs that came out of the trunk when the tree was growing when it was young. One has to imagine this was pretty rare since the tree would need to be fairly old and well formed to set the wood with sufficient stability that it could be turned (literally on a lathe) into veneer. In North America, when Europeans showed up, the old growth timber had never been cut and you had forests of hardwood trees like maple that were hundreds of years old. By the mid to late 1800s, people were complaining that you couldn't get the good quality of wood that their grandparents were accustomed to using.

    Someone once stated that a squirrel could move in the treetops from the Atlantic Coast to the Mississippi River before we cut all the trees down!
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    Senior Member
    American English
    When I was in the wood business, I found a company that made wood business cards of extremely good quality. I just looked them up and was pleased to see they're still in business, although in the late '70s, I seem to remember a hundred varieties, but now I see they're offering 15. Each card is two-ply, with the two plies flipped opposite each other to add strength to the very thin cards. Here are the varieties, and I see that bird's-eye maple is still one of the varieties that Cards of Wood offers – it's the one in the exact center of the 15 card samples.