Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
D. ebenum Indian and Ceylon Ebony
D. melanoxylon Coromandel Ebony
D. dendo Black Ebony
Ebony is a fine grained timber of several species of the persimmon genus Diospyros. The timbers are divided into three broad groups, those that are uniformly black such as D. piscatoria and D. crassiflora (Africa), those that are black with lighter streaks such as Coromandel Ebony (D. melanoxylon) and Macassar ebony (D. quaesita) from the island of Celebes and those that are pale cream and much lighter such as D. virginiana (North America) and D. mespiliformis (Africa).
In Antwerp at the end of the 16th century, fine cabinets for the luxury trade were made of ebony, whose dense hardness lent itself to refined moldings framing finely detailed pictorial panels with carving in very low relief (bas-relief), usually of allegorical subjects, or taken from classical or Christian history. Within a short time, such cabinets were also being made at Paris, where their makers became known as ébénistes, which remains the French term for 'cabinet-makers'.
As a result of non-sustainable harvesting, many ebonies are now endangered species.
African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) is often mistaken for Ebony as it is a dense fine grained and black but Ebony is matte black as opposed to African Blackwood which has depth and a reflective translucent quality in its grain. Both timbers are decorative and valuable and used in musical instruments, African blackwood in clarinets and similar woodwind instruments because of its tonal quality and Ebony for piano keys, violin finger boards, pegs and cheek rests because of its wear resistance qualities.
Another ebony species known as persimmon (D. virginiana) is in fact a cream light coloured timber with the off-white darker colour center timber being discarded. the lighter colour timber was used in golf club heads in the recent past becaused it had tremendous resistance to impact.
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