Furniture made in America during its early days sometimes used expensive imported material like mahogany with hardware from Europe. But local woods, like pine, oak, walnut and cedar, iron and even paint were available and inexpensive. The use of a local wood helps identify furniture made in New Mexico, Louisiana and parts of Pennsylvania.
An early 19th-century ladderback chair from Louisiana was sold at a recent Neal auction. It was made of cypress wood, which is rot-resistant, hard and durable, has few knots, a light golden color, and, best of all, found near the furniture maker. The chair could also be dated from the shape of the stiles, rungs and its corn husk seat. Modern copies of this type of chair to be used outdoors are made of cypress because it lasts longer than other woods.
The ladderback chair sold in the auction is 32 inches high and a comfortable 17 inches deep. It sold for $427. Cypress furniture is still being used but mainly for outdoor and garden furniture.