Wood and Materials

Over the last thirty years, I have been on a continuous search for the true woods and materials used in old bows. I have imported much wood, and studied many excellent historical bows. Even now, I still find new sources and rare well-aged wood. I met David Persram about 20 years ago in one of the great felicitous accidents of my career. A wood specialist and conservator in Guyana, he has supplied me, and eventually on my recommendation, bowmakers throughout the world, with historical woods from South America. David continues to supply fine and exotic woods to bowmakers and other artisans. He can be reached at info@exoticwoodsandcrafts.com, tel. ...592 22 61757 or (55641). I am encouraging the use of many of these woods as an alternative to Pernambuco because of their high quality and the rarity of truly fine pernambuco for bows. I believe that there are in fact great advantages in some of these woods, such as consistency, good colour and less toxicity in fine dust proteins---important for the bowmaker. Please contact me for further information at stephen.marvin@historicalbows.com.  *Note that I do not use elephant ivory in any of my bows.  I do have fossil mammoth ivory available upon request.

Most wood in 18th century bows is from South America, and was originally imported to Europe for packing, dyes and fine furniture.Varieties of prodigious experience... bow wood, fossil ivory and tools. Because a bow weighs so little---most between 45 and 100 grams---the special characteristics of weight, elasticity and color are particularly sensitive. The fact that a longer bow would weigh more than a short bow, and need to be particularly strong without being too heavy, led the late 18th century makers to search for an alternative to the preferred Snakewood, or Letterwood. From about 1750 to1800 many woods were used successfully for bows, including rare species not easily acquired today. Among those that I have personally seen in numerous old bows are:

Snakewood (letterwood)
Ebony and Ivory
Alternative Bow Wood

Varieties of prodigious experience...  
bow wood, fossil ivory and tools.