Wood and Materials
Snakewood (letterwood)

The original! Snakewood varies in color from yellow to dark reddish-brown. With its rosetta stone dark pattern, and a grain that finishes like marble, this wood was the obvious choice for the finest early bows. I am aware of snakewood bows from the later 17th century, but there may be examples much earlier. I suspect that once bow making became more than a merely utilitarian endeavor---once it was viewed, like violin making, as an art---the choice of materials was taken more seriously. Snakewood was certainly used throughout the 18th century, in every country where fine bows were created. Characteristically, bows from snakewood have little or no camber. They were straight until a frog was inserted under the hair, making the bows slightly or more significantly convex. Snakewood only went into decline late in the 18th century when the added length made the weight and relative flexibility of this wood impractical.

My opinion is that many of the old French bows identified as "Amourette" are in fact unfigured snakewood, usually from the deep heartwood of the tree.

Brosimum guianense: Varies from highly figured to plain --Amourette.