Dragon’s Blood is a pigment that was widely used in furniture finishes before and in the early 19th century. Synthetic dyes and a shift to different preferences in wood species moved makers away from this very popular finish, and of course, the dying off of dragons, the source of the dye . . .
Okay, just kidding.
Dragon’s blood comes from the crimson red resin produced by several trees in the Dracaena family, a genus of trees and succulent shrubs. The favorite source was from Dracaena cinnabari, a dragon tree native to the Socotra Archipelago (four islands) in the Indian Ocean. This resin produced a pigment also used in fabric dyes, lipsticks, and medicinally.
As a varnish, it fades considerably, and this can be seen below (clockwise) in a game table from the McLoughlin House, in a decorative part of an Irish linen press, in an American Pembroke table, and in a very faded Hepplewhite chair. Sometimes it is hard to know that a piece was dyed using dragon’s blood until we open the doors or pull apart a piece and see the original color.
It is still used today, most widely by makers of violins, and, of course, by conservationists!
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not for use on blogs without permission.
Image of the tree, resin, and of the Ljubljana Dragon is from Wikipedia!