This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The common evergreen box is a native of Europe as far as 52° N. lat., and is abundant in S. and E. France, Spain, Italy, the Black Sea coast, Persia, N. India, China, and Japan. For some years past the supply of this important wood has diminished in quantity and risen in price. It is mainly derived from the forests of the Caucasus, Armenia, and the Caspian shores. The wood of the best quality comes from the Black Sea forests, and is principally shipped from the port of Poti. The produce of the Caspian forests known in the trade as " Persian," used also to be exported through the Black Sea from Taganrog. This found its way, after the commencement of the Russo-Turkish war, via the Volga canal, to St. Petersburg. The produce of the Caspian forests is softer and inferior in quality to that of the Black Sea. It is a large article of trade with Russia, reaching Astrakhan and Nijni-Novgorod in the spring, and being sold during the fair. It recently amounted to 130,000 poods (of 36 lb.). True Caucasian boxwood may be said to be commercially non-existent, almost every marketable tree having been exported.
The value of the yet unworked Abkhasian forests has been much exaggerated, many of the trees being either knotted or hollow from old age, and most of the good wood having been felled by the Abkhasians previous to Russian occupation. The boxwood at present exported from Rostov, and supposed to be Caucasian, comes from the Persian provinces of Mazanderan and Ghilan, on the Caspian. Boxwood is characterized by excessive hardness, great weight, evenness and closeness of grain, light colour, and capacity for taking a fine polish. Hence it is very valuable for wood-engraving, turning, and instrument-making. The Minorca box (B. balearica), found in several of the Mediterranean islands, and in Asia Minor, yields a similar but coarser wood, which probably finds its way into commerce. The approximate value of Turkey box is 6-20l. a ton.