bilsted n Also sp bil(l)stead, arch varr bileste(a)d, boilste(a)d [Appar an alteration of the colonial Du bijlsteel (literally “ax handle”) for the same tree, but why it was so called and why the last consonant was changed are not clear.] chiefly seNY obs or hist
= sweet gum n. Note: The identification with maple in quot 1830 is probably a mistake, perhaps stemming from the maple-like leaves of the sweet gum.
[1655 Donck Beschryvinge 18 seNY, Daer is oock . . Bylesteels dat seer op het Ceederen treckt. [=There are also . . Bylesteels that much resemble cedars.]] 1712 in 1894 NY Hist. Soc. Coll. 26.88 seNY, I, Johanes Byvanck, of Staten Island, turner . . . leave to my eldest son Evert Byvanck all my wearing apparel and my tools; Also my great Bilested chest and £5. 1742 in 1895 Ibid 27.380 seNY, I, Richard Betts, of Jamaica, in Queens County . . . leave to my youngest son John a lot of land . . beginning at a tree near where John Wright formerly lived, and then north over the hill to “a billstead pond.” [1751 Societas Regia Scientiarum Upsaliensis Acta for 1744–50 79 seNY, Liquidambar. . . Nostratibus Gumwood. Belgis Noveboracensibus Beil steil. [=Liquidambar . . . By our people [called] gumwood; by the Dutch of New York beil steil.]] 1776 in 1886 Scharf Hist. Westchester NY 1.466, [Inventory:] 1 square tea table. 1 boilsted, small, with drawers. . . 1 large boilsted table. 1782 in 1904 NY Hist. Soc. Coll. 36.295 Flushing NY, Unto my said wife . . my wild Cherry chest of drawers, my round Bilestead table, my best milch cow, and my riding chair. 1806 NY Spy (NY) 25 Nov /4, [Advt:] A constant supply of Mahogany in any thickness . . : Bilstead, Cherry, Maple, White Wood, &c. 1828 in 1830 Watson Annals Philadelphia app 52 NYC, Mr. Abraham Brower, aged 75, told me the following facts, viz: . . Mahogany was not in general use . . . The general furniture was made of “billstead,”—i. e. maple. 1833 Eve. Post (NY NY) 24 June /7, Coffins, made of the best materials and workmanship . . . St. Domingo Mahogany, highly polished, Walnut, Cherry, Boilstead and Whitewood. 1843 Torrey Flora NY 2.217, Liquidambar styraciflua, Linn. Common Sweet-Gum. Bilsted. 1873 Chr. Union 7.113 Flushing NY, The bilsted tree that sent its branches out to within arm’s length of the window pane was, to my certain knowledge, full of a flock of the lesser redpoll. 1920 Gardeners’ Chron. 24.176 NJ,This spot is protected from rough winds[,] and the bright colors of the maples and bilsteads used in the grove and elsewhere make it warm with color in October. 1961 Oswego Palladium-Times (NY) 1 Feb 3/7, [Syndicated column:] Storax . . is a balsam obtained from the sweet gum, Bilsted or Alligator tree which grows along the Atlantic coast from Connecticut down to Mexico. 2007 Safford Amer. Furniture Metropolitan 308, Sweet gum (often called bilsted at the time and now commonly also red gum or gumwood) found favor as an inexpensive substitute for mahogany.