Today's Vintage Vocabulary term is "quarter sawn oak", also known as "tiger oak", shown in the picture below:
Any wood can be quarter sawn, but when oak logs were sawn in quarters, then boards, as opposed to the traditional "plain sawn" method, it produced desirable waves and tiger-like stripes that added flair to furniture designs. Quarter sawn oak became particularly popular during the Arts and Crafts movement, a design period around the early twentieth century.
The quarter sawn method of cutting wood is no longer used because it is somewhat wasteful as compared to the plain sawn method, which is more economical and uses more of the tree. Quarter sawn oak pieces are true treasures because they aren't being made any longer.
And speaking of oak, most of the modern-day oak sold at the furniture stores is from the red oak tree. The type of oak used for the old oak furniture we are familiar with, like the hall tree in the picture in this post, is from the white oak tree. That's why the furniture from Oak Express never looked as good as grandma's oak table.