Satinwood is hard, and of a light, brilliant yellow colour. Its grain is varied very beautifully, and it has a silk-like lustre of rich effect. It comes from Central and Southern India and Ceylon, also from the West Indies, Porto Rico and the Bahamas, and it is used extensively for veneering and also for inlaid decoration.
The Age of Satinwood
With the revival of marquetry work in fine furniture in England of the late 18th century neoclassical era wood of lighter, more exotic variety was preferred, such as satinwood.
From 1760 quantities of exotic West Indian satinwood were imported, this wood being of yellow appearance, fine and plain grained, and richly figured. From 1780 satinwood from the East Indies was also employed differing from the West Indian variety in having a cloudy, grainless look when polished.
1790, Painted satinwood dining chair, with caned seat.
Both kinds of exotic satinwood were used as veneer and inlay and occasionally as a solid. Satinwood furniture of this era has a light golden yellowish shade which in antique furniture today has mellowed to a rich honey.
Both birch and chestnut resemble satinwood to a great extent and these woods were often used as substitutes for satinwood in the late eighteenth century.
1769, Satinwood Table, for serving coffee. Satinwood, oak and pine, inlaid with ebony and hardstones.
From around 1800, until 1820, satinwood's place was generally usurped by rosewood.