Thakeham Furniture

August 20, 2011

Satinwood … And the Countess of Pembroke

Pembroke tables were named after the Countess of Pembroke, said to have been the first to order one. They appeared as a form in about 1750, but really became popular about 1780. They were considered to be a useful small table, with hinged wooden “fly-arms” to support the drop flaps, a drawer at one end and a “dummy” drawer at the other. Used as a writing or occasional table, they are always popular.

This oval satinwood example, dating from about 1790, is a particularly elegant form of the design. It has square tapered legs inlaid with ebony line, and original brass castors with the typically 18th century wide wheels.

It is made in West Indian satinwood, an exotic hardwood usually imported from Guiana, and, prized for its golden colour and watery figure that resembles moiré silk, was much used for fine quality pieces during the Sheraton period. East Indian satinwood was imported from Ceylon from the 1780s and was used up until the Edwardian era.

The faded tulipwood crossbanding complements the satinwood veneer. Tulipwood, which was imported from Brazil, has an amazing pink and yellow stripe when freshly cut, and was often for decorative inlay.

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