The walnut tree is a deciduous tree that grows throughout the world. In all there are 21 species of walnut tree however from the English furniture collectors point of view there are only a few species that were used in the 18th century.
Walnut was the cherished wood of the first decades of the 18th century, 1700-1730, the time of the monarchs Queen Anne and George Iand between the Age of Oak and introduction of exotic timbers such as mahogany from the west. The use of walnut in furniture production was primarily due to it being an indigenous wood of England and Europe. The air dried timber could be used in a multiple of ways although it is at its most splendid when veneered on cabinet furniture and often arranged in repeating patterns. The skill of the craftsman was to choose the best veneers to achieve the most striking patterns. Furniture made with simple lines, perfectly proportioned and veneered with highly grained and carefully selected walnut, or crisply carved in the solid was greatly prized and has never been much out of fashion over the ensuing 300 years.
Walnut cabinet furniture is typically supported on a oak carcass. Oak was the timber of choice for carcass's as its strong tight grain provided a perfectly stable ground to support the fine veneers. Veneers were all painstakingly hand cut with a saw and were typically around 1/16" thick. Thick veneers are one of the first things to look for when considering quality antique walnut furniture of this period.