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Rocking chair
MFA#: 1976.122


Grand piano
MFA Acc#: 1982.178

Strong, valuable, hardwood trees of the genus Juglans native to the temperate climates of the northern hemisphere. Walnut trees have fine-grain, uniform wood that polishes to a high gloss. They are used for furniture, painting panels, frames, sculptures, veneer, piano cases, carving, and gun stocks. A drying oil is pressed from the nut kernels and is used in artist paints. Ground nut shells are used as a filler in plastics and as a soft abrasive. A dark brown dye can also be extracted from the nut shells.

MFA Acc#: 1985.36
  • American or Black walnut (J. nigra): native to the eastern U.S.
  • Butternut or white walnut (J. cinerea): native to the eastern U.S.
  • California walnut (J. californica): native to the western U.S.
  • English, Circassian, Persian, French walnut (J. regia): native to Eurasia
  • Chinese walnut (J. cathayensis): native to Asia
Silk dyed with walnut bark; Uemera Dye Archive
Walnut, tangential view

Synonyms and Related Terms

noyer (Fr.); Walnuss (Deut.); noce (It.); nogueira (Port.); nogal (Esp.); black walnut (Juglans nigra); Queen Ann's cabinet wood; Butternut or white walnut (J. cinerea); California walnut (Juglans californica); English walnut (Circassian walnut, Persian walnut, French walnut (Juglans regia); Chinese walnut (Juglans cathayensis)

Collection Risks

Links to Oddy Test results posted on AIC Wiki Materials Database Pages for individual materials below

° Walnut Tested in 2012

° Walnut Tested in 2012 for comparison to coated Walnut wood

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Height: 30-40 me
  • Bark: grey-black with deeply furrowed, thin ridges in a diamond pattern
  • Leaves: pinnately compound alternating on stem with 15-23 leaflets. Stem is 20-60 cm long
  • Density = 40-50 ppcf
  • Fruit: nuts ripen in late summer/fall with a greenish brown husk encasing a brown nut

Resources and Citations

  • Alden Identification Services, Microscopic Wood Identification: Link
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 856
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965 Comment: 40-50 ppcf
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=40-43 ppcf (0.64-0.70 g/cm3)

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