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If the piece has drawers, remove a drawer and look carefully where the front and back of the drawer are fastened to the sides of the drawer.
If a joint was dovetailed by hand, it has only a few dovetails, and they are not exactly even; if it has closely spaced, precisely cut dovetails, it was machine-cut.
The walnuts quickly became almost entirely superseded by the exotic newcomer, which remained the favourite choice for the next century, especially in England and America.
American furniture styles have seen a significant number of style periods since the early Colonial era, with each period being to some degree influenced by the pieces being built in Europe (generally England and France).
Many vintage furniture buyers opt for quality reproductions that are more affordable, and either option is fine providing that you research your subject well when identifying antique furniture.
If the piece of furniture is dirty or encrusted with wax, clean it first with a mixture of denatured alcohol, white vinegar, and kerosene, in equal parts. Very early furniture, from the Middle Ages until the beginning of the eighteenth century, is mostly oak, but since the end of the seventeenth century, other woods as walnut and mahogany became the preferred choice among the cabinet makers.
Around the 1670s they came to recognise the better properties of the walnut, which dense grain allowed for lighter and finer shapes of the furniture, and quickly turned into a most fashionable material.
However, in the early eighteenth century, the walnuts in central Europe were nearly extinguished by a frosty winter and its numbers were significantly reduced.
Meanwhile in 1730s mahogany became increasingly popular after it was introduced to England, imported from the British colonies in Honduras and the West Indies.
Exact symmetry is another sign that the piece was machine-made.