The concept of using wood veneers is nothing recent. They were used even 4,000 years ago when the Egyptians had scarcity of large timber to make furniture. So, they would often use local wood for making furniture and then use wood veneer of expensive woods for a more uniform and attractive finish. Even mummy coffins were made that way. Later, after having understood all that could have been done with wood veneers, they took it forward as an art form to marvel at. They are believed to be the pioneers in using wood veneers.
As per some sources, even ancient America used the concept of wood veneers. With time, it was discovered that this concept was also prevalent in Imperial Rome, ancient Persia, Japan, etc, where wealthy patrons employed veneer craftsmen to create beautiful works of art. The wood veneer craftsmen kept developing their tools and modes of creating spectacular pieces of veneer art.
By the seventeenth century, the development of better tools advanced the craft. Finer and even thinner saw blades came into use. These could cut thinner sheets of veneer allowing intricate pieces for inlays. By the eighteenth century, various changes in the construction styles led to changes in veneer techniques, while in the nineteenth century, manufactures had began to produce plywood, (veneered wood made from layers of thinly sliced low-grade woods glued together and often topped with a lovely veneer of a better quality wood).
In the twentieth century, the advancement of technology for slicing thinner veneers led to betterment of quality and furthered the scope of wood veneers. It also led to the revival of interest in special high-quality, exotic wood veneers, with designers, hobbyists and artists creating excellent works of art.