James S. Rankin from Madison, Indiana, received a U.S. patent for an improved school desk. Patent no. 34448 was issued on February 18, 1862.
This model features a row of desks and benches held together with a central beam. This design resulted in sufficient support using the least amount of material and simplified the cost and construction of the desk.
James S. Rankin was born in 1818. He served as a county and city superintendent of schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was known for the Rankin School Desk, which was popular because it was inexpensive and convenient. These desks were used in Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois, and many other city schools. His desk was exhibited in the Mechanic’s Hall at the Indiana State Fair where it was recommended for first premium, a cash award. He died in 1897.
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