James S. Rankin's 1862 School Desk and Bench Patent Model


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.

Date Made: 1862Associated Date; Patent Date: 1862-02-18

Patentee: Rankin, James S.Transfer: U.S. Patent and Trademark OfficeInventor: Rankin, James S.

Location: Currently not on view

Referenced In Patent Specifications: United States: Indiana, Madison

General Subject Association: EducationClassified: Patent Models


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Education, American History Education Collection, Cultures & Communities, Patent Model School Seats and Desks


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: CL.249602.582Catalog Number: 249602.582Accession Number: 249602Patent Number: 34,448

Object Name: school deskmodeldesk modelObject Type: Patent Model

Physical Description: ferrous metal (overall material)wood (overall material)Measurements: overall: 3 3/4 in x 4 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in; 9.525 cm x 12.065 cm x 13.97 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a4-9cd7-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_660962

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.