John L. Riter's 1873 School Desk and Seat Patent Model


Herbert L. Andrews from Chicago, Illinois, received a U.S. patent for an improved school desk. Patent no. 82061 was issued on September 15, 1868.

This desk has a square wooden top and three brass legs connected to the bottom of the desktop. The metal work is considered Gothic, with a diamond-shaped pattern. The monobloc and hinges are brass colored with two knobs so the height of the desk can be raised or lowered. The seat is adjustable in height, which allows the two parts to be held together more securely. This desk was produced by A.H. Andrews & Co. in 1870 in Chicago. It was made in six sizes and called the "Triumph School Desk." The desk got a good deal of acclaim and was exhibited at the International State Industrial Exposition in Chicago in 1873. It was displayed again at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where it won an award for "strength, durability, and good form." According to Andrews he sold over 50,000 of these school desks yearly.

Herbert Lee Andrews was born in New Britain, Connecticut, on June 6, 1844. He was educated in public schools and taught for a short period in Meriden and Plantsville, Connecticut. In 1868 he moved to Chicago and entered into manufacturing with his brother Alfred H. Andrews. They were partners in the A. H. Andrews & Co. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography (1917) states that Herbert Lee Andrews was the inventor of the first folding seat school desk. He made other desks as well as opera chairs, a dustless blackboard eraser, and an ink well. He also created steel rod framed chairs, tables, and stools, which became a staple of school furniture. In 1895 he invented a steel woven fabric to be used in place of leather or plush for car seats or railroad cars.

Date Made: 1873Patent Date: 1873-03-04

Patentee: Riter, John L.Transfer: U.S. Patent and Trademark OfficeInventor: Riter, John L.

Location: Currently not on view

Referenced In Patent Specifications: United States: Indiana, Brownsville

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.65.0388Catalog Number: 65.0388Accession Number: 249602Patent Number: 136,548

Object Name: modeldesk modelObject Type: Patent Model

Physical Description: wood (overall material)metal (overall material)paint (overall material)Measurements: overall: 11 1/2 in x 11 in x 11 1/2 in; 29.21 cm x 27.94 cm x 29.21 cmoverall:11 in x 4.25 in x 0.5 in


Record Id: nmah_664139

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