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

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

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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.
Object Name
school desk
desk model
Object Type
Patent Model
date made
associated date; patent date
Rankin, James S.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Rankin, James S.
referenced in patent specifications
United States: Indiana, Madison
Physical Description
ferrous metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
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
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Patent Models
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Education
Cultures & Communities
American History Education Collection
Patent Model School Seats and Desks
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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