James Smith's 1871 School Desks and Seats Patent Model

James Smith's 1871 School Desks and Seats Patent Model

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James Smith from Richmond, Indiana, received a U.S. patent for an improved school desk. Patent no. 118161 was issued on August 15, 1871.
This wood and iron model is a double desk, with four individual seats. The two desk tops and the seats, despite having a bench-like backrest, are individualized and divided so that each seat can fold up. The backrest is composed of ten slats. There are two springs on the back of each desk for extra back support. The desk is attached to the back of the backrest with storage. It has an iron frame and metal hinges. A brass plate on the patent model states: "School Desks, James Smith, Richmond, Ind." Another silver colored plate has "School Desk James Smith, Richmond, Ind." engraved on it.
Ezra Smith, Asa Smith, and James Smith owned Ezra Smith & Co., where they manufactured various types of school furniture.
Object Name
desk model
Object Type
Patent Model
date made
patent date
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Smith, James
Smith, James
referenced in patent specifications
United States: Indiana, Richmond
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
ferrous (steel) (overall material)
brass plating (overall material)
silver plating (overall material)
bronze (overall material)
overall: 5 1/4 in x 7 in x 11 in; 13.335 cm x 17.78 cm x 27.94 cm
ID Number
catalog number
patent number
accession number
Patent Models
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Education
Cultures & Communities
American History Education Collection
Patent Model School Seats and Desks
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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