John P. Allen's 1865 School Desk and Seat Patent Model

John P. Allen's 1865 School Desk and Seat Patent Model

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John P. Allen from Richmond, Indiana, received a U.S. patent for improvements in a school desk. Patent no. 46980 was issued on March 28, 1865.
This desk is attached onto the back of the seat, and there are metal dividers between the seats to separate the desks. The design makes the desk sturdy so that it can stand without being fastened to the floor. The backrest and seat join for lower back support, but there are no curves in the design. Decorative ironwork assists in connecting multiple desks. "Allen inventor, Richmond, Indiana" is written on a silver plate that is mounted on the backrest. There is storage provided underneath the desktop, but the top does not lift up.
John P. Allen formed a partnership with George H. Grant to manufacture Allen’s self-supporting school desks. When Allen died in 1868, Joseph Marchant became a partner. Marchant was succeeded by Joshua Nickerson and William Wooten, and the firm became known as the George H. Grant & Company.
Object Name
desk model
Object Type
Patent Model
date made
patent date
Allen, John P.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Allen, John P.
referenced in patent specifications
United States: Indiana, Richmond
Physical Description
ferrous metal (overall material)
paint (overall material)
plating (overall material)
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 5 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in x 10 1/2 in; 13.97 cm x 21.59 cm x 26.67 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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