Antique School Desk Swivel Chair History & Craftsmanship

Updated January 10, 2022
Vintage School Desk and Chair

Antique school desk swivel chairs were attached to old school desks and used by children all over North America. These days they can be found in antique stores, personal collections, and even museums. They're very reminiscent of a bygone era and can add real charm and a sense of nostalgia to a space.

Styles of Antique School Desk Swivel Chairs

There's a huge difference between modern day school desks and chairs and antique varieties. Antique chairs are sturdier but also more graceful and elegant than modern day versions. Antique school desk swivel chairs are particularly so. Most antique desks and chairs were made of woods such as pine, redwood, and oak. Sometimes, they had metal legs. The desk portion was often slanted, and some had storage space underneath the desktop.

Separate Seat and Chair

Some school desks had a separate swivel chair that could be bolted to the floor in front of the desk. Often, desks and chairs had cast iron bases. These may be difficult to find as a set, since the desk and chair were not always sold together. Swivel chairs are far rarer than school desks with stationary chairs.

Ancient wooden with iron children school table and chair

Vintage School Desks With Attached Chairs

Most examples have the seat attached to the desk, creating a smooth, graceful line from desk to chair. These were particularly popular during the early and middle part of the 20th century, and you can find many vintage desks like this.

Antique School Desk

Teacher's Swivel Chair

The teacher's swivel chair was usually crafted from oak and other hardwoods and featured a slatted back. You can find these dating from the late 1800s through the 1900s, and they still make lovely office chairs.

Antique Swivel Office Chair

Where to Find Antique School Desk Swivel Chairs

These old desk chairs have long gone out of fashion, but collectors can still find them. Like with any antiques, check country estate sales, antique shops, and even old schools themselves (if you're allowed!).

Because antique school desk swivel chairs are heavy and expensive to ship, it's usually better to look locally for these items. More often than not, you'll find ones for sale from private sellers on online auction sites like eBay with local delivery only. You can also look on local classified sites.

Value of Antique Desks and Chairs

The prices for antique swivel chairs and desks can vary, but they can often be purchased for $100 or less. However, some of these old desks and chairs can be much more valuable. The condition is important; make sure the wood isn't cracked, scratched or warped and the chair swivels easily. The quality of the workmanship can have an effect on the price as well. The more elaborate the design, the more valuable the piece.

Before buying, make sure to do a bit of research and comparison shopping. Check out a few different varieties and see what they're selling for. For example, watch a few items on eBay and see what the bidding prices are and what the items finally go for. This will give you an idea of what people are willing to pay, such as the following sold examples:

Where to Use Antique School Furniture

While they're not used in schools anymore, antique school desks with swivel chairs can be quite charming when used to decorate kids' bedrooms, playrooms, or even home studies and offices. It can give children a cute place to sit and do their homework or do arts and crafts. It will add a real sense of nostalgia to any place it's used.

Beloved and Historical

If you have one of these antique pieces, be sure to take care of it. Wax and/or polish it and try to prevent it from getting damaged. They haven't been made for a long time, and their value will likely only rise. Antique school desks and chairs contain all sorts of history are beloved by collectors the world over.

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Antique School Desk Swivel Chair History & Craftsmanship