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Antique School Table


When people think about antique school tables, they typically picture the rustic wood desks that lined the single room school houses of the 1800's, or the drab metal desks that filled the schools throughout the later 1900s. However, the history of the antique school table is one filled with beautiful designs and elaborate workmanship.

The History of Antique School Tables

The very first school desk was patented on April 2, 1889 by Anna Breadin. U.S. Patent number 400,738 features excellent illustrations of this beautiful desk. With a wooden seat supported by flowing and graceful metal legs, Breadin's design featured an additional pair of metal supports that held a writing surface as well as a storage shelf underneath. Created out of cast iron and wood, like most furniture of the time period, the design introduced a new concept in school furniture.

The Impact of the School Desk

This invention provided an answer to the problem most school rooms faced in the early 1800's. Students normally sat on benches and had to hold slates and slate pencils in their hands. Since most school work also involved the need to read from books, students had to struggle with balancing writing, reading and also raising their hands to answer questions. The school table provided students with a place to store tablets, books and supplies. Using this basic plan other desks were designed with the writing platform in front of the student as well as areas for storage.

Student Desks Through the Years

The history of antique school tables is one filled with more variety than one would expect. Online antique dealers are an excellent source if you are interested in seeing the full variety of styles created.

Antique Student Desks For Sale

Antique Lane lists about a hundred varieties of antique desks, with many excellent examples of some very old school tables. Antique Lane's collection currently includes:

  • Collectors Weekly lists a number of old school tables
  • GoodbyeCityLife has an excellent variety of styles
  • Ruby Lane features listings of some very unique desks, including one school easel desk and chalkboard

Some examples of old school desks from the collections above include:

  • One of Breadin's patented desks, with the patent clearly stamped on the top
  • A solid wood student desk from the early 20th century with the writing table in the front
  • A solid wood flip-top desk, a good example of the design with storage under the desk.
  • An oak Mission school desk with matching chair by Paris Manufacturing
  • Antique two piece solid wood desk and chair

Past Sales of Antique Desks

Of course, one of the best sources for the selling prices of these desks is eBay. The average price for an antique desk on Ebay is $90 to $100. However, items in excellent condition or that are unique can sell for much more. Some examples of recent sales of these tables include the following:

  • A Jean Prouve school desk sold for $3,000.
  • An antique elementary school desk sold for $150
  • One Ohio school house teacher's oak desk sold for $100
  • One Breadin style cast iron desk sold for $99

You may be able to find antique desks and school tables locally as well. The prices will be similar to eBay. Regardless of where you buy it, one of these desks makes a wonderful addition to your home. They look great in the rustic home or used to display other items in your antique collection.

For additional information about antique tables, review the following LoveToKnow articles:

Antique School Table