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antique folding schoolhouse bench

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fhrjr2's loves35 of 1960Found this 20 years ago.Silver pendant
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    Posted 2 months ago

    AnythingOb…
    (1269 items)

    This bench has been mine for several years now, since the auction when my Mom and Dad sold their farm home in IL and downsized to a condo. I actually purchased it at said auction (as it had been listed specifically, thus I couldn't "disappear" it before the sale began) after outbidding one or three others, thankfully the final bidder against me was actually one of my distant cousins who recognized me before vice-versa, thus he quit bidding and let me have it. (and was profusely thanked afterward, when things were winding down and I finally realized who he was?!) I would have paid much more for it happily, I guess Mom never realized how much I really did like/want it, or she'd have just 'called it mine' before all of that happened -- no matter, I got what I wanted... ;-) :-)

    It is, as matter of fact I don't feel the need to further verify myself, one of numerous such benches once installed at Walnut School in Fulton Co. Illinois. The (one room, frame style) country school building itself has been gone for many decades, this is one of two of its benches known (to me) to survive. THE REASON I don't worry about the story is pretty simple -- it comes to me directly from Mom, who was a student at Walnut School in her own childhood, where she learned while seated on the very same folding wooden benches. Her sister still has the 2nd 'known' one on her front porch, any others that could survive are possible but held by others.

    The cast iron ends are decorated with motifs including a corn (wheat?) stalk and part of a ship's wheel in their designs, as well as banners reading "STRIVE AND WIN" on one end and "PATIENCE WINS" on the other, along with assorted other numbers and markings -- the hinged portion of each end identifies them as made by "THOS. KANE CO.". I don't know offhand if the designs on my Aunt's bench are the same or not.

    The wood on them is original as far as I know, though it now shows much wear and decay from decades exposed to the elements. One of the cast iron seat supports (just one, I think) is also cracked in two slightly but the broken part remains present, being captive in the rest of the metalwork that holds the wood slats in place.

    To its age I really don't know, but consider that Mom and my Aunt are both now in their octogenerian years... ;-)

    My original thought was to 'restore it', then give it back to Mom. That plan didn't happen, now Mom and Dad have downsized again and really *don't* have space for it this time. Maybe that's an accidental benefit of laziness, since I've grown rather fond of it myself, in exactly the same condition in which it will now remain during my own curatorship of it... :-) :-) :-)

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    Comments

    1. BHIFOS BHIFOS, 2 months ago
      Neat story!
    2. keramikos, 2 months ago
      AnythingObscure, Cool. :-)

      Here's are some siblings:

      https://instappraisal.com/appraisal/thomas-kane-and-company-school-desk-1876

      https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-1876-ornate-cast-iron-school-53046785
    3. keramikos, 2 months ago
      FYI, I was trying to find those patents, and fell down another rabbit hole:

      Here's a W. S. Wooten desk patent dated January 18, 1876:

      https://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=00172362&IDKey=086422D228C4%0D%0A&HomeUrl=%2F%2Fpatft.uspto.gov%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fpatimg.htm

      And here is the Wooten Patent Secretary Desk (apparently no two were exactly alike despite the patents, because they were all made to order):

      http://www.collectorsjournal.com/columns/pricey-wooton-desks-continue-to-attract-buyers/article_d64b04f4-b04f-11e8-acad-57efd640884f.html

      Here's a much more modest school desk. This one's claim to fame is that there is no metal:

      https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_660960

      The February 8, 1876 patent:

      https://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=00173272&IDKey=95AA21BC2F13%0D%0A&HomeUrl=%2F%2Fpatft.uspto.gov%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fpatimg.htm
    4. keramikos, 2 months ago
      Hmmm, W. S. Wooten did patent at least one school desk design (November 10, 1868):

      https://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=00083896&IDKey=376C6C0E8B9F&HomeUrl=%2F%2Fpatft.uspto.gov%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fpatimg.htm
    5. AnythingObscure AnythingObscure, 2 months ago
      THANK YOU keramikos -- once again you're spot-on with your research skills!!! <applause> I have kinda wondered if there had been a 'desk' surface portion behind the actual seat, the examples you discovered would suggest that was the case if not now. :-) :-) :-)
    6. crewnail crewnail, 2 months ago
      Are you planning on restoring it? Some new oak slats would sure make it a useful antique. I understand that you may like it just as it is, some things are better left alone.

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