William Wooten's 1869 School Desk and Seat Patent Model of School Desk and Seat

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William Wooton from Richmond, Indiana, received a U.S. patent for an improved school desk. Patent no. 87386 was issued on March 2, 1869.
This patent was an improvement on Patent No. 83896. By improving the brace and the mechanism for locking, Wooton designed a way to fold the seat and desk together noiselessly. The desktop folds up completely to form an additional backrest. The mechanism for locking the desk is claimed in the patent by Wooton as well. The model is made of polished dark wood and has metal hinges. There is an indent for placing pencils, and underneath the desk there is storage.
William Wooton was born in 1835. He joined George H. Grant & Company after John P. Allen died in 1868. In 1870, Wooton formed the Wooton Desk Company after he won a five-dollar prize for a school desk at the Indiana State Fair in 1868. His best known invention was patent 155604, the Wooton’s Patent Cabinet Office Secretary. In 1884, he retired and became a preacher. He was known for introducing a revolutionary type of furniture into the business world during the Industrial Revolution. Most museums have "The Desk of the Age” in their collection. A 94-page book, published in 1983, by the Indiana State and Oakland Museums, is devoted solely to the history of the Wooton Desk Company and the evolution of the 19th century office. William Wooton died in 1907 at the age of 72. His last name is often spelled Wooten however the patent specifications clearly spell his last name Wooton as does the advertising for the company.
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Cultural and Community Life: Education
Cultures & Communities
American History Education Collection
associated date
patent date
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Wooton, William S.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Wooton, William S.
Patent Models
referenced in patent specifications
United States: Indiana, Richmond
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 7 1/2 in x 9 1/2 in x 7 in; 19.05 cm x 24.13 cm x 17.78 cm
National Museum of American History
Object Name
school desk
desk model