An adult size desk that weighs 62 pounds. It has proven to be very tough over the years, yet has a delicate warm look to it. Have never seen another quite like this one and have doubts that it was made as a school desk. It doesn't connect to other desks like others from the same time period.
Everything connects very tightly and even has custom made feet as to not scratch floor surfaces. Most of the screws are original to the desk and the others are vintage flat head slotted screws that have been distressed and baked with oil to blacken the finish. There are no Phillips head screws on this desk since Phillips screws were not in use until the mid 1930's.
The cast iron has been cleaned and painted with a high temperature BBQ black finish and is very tough. The wood was originally thought to be cherry, but is probably maple with cherry stain. The finish is satin and looks more appropriate than a glossy one would. Every effort has been made to preserve the original patina.
The height can be adjusted, but needs a wrench to make it tight.
The photograph makes the desk look crooked, but it is not. All of the wood is solid and not a veneer.
Has two complete inkwells with lids and intact glass inserts. Took more than 20 years to find these, but still have the originals.
The original inkwells are nickel plated stamped steel and have never had any corossion on them. They have been polished and clear coated with a specialized lacquer. They can be swapped out easily with the ones that are in the wells.
The interior has a lid stay, but is not original to the desk. Manufactured what it is believed to originally look like and would probably fool most experts. The interior reveals old ink stains that are common among desks of this type. For the most part, hidden away from normal view.
A 1935 Fritz-Cross office chair is paired with this desk and is also featured in the gallery of furniture oddities. The rest of this gallery shows how repairs were made. Keep in mind the desk fell off of someone's vehicle in 1985.
Had never noticed that there was a break in the right side cast iron piece. The broken chip doesn't bear any weight or stress, but proceeded to repair anyways.
The missing piece has been built up with a bronze brazing rod. Welding cast iron is possible, but success rate among professionals is low. Brazing is a better alternative. Very strong bond.
Continued repair with an industrial strength epoxy. This was done to shape the final form. The bond is very strong and is a very close approximation to the original.
This is the final result. Has been tested for strength and appears to be quite strong.
The rod has two washers that fit onto the square rod. One of them had to be manufactured. There is an interior racheted mechanism on the inside of the left and right pieces. Both have been lubricated with a very light oil. The right piece reads "E.H. Stafford Mfg. Co. Chicago Ills."
There is some lettering on each piece. The left has a large letter "O" and a smaller "L" and P. 181. The right has a large letter "O" and a smaller "R" and P. 182.
The shelf brackets were brazed together around the year 2001 and have recently smoothed out the finish with an industrial epoxy. There are 7 breaks between these 2 pieces.
The front side of the shelf brackets.
The back side of the shelf brackets after sanding and painting.
The front side of the shelf brackets after sanding and painting. Very strong pieces that look very good. The repairs are hardly noticeable.
Wood cutouts that have a gunstock stain and hand rubbed satin finish. Gunstock stain is darker and richer than cherry stain, but works well on lighter colored wood to look like aged cherry.
Bottom of the feet with upolstery leather glued to the wood.
Original top of the deck. Notice the upper corners have chipped off. Probably not a result of the desk falling off a vehicle; however, the long scratch on the lower right hand side and split along the original glued seam in the middle of the deck is.
Semi-fixed deck topside.
Beginning of back side repair.
Edge is very smooth.
Notice how the American black cherry repair doesn't match the lighter colored wood. It will after staining and finishing.
Almost undetectable repair.
Nearly finished, but may require a little touchup later.
A little minor touchup will make this repair almost perfect.
Once the desk is assembled the repairs will be very hard to detect.
Finished top side of the deck is a little darker than it originally was, but not as dark as the photograph would indicate. This was done to make the finish look more like cherry.
Bottom side of the deck has some dark streaks that are part of the aged finish.
Original bottom side of ink wells board after gluing split in the middle. The split only goes part of the way down the board.
There is a chip missing that needed to be repaired since this piece actually fits into the cast iron notches and adds support for the deck.
The original wood lightens up after sanding whereas the cherry wood repair does not. Not a big deal as long as the repair is not stained and the rest of the wood is.
Completed board back side looks good and is very smooth.
Completed board back side close up shows obvious repairs, however ...
The front side doesn't show any sign of repair and looks great.
Interior top side has old ink stains that cannot be removed. Not very noticeable once the desk is assembled. Probably made from oak, but it is possible it is chestnut.
Interior bottom side. No splits or breaks to this piece of wood.
Backside interior piece with no damage other than a couple of hairline surface cracks that are very minor.
This is what you see when you look at the back of the desk. The notches on the wood are from the shelving brackets sitting on top of the wood. Do not know if this happened over time or the result of a design flaw.
The bottom shelf pencil holder has a small chip taken out of the wood right above one of the screw holes. The cast iron bracket hides this, but was repaired anyways.
The repair before any stain or finish.
The finished board looks great and the repair is hard to detect.
The finished bottom side of the bottom shelf pencil holder.
This is the interior of the front of the desk. It is supposed to be held on with 4 screws, but two of the screw holes don't line up with any wood to screw into. This appears to be a design flaw of some sort or somehow the desk was manufactured hastily. Other than that there are no breaks or splits in the wood. This piece has 2 nickel plated steel buttons that act as a rest for the deck lid. Each has been polished and coated with a specialized clear lacquer. They have never had any corrosion.
This is what you see when you look at the lower front of the desk.
By some miracle neither of the top shelf pieces suffered any damage.
E. H. Stafford Manufacturing Company Cast Iron School Desk, Circa 1906
A collection of images from a newly restored antique cast iron and wood "school desk" from a manufacturer that specialized in church and office furniture until the mid 1920's (possibly later). Typically speaking, furniture is refinished, but this piece required so much work it is considered a "restoration". There is an incredible story behind this desk's history and it happens to be a real survivor.
On or about September 10, 1985 this desk was found in Norfolk, Virginia on I-64 East somewhere between Tidewater Drive and Northampton Boulevard smashed into pieces on the side of the highway. Must have been a real heartbreak for the person that lost it. On the other hand, it has had all of the broken pieces nicely repaired and is in nicer condition than it has been in more than 50 years.
The flash from the camera makes the chair look rougher or dirtier than it really is. You can zoom in on the images if you mouse over them. During autoplay zoom is disabled.
Valued in the range of $775 - $1750.