Our Antique School Desks and Books


Lately, I’ve been putting time into some things I can’t speak much of, yet.  Well, I could. But there has been too many time in my life, when I have spoken too soon, about many things, that never really came to be, in the end. So I am finally starting to remember to keep my mouth shut about some things, until they are a little more certain! How about that, huh? I’m only in my 40’s.  Anyway, just so you know, I’ve been more creatively productive than it has seemed lately. ; ) Doesn’t it bug you when people speak so vaguely? Me too. I’m sorry. I do hope to share  more with you all, soon.

But today, I wanted to show you a couple of home treasures of ours, that I love.  They are some old little school desks. If you like antiques, and/or you like old school things, you may find these pieces interesting.


This first school desk is one my husband, Michael, picked up at a yard sale he stopped at.  He saw it, and knew I would love it.  Because I not only love antiques, but love all things ‘old school days’ related! He paid $15 for it, and once he did, the seller told him it was made around 1932.   It’s all solid wood, and pretty small, as it seems most school desks were back then.  As you can see, I just have it set tucked in under a wall table.  



Just inside the desk, are these two really old books.


This book, Twelve Ways to Build a Vocabulary, is by Archibald Hart, with a foreword by Johnson O’Connor.   I came across it at a tag sale, on a table with a lot of other books, and bought it for $1.00!  The kids and I love vocabulary, and this book is just interesting to read through.  Printed in 1939, it has an old worn linen cover, fragile binding, and yellowed pages throughout.


This one, titled The Complete Home Handyman’s Guide, was Michael’s grandmother’s.   I couldn’t tell you if she ever read it, but I did have the blessing of getting to know her in the years before she passed, so I can tell you this much; she was as good as any handyman around!  She did all of the work of the greatest of handymen, and well into her 70’s!   Michael said he grabbed this book out of a box of others his parents had. It was printed in 1948.

We have other wonderful old books in our home as well. Some more meaningful than others. But all of them make my nose tingle, when I flip through them. What’s up with that?


Our second desk is a little more sentimental.  Michael used this desk as a little boy.  He tells me that it originally came from his aunt’s home, who had 5 girls.  He recalls when he was little, that they had about 3 of these little desks, as well as teacher’s desk.  They did not home school, but just used all of the school furniture in the playroom, to pretend with.   At some point, one of them ended up coming to Michael’s family’s home, and he used it in his bedroom, while he was in early elementary school.


Through the years Michael and I were dating, Ido recall seeing it in his parent’s basement. It was of no interest to me at the time. When his parents sold their home and moved away, Michael took the desk, and it then sat in our own basement for years. Eventually, I fell in love with home schooling, all things from old schooling days, and antiques in general. When I remembered we had this old school desk of Michael’s in the basement, I couldn’t wait to bring it upstairs!


Although I have to admit, we truly have no room for it in our school room, and it is constantly in the way! It’s far too small for any of our kid’s to really use. And believe it or not, it’s heavy! Still, I love to see it.  It’s charming, isn’t it?

Well, most of it. There is a reason I have only showed you the desk on this angle, so far.

Here, let me show you the other sides……


Can you believe this mess? Guess who did this? Michael! When he was little, and the desk was his in his bedroom, he put all of these stickers on it. He says they were the stickers he got in school from the teachers, and when he came home, he would put them on his desk. 


I think for the years this desk was in the basements at his old home and ours, the stickers is all I saw when I looked at it. It’s pretty much baffling to me. I have always told my kids, “We only put stickers on paper! Never on walls or furniture!”. Guess Michael never got that memo.  Even the kids were like, “DADDY did that? Oh my……gosh!”.


I told Michael, “Guess who’s cleaning them off? I don’t care if you’re 43 now.” ; )  Of course, they are still on there, so far.  He’s not that afraid of me, much. But I haven’t really put my foot down yet either.  In a way, I find it endearing to know he did all of this as a little boy. I bet he was so cute. And now we have the whole piece in our home, with 4 of his own little children.  But then, did you really look at all of the stickers closely?…..


What-in-the . . . . . .  Really?  A teacher was passing these out in school?  Lord have mercy. That’s a little disturbing. Don’t you think?  I don’t even get it. What does it mean?  I do know, that every time I look at it, I look for the woman’s arms. Where are her arms? Further disturbing.  Yeah, he needs to clean these off.  It would be nice cleaned up and refinished to it’s natural state anyway. Meanwhile, I keep this side turned to the wall.


Another feature about this desk, is that it’s on boards.  I guess they used to screw the desks to the floor, so the kids weren’t moving them all over the place.  Or something.  I just tell mine to sit still. Anyway, this desk is so different than our other one we showed you, that is all wooden. Isn’t it?


I have no real year of this desk, but we can see on the base that it was made by Kenney Bros. and Wolkins, a manufacturer in Boston.  I did some research online and looked at hundreds of photos of old desks, but never found any just like the two we have. Still, I don’t imagine they are anything that unique or valuable in worth.  They are kind of special to us though, and that makes them worth something.

Could you tell us anything about the two desks we have here?  Do you enjoy antiques, or love old school pieces too? I really do. I bet there are other home schoolers who do, too.  If not, we hope you at least enjoyed seeing ours, today.  Thanks so much for coming by, and visiting us.


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  1. 9
    Lynn McGarry says:

    I love all your school related items. I am a retired teacher and was so happy when I found a desk and chair like the one your husband had. I too fell in love with it in a thrift store. I was not as lucky to get a steal in price as your husband’s however, I had to buy it! I love it! I can actually use mine to read and write on.I L9ve that it reminded me of my school days not just as a student but also as a teacher. Thanks for sharing!

    • 9.1
      Laura says:

      Hi Lynn! Thanks so very much for sharing with us. It’s always nice to connect with our readers, who have a real love and appreciation for the same kinds of things we do. How fun that you found an old school desk, that makes you smile, as a token of your special memories. Yours sounds a bit bigger than ours! Ours is definitely for a small child.
      We very appreciate teachers, also, so thank you for your years in education. Your comment made our day. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
      The Richard Family / House of Joyful Noise blog

  2. 8
    Tammie says:

    I got one of the Kenney Bros. & Wolkins Boston Mass. not too long ago and paid $10. It’s in pretty good shape (no stickers 🙂 and in my living room as a lamp table next to a chair (I had to put a wedge under my lamp, since the desk slopes a little. On mine, the Kenney, etc., is imprinted in the iron, down near the feet of the desk on both sides and at the top of the legs it says “No.5”, whatever that means. I would love a chair to go with it.

  3. 7
    Tania says:

    I just bought two of these desks a few weeks ago. I don’t know anything about antiques, never have been into it. But when I saw these I thought they were cute and cheap so I got them. Do you have any idea how much they are worth?

    • 7.1
      Laura says:

      Hi Tania! I apologize for the delayed response here! It got pushed down my list quickly and I guess I missed it.
      Regarding your question, I think it would really depend on the desk. Generally though, I don’t think they are worth much yet anyway, simply because there are so many around. You can generally gather too, that if an antique is being sold, the seller has likely made sure it’s not worth something significant, before they sell it for next to nothing. 😉 However, we all have heard the stories where people HAVE bought items at a tag sale, and discovered they were worth a ton. So, it happens!
      Go ahead and research it yourself! There is lots of information about estimating the worth of antiques, on the web. Also, Ebay is a great place to see the common pricing of a piece, just for some consideration.

      Hope this helps! And hope you visit us again soon.
      Laura / House of Joyful Noise blog

    • 7.2
      Margaret says:

      I’m in Massachusetts and have a chair got this. Message if interested.

      • Laura says:

        Hi Margaret! Well, we weren’t really looking for a chair for it. But, maybe we’d consider it. Please email us a photo, how much you’d want for it, and let us know what part of MA you’re in. We’ll get back to you when we hear from you. Our email is: TheRichardHome@aol.com
        Thanks! – The Richard Family / House of Joyful Noise blog

  4. 6
    Tracey says:

    Hello, I just found this blog post because I purchased a desk and chair that look identical to the one above that your husband put stickers all over (lol.)

    I was at a local antiques fair, and I’ve had my eye out for a desk for my daughter to do her homework on. I found this and had to have it.
    We live in an antique house (circa 1765) and try to purchase antique furniture when possible. This desk is so charming. I’m in love with it.

    Not sure if I paid too much or not, but searching around the internet, I think I may have gotten a steal!

    We also have a beautiful old teacher’s desk that came from my husband’s grandfather, who was a custodian at a school. It’s gorgeous, solid wood, and huge!
    Thanks so much for sharing your antiques!

    • 6.1
      Laura says:

      Hi Tracey! – Just found your comment, and enjoyed reading it! Your house sounds like a dream to me, and what a sentimental treasure you have on your hands, with the teacher’s desk from your husband’s grandfather! How wonderful for you. Glad you foound a desk for your daughter as well. I love (love, love) old school(house) anything!

      Thanks again so much for sharing. Hope you come around again sometime. 🙂
      Blessings to you and yours –
      Laura / House of Joyful Noise blog

  5. 5
    Matthew S. says:

    Begining in the late 1880’s the Kenny Bros. Co. began producing many items for specifically the public schools in and around New England. The desk you have was made after 1930 when they merged with Wolkins. Wolkins at the time owned a wooden furniture making company. The merger between them utilized the Kenny Bros. cast iron works with Wolkins wood furniture to produce one of many styles of desks and chairs for both teacher and pupil. The unique adjustable legs of their products allowed a single desk or chair to be resized to fit the need of the classroom. Hope this information helps you out… I love the craftsmanship of yesterday. The fact that many of these products are still around and useful today is a true testament of their worth…

  6. 4
    verna says:

    When I was a little girl in elementary school in Indiana, we had the type of desks that were attached to a long board..I imagine the point of these were that the janitor did not have to move each individual desk to clean and mop the floor. He would just push the whole row over . Also don’t you imagine it was quieter?__No tipping the desks , little boys “pretending” that their desk fell over etc. Also the desks in my school had inkwells in the corner . We did not have ballpoint pens, but used pens that we dipped into ink wells. This only after we reached third grade. Oh yes, I started first grade in 1945 and there were 30 children in my class.!

    • 4.1
      Laura says:

      Hi Verna! – Well thanks for taking us, and our readers, for a little trip back in time! When I was in high school, we had similar, though more modern day I am sure, desks – where the chair and rack beneath it (for our other books) were attached to a long board to work on. In my elementary years, I also recall buying a feather pen and jar of ink on a field trip, and I couldn’t wait to use it when I got home to try it out! I was as fascinated with the pioneer days than, as I am now.
      So glad you stopped by, and shared a piece of your childhood with us. Do come again!
      -Laura / House Of Joyful Noise

  7. 3

    What a fun post! Your antique desks are wonderful – and I laughed out loud when I saw your husband’s desk with all those stickers! LOL (Can’t believe you got the 1932 desk for $15 – what a steal!)

    • 3.1
      Laura says:

      Yes, what a surprise that all those school stickers were all over the other side, huh? Shame on him. ; ) But I am grateful that he picked up that little $15 1932 desktoo! A steal indeed. What I am REALLY on the lookout for, his an outdoor school bell, to mount to the side of my house by the back door. I’ve been on the lookout, but haven’t found one yet. May need to get one on the internet. The day hubby comes home and surprises me with one of those, he’ll get something good in return! 🙂 ~Thanks for stopping by, and your comment, Laura!

  8. 2
    Kristin K says:

    I love the old books! My husband and I love to collect old books from used book stores. I love thinking about whose hands they must have been in and the places this book may have travelled. It’s always interesting if there is a personal inscription or passages that are underlined that stood out to the reader. Man that really gets you thinking!!! They are truly treasures, especially since the printed word may be disappearing in our ever-changing electronic world. Thank you for sharing this!
    By the way – that sticker is freaky. And since you mentioned her arms, I am bugging about that too. Too bad there is not a way to search that image out to get the scoop. Crazy! Must be from the 60’s? 🙂

    • 2.1
      Laura says:

      I know it Kristin, old books ARE so interesting! I love the linen covers and discolored pages. Do they make your nose tingle sometimes, too? lol. We don’t have a lot of old books, but some. Mostly handed down from previous family generations.
      I sure hope real books never disappear! I love being in libraries and bookstores, and so do the kids.
      You had me laughing about the freaky sticker….but I KNOW, RIGHT? I just might try to research it, somehow. Must be one twisted artist! (Aren’t we all, though? rofl).

  9. 1
    Smallgood says:

    They are lovely. I love the chippy, well worn quality of them. My husband put stickers on his dresser as a kid. Worst part, they are dentist “no cavity” stickers. I just bought a school desk for our office (http://www.smallgoodhearth.com/2012/03/from-attic-childrens-school-desk.html), like you, I just love the look of the old school days and the stories that this furniture tells.

    • 1.1
      Laura says:

      Thanks for sharing the link to the little school desk you just bought, too. Love it!
      It’s nice to have others who understand the warm little fuzzies I get about these schoolish things. lol. Always glad when you stop by!

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