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WW2 Office Furniture


bigredone
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Is there any info on spotting office furniture used by the services during ww2? Any favored companies, typical paint jobs, markings?

 

Any info is appreciated.

 

John

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Is there any info on spotting office furniture used by the services during ww2? Any favored companies, typical paint jobs, markings?

 

Any info is appreciated.

 

John

 

Just walk into a NCO's office on one of the older military bases: it wouldn't surprised if the WWII stuff is still in use :)

 

If you go to Google images and type in the keywords army office source:life you will see that a lot of WWII military offices used desks that look like they were built on the spot from 2x4 boards and plywood (or wide boards). In the photo below you can see an example - and notice that the clerk is sitting on what appears to be a wooden folding chair. His typewriter appears to be on a metal typewriter stand. I actually had some military surplus furniture when I was kid: I was a ham radio operator and I used it to hold by big old surplus radio transmitters and receivers. My main desk was a big oak thing with the typical two drawers on each side: the typewriter stand was green and the desk chair was steel with wheels (my dad was in the Navy and I think he brought that home) and, as I recall, a green padded seat cover. A wheeled desk chair and big oak desk would not have been a typical WWII desk except for perhaps a relative few. I would imagine that every US furniture company was pressed into service making office furniture for the rapidly expanding WWII force and, as noted, it looks like a lot of stuff was just basic four legs and a top fabricated on location.

 

wwiifurn.jpg

 

This WWII folding chair is on ebay right now:

 

wwwchair.jpg

 

wwwchairlabel.jpg

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Excellent photos. I'm not thinking of field office gear, but regular office equipment. Here are two pics. The chair is made by Gunlocke.

 

 

 

 

 

Just walk into a NCO's office on one of the older military bases: it wouldn't surprised if the WWII stuff is still in use :)

 

If you go to Google images and type in the keywords army office source:life you will see that a lot of WWII military offices used desks that look like they were built on the spot from 2x4 boards and plywood (or wide boards). In the photo below you can see an example - and notice that the clerk is sitting on what appears to be a wooden folding chair. His typewriter appears to be on a metal typewriter stand. I actually had some military surplus furniture when I was kid: I was a ham radio operator and I used it to hold by big old surplus radio transmitters and receivers. My main desk was a big oak thing with the typical two drawers on each side: the typewriter stand was green and the desk chair was steel with wheels (my dad was in the Navy and I think he brought that home) and, as I recall, a green padded seat cover. A wheeled desk chair and big oak desk would not have been a typical WWII desk except for perhaps a relative few. I would imagine that every US furniture company was pressed into service making office furniture for the rapidly expanding WWII force and, as noted, it looks like a lot of stuff was just basic four legs and a top fabricated on location.

 

post-214-1250616612.jpg

 

This WWII folding chair is on ebay right now:

 

post-214-1250616637.jpg

 

post-214-1250616643.jpg

post-3937-1250617007.jpg

post-3937-1250617018.jpg

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Excellent photos. I'm not thinking of field office gear, but regular office equipment. \

 

That is what they were using in offices in WWII except perhaps for, again, a lucky few. Here's US HQ in London where it looks like this communications office has an old English desk and what looks like boards on a sawhorse:

 

wwwchairhqengland.jpg

 

At the Navy Department in Washington these guys seemed to have been given whatever was available. a couple guys have decent desk chairs but one is sitting on something that looks ike it came from the dining room.

 

navydeptfurn.jpg

 

I would guess that offices that were already in place before Pearl Harbor Day had nice chairs such as you show, maybe even nicer, and big shiny desks, and as the mobilization hit a frenetic pace, whatever was available was used, even in at higher level HQ's.

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More excellent pics. Thanks.

 

True, they used whatever they could grab. And one of the chairs looks about like mine.

 

I was hoping that the grey color and 1940 date meant I might have a navy office chair. Maybe I can strip the extra paint off & look for a USN stencil!

 

John

 

That is what they were using in offices in WWII except perhaps for, again, a lucky few. Here's US HQ in London where it looks like this communications office has an old English desk and what looks like boards on a sawhorse:

 

At the Navy Department in Washington these guys seemed to have been given whatever was available. a couple guys have decent desk chairs but one is sitting on something that looks ike it came from the dining room.

 

I would guess that offices that were already in place before Pearl Harbor Day had nice chairs such as you show, maybe even nicer, and big shiny desks, and as the mobilization hit a frenetic pace, whatever was available was used, even in at higher level HQ's.

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Salvage Sailor

I've been working in this industry for over 30 years & learned the trade from WWII vets who started with surplus purchases in 1946.

 

Major US office furnishing lines that supplied the clerks n' jerks were:

 

American Seating - over 5 million folding chairs

All Steel - files & 'battleship' desks

Steelcase - seating, files & 'battleship' desks

Gunlocke - wood chairs & desks

 

I still come across many battleship desks scattered across US military posts in Hawaii, especially at Pearl Harbor & Ft Shafter

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Not being a shill for George Petersen, but his reprint of QM3-3 list much office equipmet but has only 1 photo, which is the folding chair. ( stock number is 26-C-2280)

PM me if you need more info from this publication.

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post-214-1250616612.jpg

 

there is a type writter stand like the one in the picture in a local surplus store down the street. it looks like it was repainted (green).

 

 

I have one just like it, in grey at my job right now. I use it all the time. ;)

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I have several WW2 office chairs in my collection. The first one here is a US Medical Dept chair dated 1944. I use this at my computer every day.MVC_001S.JPG

MVC_002S.JPG

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the navy chair really is a classic and has been knocked off a million times over. if you can find a legit one, which shouldn't be too hard as they made billions and still do today, that's a piece of history that'll last thru history!

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My wife recently bought a "new" desk and chair for her home office. The furniture has the basic institutional look as that is seen in the other photos shown, except the chair has arms and is not on rollers.

 

However on the back of the chair is the tag shown below. The Defense Plant Corporation was established, August 22, 1940, to finance and supervise construction and equipping of industrial facilities operated, for the most part, by private concerns sponsored by federal agencies administering defense and war programs. Dissolved, July 1, 1945. Functions, assets, and liabilities were merged with the RFC. The RFC Office of Defense Plants was established to liquidate DPC assets.

post-203-1250773991.jpg

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  • 8 months later...
  • 5 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Those ones made in Marietta were made by Brumby. They are still in business in downtown Marietta GA. I do living history work at the Museum in Marietta, and that's one of their oldest businesses in the city.

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  • 3 years later...

Looks like this thread died a few years ago, but I just joined and wanted to put in my 2 cents.

 

I have a desk used in the Bendix plant in South Bend, Indiana. It has its defense plant corporation plate still attached. It measures 60 by 30 by 30, and is similar to the desks in the picture posted by the co founder in August 2009.

 

If there is still interest, let me know and I'll try to post some pictures.

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Looks like this thread died a few years ago...

 

Mostly because WW2 office furniture isn't nearly as 'cool' as, say, Airborne helmets and Tommy guns...

Also, I doubt a great deal of it survives today and many collectors never even think to look for the markings.

For example, the chair I posted earlier in this thread was sent to me by a pal in Florida. He said his church was getting rid of them and at the end of the service one day, the pastor says that the chairs in the meeting room are up for grabs, and mentioned in passing that they were from, "the old air field," which was Dale Mabry AAF, a fighter training base. He said there was a mad dash for the chairs, but nobody was interested in the history. I don't think even he noticed the markings underneath until he got home with two of them (he snagged one for me and another for a military collector who lives down the road from him).

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@Willys-

 

Yes, I have a similar story. My father purchased it in 1968 from an ad in an employer's newsletter in Fort Wayne, IN. He used it for the next 20 years as his anchor piece in his library. It came to me in 1998 after he died. I've never been able to use it as he did, however, and after 16 years of dragging it across the country, I think I'm ready to part with it.

 

Not sure how the person my father bought it from got it, but probably he got it in similar fashion to what you wrote. I know the government sold off its excess stuff for cheap after the war, so who knows what happened.

 

The desk is so well built that I'm surprised I haven't been able to locate more. But then again the darn thing is so heavy, perhaps folks just gave up on them and they wound up in the dump.

 

 

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Those molded plywood chairs are nice when you can find them. I used to find them all the time, then they dried up almost overnight. I think I have a good half dozen of them, all military marked.

 

 

@ 12theng-

 

Very nice!

 

 

Yes, indeed.

Love the square-leg field table. Been looking for one of those for a very long time, finally found one at the MVPA convention in July, paid a small fortune for it but I'm glad I finally have the correct pattern field desk for my displays...

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