Steel Tanker Furniture

Above: An office furnished with steel tanker desks, circa 1950. This setting happens to be the Statistical Planning Department at a company called Rust Craft. (Source: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History)

Dawn of the Industrial Age

Above: A man sitting behind his tanker desk in 1956.(Source: photograph by Nabel Leonard, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History)

Steel has been made for thousands of years in the forges of blacksmiths. However, large quantities of steel were too expensive and impractical to produce until Henry Bessemer introduced his unique manufacturing process in 1858. By the 1950s, engineers improved steel production by refining the technique known as the Linz-Donawitz process of basic oxygen steelmaking, the dawn of America’s steel industrial age.

The availability of massive amounts of steel made possible the development of what we know today as the tanker desk. Built to be fireproof, these desks are a remnant of the industrial age that speak to an era where products were made in America with a quality that would not be economically feasible to produce today.

Steel Tanker Furniture Resources

This section of Retro Peacock is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of steel tanker furniture. Below is a guide on how to completely refinish your tanker desk. If you have any questions or comments, please join the conversation on Twitter! #tankerdesk

Above: the “Iron and Steel in America” exhibition, circa 1950s, located in the United States National Museum. (Source: Smithsonian Archives, History Division, Smithsonian Institution)

These fish need attention. Please share this page!

comments powered by Disqus