Vintage Steel Tanker Desks



2015-06-26 10:34:00

Vintage Steel Tanker Desks are a style of work desk designed using a sturdy steel construction.


Steel Tanker desks were originally manufactured in the 1940s and 1950s, and remained a standard item until the 1970s. Being exceptionally sturdy (sometimes described as indestructible) they were largely used by institutions such as the military, schools, police stations, and offices at industrial plants.

Usually of a basic two-pedestal design, with a file drawer, box drawers and pencil drawers, interest in them has revived recently. Tanker desks offered for sale now are usually restored, and recoloured often 'two-tone', although plain brushed steel is also popular. One of the most prolific manufacturers was McDowell-Craig, which is still making office furniture.

Guide For Collectors

Most steel furniture offered for sale has already been restored, although it is possible to find pieces in a dilapidated state. Restoration to prevent further deterioration is a lengthy process.

The Finishing website gives advice to individuals on restoring steel tanker desks and has a forum for the exchange of information.

Rehab Vintage is a company dedicated to the restoration of steel tanker desks and other vintage industrial furnishings. Twenty Gauge specialises in the restoration and sale of vintage steel furniture.

Flikr has a group of interested collectors of steel furniture who can exchange information and upload photographs of restored pieces.


Offered for sale in February 2012 by Retro Office, were:

  • A McDowell & Craig Classic Tanker Desk for the price of $1,239.00
  • A Steelcase 60" Double Pedestal Stick Leg Desk for the price of $1,889.00
  • A McDowell & Craig and Allsteel Single Pedestal Tanker Desk for the price of $1,389.00
  • A McDowell & Craig Desk With Return for the price of $2,189.00 among other designs.

Desks are also offered for sale by private individuals. Offered for sale on eBay in February 2012, were the following:

  • A refinished steel tank desk, at a 'buy it now' price of $600
  • A vintage double-pedestal tank desk for a 'buy it now' price of $995
  • A vintage L-shaped tank desk for the 'buy it now' price of $995
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