Bold, industrial and nearly indestructible, the Tanker desk was most often confined to utilitarian uses in mid-century Americana. Today its streamlined craftsmanship earns a whole new appreciation amongst collectors and designers who are restoring this well-built classic and updating its look with modern hues.
Since 1946, the Tanker desk has been manufactured the same way - a double pedestal base, made of thick gauge steel with a natural, brushed finish. Sturdy, reliable and practically immortal, the Tanker was the largest selling commercial desk in the world and well suited for schools, offices and governmental institutions up until the 1970's. Manufactured by companies like McDowell & Craig, Art Metal, Steelcase and General Fireproofing, the Tanker desk was most often produced with one file drawer, 4 box drawers and a pencil drawer.
For the fearless DIY-er, resources like Retro Peacock are available to walk you through the process of restoring a Tanker desk on your own. A helpful tip they give in acquiring a Tanker original on-the-cheap (besides Craigslist) is to contact local elementary schools and universities. Often times these places will have a swap shop, or will simply be looking for someone to come haul away the "clunky old teacher's desk." The process of restoring any piece of steel furniture can be lengthy, but as proven by Jeremy Tanker_desk's Flickr adventures, it is possible to tackle and tame the tenacious Tanker: