147th Field Artillery Rgt desk

147th FIELD

This is a splendid, absolutely original US Army field desk measuring 13-1/2 x 26 x 30 inches. It is still in its original World War One combat field colors and bears ownership and disposition data stenciled in 1-1/2 inch red letters. The field desk was made by James S. Topham at Washington D.C. under the United States contract of June 28, 1906 and bears an inspection stamp inside the lid with a date of January 21 1907.
WW1 field desk front/back
Adjutant's Field Desk - open
The 4 inch deep top lid of the field desk is closed by two latches and an all-brass Corbin keyed lock that was also common to high quality American made trunks manufactured at about the same time. Glued inside the top there is a sheet of paper dated June 28, 1916 that measures about 11 x 16 inches. The sheet is a typed list that describes the inventory of an Adjutant’s Head Quarters Library which was obviously once kept in the field desk. The items specified on the list are mostly US Army publications dated between 1908 and 1916.
Those 40 or so publications
are largely field manuals
such as the “Infantry and
Cavalry Drill Regulations
for the Automatic Machine
Rifle, Model of 1909”,
“Description and Rules
for the Management of
the United States Magazine
Rifle, Model of 1903”,
“Officer’s Manual -
Moss - 1911”, etc.
A removable tray inside
the top apparently once
held that library material.
Topham Adjutant's desk - front
Library label
With the top open and with the two side latches unlatched, the entire 21 x 30 inch hinged front panel opens downward to create a desk surface with a green oilcloth center and recesses to hold two inkwells. The back portion of the desk is comprised of 16 pigeon holes and one drawer, all 12 inches deep. On both ends of the field desk there are sewed 1-1/4 x 4-1/2 inch harness leather handles fixed in metal housings.
Both ends of the field desk
are stenciled in red with
RECORDS 147th F.A.
[Field Artillery] ADJ. DESK.
On the top, the red stencils
read RECORDS HQ 147th
F.A. 39 ADJ. DESK WT.85
CU.FT.4. The front of the top
has a red stencil reading
STATEROOM, which is where
the field desk was carried
aboard ship on its way home
from France after World War I.
Topham 1906 logo The 2-1/4 inch oval manufacturer’s name plate riveted to the top is heavy cast bronze, and the field desk has two wooden slats on the bottom. The lock on the front is open and we are trying to find a key to fit it.
CONDITION: quite naturally, this 95+ year old World War I veteran has a few scars that show it has been around. There are spots of dried glue and a few ink stains on the desk surface and the chimney of a kerosene lamp charred a small spot on the front of the only drawer. These marks of provenance and use do not detract from the value of old field equipment, but rather they attest to its record of service in the same way that medals on a uniform do so.

This field desk was found here in the Black Hills recently just as you see it. It has not been fixed, painted or messed with. It was painted in standard light gray-green United States Army olive-drab, probably after the army got it but before it went to France in World War I. 98% of that original paint is still there and it is in good condition.

This fine old Artillery field desk is in great solid shape and would be a spectacular addition to a Smithsonian Museum display, a field gear collection, or as a part of the equipment of a World War I military vehicle. We have never seen another 1906 field desk as complete or in as good condition as this one!
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