Uncovering Lost Treasure - Antique Art Deco Telephones In Storage Since 1945

November 7th, 2010

Every collector dreams of being the person to uncover cities of lost gold, the next Tutankhamen’s tomb, or if not that, an overgrown, abandoned railroad depot packed to the rafters with relics and surprises. That hasn’t happened to me yet, but here’s something almost as good that did happen:

Uncovering lost antique treasure

Click the photo above to read how I uncovered a stash of antique telephones that had been hidden in a warehouse for 60 years, new in their boxes. It may not seem like much to you, but for me it felt like I was Howard Carter opening King Tut’s tomb in the 1920s for the first time after thousands of years.

Has anybody else ever had an experience like this?

3 comments so far

  1. josh holmes Says:

    I came across a phone today.. Was given to me actually.. Can not find one similar in all the photos i have been going thru… A little help in identifying issible… Heres a brief discription… It is a metal stromberg calson wall telephone.. Bottom half of the face jad small rotary dial… Approx 2.5-3 inch in diameter… Hand held ear piece hangs on left side of housing… Mic.. Or speak into part located above dial on the face…. Also has the bells located inside t he housing

  2. Roger Voeller Says:

    What an amazing find! Lack of a dial doesn’t mean that the phone was used only as an extension… it usually means that it was connected to a manual switchboard. You picked up the handset and waited for the operator to ask “number please?” You then gave the number you wanted, and the operator connected your call. One other comment has mentioned finding the word “tropicalized” stamped on the bottom of a phone like this. In my experience that usually means that some kind of blue solution has been pained on many of the screw contacts, and sometimes a very fine wire mesh screen has been put over the holes in the base, presumably to keep some kind of insects out. One tricky problem sometimes found is that the handset cord appears to be in perfect condition, but you hear a crackling sound when you flex it. According to a Kellogg catalog I have, the interior conductors were originally treated with some kind of flexible shellac to make them moisture resistant. Unfortunately it didn’t stay flexible with age, and some are unusable even though there is no apparent external damage. Congrats again!

  3. Jim Pennycook Says:

    I have a Kellogg wall phone in which most of the wires are run on the back board and are covered with a wax-like substance. Does anyone know what this substance is?


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