The Kellogg Switchboard and Supply Company was founded in 1897 by Milo G. Kellogg after Alexander Graham Bell's telephone patents expired in 1893 and 1894. Primarily a manufacturer of equipment for independent telephone companies, Kellogg was known for its superior switchboard technology and beautifully designed Art Deco phones of the 1930s and '40s. The company competed with Western Electric and the Bell System before being absorbed into ITT in 1951.

Like Bell, Kellogg was a voracious inventor, with about 150 patents to his name (125 of them were granted on October 17, 1899). His company ’s first magneto-powered phone was a wood, wall-mounted two-boxer, whose pressed-steel arm was designed to position the phone’s transmitter at mouth height. By the early 1900s, oak Kellogg phones were being integrated into matching tables so the devices would literally become a part of a home’s furnishings.

Standard, single-box phones followed and were produced until the early 1920s. Concurrently, Kellogg also made candlestick models such as the Desk Stand 15D and 16D. But Kellogg differentiated itself from its competitors in 1905, when it introduced the No. 1 Microphone telephone, the first U.S. telephone to integrate a transmitter and receiver in a single handset. Preceding the Western Electric A1 by 20 years, the Microphone was eventually renamed the GrabAPhone, and by 1911, the handles of these handsets were sheathed in Bakelite, which Kellogg called Kellite.

In the 1930s, the GrabAPhone was replaced by the Masterphone, which ditched the GrabAPhone’s old-fashioned French style handset and cradle for a molded, streamline-moderne look. Made of Kellite, the Masterphones in the 600 and 700 desk and wall series were sold with or without dials, in full-size or “space-saver” models. At the same time, Kellogg also made wall phones and candlestick phones with separate transmitters and receivers. Like the Masterphones, these more traditional, low-cost styles were available with or without dials.

After World War II, Kellogg’s most distinctive phone was the Art Deco-style Redbar, so named for the bright red bar that activated a switch when the handset was lifted from, or returned to, its cradle. In 1954, three years after Kellogg was purchased by ITT, the company produced its own version of the Western Electric 500, as well as wall phones that aped Western Electric models. By 1965, the Kellogg brand was dropped entirely.


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