People started collecting phones shortly after Alexander Graham Bell patented them in 1876. Some of those early handmade wood telephones from the 1880s (e.g. those marked Charles Williams Jr. or American Bell) are among the most prized finds for telephone collectors.

Collectible antique and vintage telephones basically fall into three groups. Wood wall phones, which were produced from 1876 up through World War II, have lost much of their appeal (except those earliest models) as few collectors still remember growing up with them. Candlestick phones, produced from the 1890s through the 1920s, are still in great demand, especially the earliest turn of the century nickel-plated models.

Desk sets, including most phones after 1930, are the bulk of the hobby today, and range from early 1920s models with ringer boxes to the groovy 1960s and 70s Ericofon, Princess and Trimline models. The most commonly found phones are rotary dial models such as the Western Electric 202s (1930s), 302s (1940s-50s), and 500 sets (1960s and 70s).

While Western Electric is the big name for many American collectors, makers like Automatic Electric, Kellogg Switchboard and Supply, Stromberg Carlson and others are also in high demand. Many telephone collectors also focus on related items such as telephone signs and switchboards.


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Recent News: Telephones

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Album Reviews: From Blues to Bluegrass and Rock to Rockabilly
The Morton Report (blog), May 2nd

Sometimes, such as on Whitener's “You Can Never Go Home Again,” they sound like Appalachian heirs to traditional bluegrass and country outfits; Jay Friedman's charming “Rotary Phone,” meanwhile, is a bit redolent of pop vocal groups from the 1940s; ...Read more

The Country Life: Antique store on Colorado prairie has an intriguing history
Colorado Springs Gazette, May 2nd

Arcade games. Neon signs. Comic book memorabilia. A tangle of rotary phones. And lots of nautical items, as evidenced by the pelicans standing guard outside. "We just happened on a deal 10 years ago where we bought out a nautical store down in the Gulf ...Read more

Triby review: Alexa transforms a silly gadget into a family-oriented digital ...
TechHive, May 2nd

The pair on the left side resemble old-fashioned rotary telephones. You can program each of these with a phone number for one-touch VoIP calls. They won't need to remember phone numbers, and you won't need to give them cell phones or pay for a land ...Read more

Burt Katz, owner of Burt's Place pizzeria in Morton Grove, dies
Patch.com, May 1st

The pizza-maker was known for his larger-than-life?but sometimes prickly?personality, as well as his throwback approach of running his business, taking orders by hand on a rotary phone with no computers or credit-card machines. But it was Katz's...Read more

Mother's Day and brunch, history and tradition
Sacramento Bee, April 29th

Some women in the '50s and '60s already were doing the equivalent, though it then involved rotary phones. The restaurant brunch grew as a concept during the mid-20th century because female office workers who weren't combining two Sunday meals into ...Read more

#TBT: 8Pen Keyboard Wants to Reinvent the Way You Type
Droid Life (press release) (blog), April 28th

We all know what a keyboard looks like and how it operates. It's been the same experience for decades, but a few years ago, the makers of the 8Pen keyboard app looked to drastically change everything you knew about typing on your smartphone. The app ...Read more

Are High-Tech Hotels Alluring—or Alienating?
Wall Street Journal, April 28th

But it's the vintage tech that sets the Zed apart. Rooms come with working rotary telephones (there's an instructional video on the hotel's website). The business center is outfitted with typewriters, and the shuttle buses that transport you into the...Read more

His View: Why can't I have my rotary phone back?
Moscow-Pullman Daily News, April 5th

I remember its rounded, shiny black plastic about the size of a milk carton; its rotating disk centered at the top stared back like a tempting penny arcade. It was positioned a head taller than me so I had to look up to see our home phone. It was...Read more