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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Day of labor, day of rest
The Wilton Bulletin, August 30th

Not everyone bought into the idea. Fashion icon Coco Chanel didn't give a hoot about the rule and made white a permanent part of her wardrobe. With white gloves gone the way of the rotary phone, fashion came up with a color called winter white, giving ...Read more

Vintage Vault showcases yesterday's treasures in downtown Allen Park
Southgate News Herald, August 29th

As a collector for more than 20 years, Tandy Thomas has turned her treasure trove into a new resale business, called The Vintage Vault, in downtown Allen Park. The shop features a wide variety of décor, including rotary telephones, old cameras, vintage ...Read more

As Above, So Below
Cinema Blend, August 29th

The group hears the ringing of an antique telephone, despite the fact that they are hundreds of feet below Paris. Scarlett answers, and the decrepit voice on the other end calls her name. That was scary. The rest of As Above, So Below is a 93-minute...Read more

Scott Reeder: Nostalgic for rotary telephone and a simpler time
Kankakee Daily Journal, August 29th

Scott Reeder: Nostalgic for rotary telephone and a simpler time. Story · Comments · Image (1). Print: Create a hardcopy of this page; Font Size: Default font size: Larger font size. Previous Next. rotary_phone. ...Read more

Nostalgic for rotary phone, simpler time
The Herald-News, August 26th

It's what's called a rotary phone.” She gave it another skeptical look and walked away. Yes, when I dial, I actually dial. An hour or so later when my wife got home from work, she also gave it a bewildered look and said, “Why did you install that old...Read more

Reeder: Nostalgic for rotary phone, simpler time
Northwest Herald, August 26th

She gave it another skeptical look and walked away. Yes, when I dial, I actually dial. An hour or so later when my wife got home from work, she, too, gave it a bewildered look and said, “Why did you install that old thing? It doesn't even have caller...Read more

What the First 10000 Digits of Pi Sound Like Dialed on a Rotary Phone
Motherboard, August 12th

Another day, another slice of pi. This time it's the first 10,000 digits of everyone's favorite irrational number, as expressed by the mechanical churn of a rotary phone. There is an aching, Sisyphean creep to it. I imagine this is what Archimedes...Read more

Decorating With Vintage Phones
Wall Street Journal, August 8th

QUITE LITERALLY a conversation piece, a vintage phone dials back to an era when household gadgets were made to last roughly forever. And today, when ineloquent, on-the-go texting rules our lives instead of civilized chatting on the horn, it pays to ...Read more