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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
The Telephone Archive
Clubs & Associations
- Antique Telephone Collectors Association
- Telephone Collectors International
- Telecommunications History Group
- Telecommunications Heritage Group (UK)
- Australasian Telephone Collectors Society, Inc.
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Telephones
Source: Google News
Winnipeg woman, 98, packs up a lifetime of memoriesCBC.ca, March 29th
But Carruthers is taking the print the famous painting she's had for decades with her to her new home. She got it for 50 cents during a promotion by Carnation Evaporated Milk. Some things will be left behind, like an old, black rotary phone that's...Read more
Discoveries: The Pan Am Experience a flight to the pastSacramento Bee, March 28th
A pre-boarding “Clipper Club” lounge greets “passengers,” with a check-in desk with props such as rotary phones and first-generation console desktop computers, and a wet bar featuring such '70s alcoholic mainstays as Tom Collins, Singapore Slings and ...Read more
State may change billingThe Denver Post, March 28th
"Very few decades ago, when we all used rotary phones, we could not have imagined smartphones," the state Department of Utilities said in its order. "Similarly it is difficult to imagine a world in which everyone plugs their electric cars into an...Read more
Two Strategies to Turn out to be a MillionaireChicago Daily News, March 28th
The vintage phone is optional. Photo credit: Bill Branson. Supply: National Cancer Institute, Wikimedia Commons.What does it take to grow to be a millionaire?If you strip this query of its emotional and social (and television) implications, it is...Read more
Vintage phones ring up profitsIrish Independent, March 12th
It takes you back to another century," says Neil Carpenter, who restores and sells vintage phones in London (antiquetelephones.co.uk). Despite all the changes in communication technology, the basic telephone system has changed surprisingly little...Read more
As FCC Releases Rules to Regulate Internet Like Rotary Phones, Millennials ...Shopfloor, March 12th
By applying a more than 70 year old law designed to regulate the use of rotary phones on the Internet growth in innovation and infrastructure will halt and burden manufacturers with more uncertainty. Manufacturing companies and facilities are dependent...Read more
Video Features Pajama-clad Bill Cosby Chatting on Rotary Phone! Can You Say ...Student Operated Press, March 9th
When I see the pajama-clad, septuagenarian chatting on a rotary phone, while nervously clutching his leg these are the words and phrases that come to mind: Medicated, out of touch, senile, in denial, crazy ... The disgraced comic did not mention any of...Read more
WorldToHomecom Expands Antique Telephones, Vintage Record Players ...Consumer Electronics Net, February 28th
Well-known online retailer WorldToHome.com remains a pinnacle of world-class home decor products and seeks to maintain its grandeur with new and exciting things to come. Known for their antique retro telephones and old-fashioned record players, World ...Read more