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
THE RESULTS ARE IN County's top election official counts last ballotDickinson County News, December 4th
The auditor's office worked with manual typewriters and a single, rotary phone when Reiman reported for her first day of work. She set up equipment at a one-room schoolhouse for voters in the Westport precinct. That building is now a museum at Kenue Park...Read more
Little free librariesThe Independent Weekly, December 4th
eBooks and online resources—The Digital Public Library of America has archived 5.3 million items—have made the act of going into a hushed, musty building to borrow a physical copy of a book quite quaint, like sending a telegram or dialing a rotary phone...Read more
How Wendy Davis can break up Texas' boys clubMSNBC, December 3rd
Republicans, however, are fighting hard to keep alive the rotary phone days with a cast of ultra conservative white males seeking to defeat Davis and her running mate. The likely GOP candidate for governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott is as...Read more
Students ditch science textbooks for traveling STEM exhibitThe Grand Rapids Press - MLive.com, December 2nd
Eleven-year-old Blaine Grimes compared today's widely-used form of communication – a cell phone – with the various shapes and sizes of telephones of days past, including the candlestick phone invented in the early 1890s, a rotary phone, a payphone and ...Read more
Pub Of The Week: Slaters Arms, BradleyYorkshire Post, November 30th
Horse brasses, jam pans, policemen's helmets, vintage telephones, ceramic jugs and paper money from all over the world fill every spare inch of shelf and beam. There's a roaring fire at one end and comfortable button red velour banquette at the other...Read more
Enter the time warpHong Kong Standard, November 30th
The uncovered relics are a series of technological products, such as movie cameras and rotary phones. The pieces were cast in crystal. A closer look shows crystal is coming out from the eroded portion. Arsham also showcases paintings of the "uncovered" ...Read more
Hilarious kid reactions to a typewriter, rotary phone and record playermyfox8.com, November 27th
Most of us can remember the old manual typewriters people used long before the laptop and iPad. However, to a 5-year-old, the typewriter is rather strange looking. WBTV's Kristen Hampton went to an elementary school near Charlotte and showed some of ...Read more
Bring Back The Rotary Phone. No More Challenges, Please.ChicagoNow (blog), November 20th
Is it just me, or is technology getting more and more challenging. It's hard to believe that rotary phones were a big challenge. I bet they didn't even come with a manual...just put your finger in the dial corresponding to the number that you want, and...Read more