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
FCC should unlock savings for cable consumersThe Boston Globe, February 9th
which is pushing its own fiber-optic system, and sells the popular Chromecast Internet-streaming device. But the trade group's argument smacks of desperation. Cable-box rentals are a throwback to the days when people leased rotary phones from Ma Bell...Read more
This is Sydney's Hottest Neighborhood Right NowTravel+Leisure, February 9th
The design quirks, such as a rotary phone that plays recordings of poetry when the receiver is lifted, haven't alienated the “Chippo” residents. On a late weekday afternoon, two burly construction workers in bright reflective vests were at the bar...Read more
Telephone museum offers Valentine's Day visitLincoln Journal Star, February 9th
The Frank H. Woods Telephone Pioneer Museum will host a special Valentine's Day visit Sunday, 1-4 p.m., at 2047 M St. Visitors can enjoy cookies and treats while browsing the collection of vintage telephones and associated artifacts, and be amused by...Read more
Public Works: La Venencia's Charming GritTorontoist, February 9th
There's an ancient rotary phone screwed into the wood on the lower half of the wall and the plaster that starts at chest height and runs up and along the ceiling is stained a rich, streaky golden tobacco brown. Despite being just a 15 minute walk from...Read more
Social Studies: Activate Sports' Jim DelaneySportsBusiness Daily (subscription), February 9th
Delaney said “they literally put us in a room with a couple phone books and some old rotary phones.” Inside sales methods today, he said, “aren't much more advanced than back in those days.” SOCIAL SNAPSHOT Must-follow:The whole social community ...Read more
The Future of e-CommerceSupply & Demand Chain Executive, February 8th
($136.42) exceeded desktop users' AOV ($134.06) for the first time, while smartphone users spent $121.06 per order, an increase of 4.3 percent. None of this means brick-and-mortar stores are destined to join rotary phones as quaint relics of a...Read more
To Get Customers Acclimated To Rotary Telephones, Theaters Played This PSAGizmodo India, February 2nd
Telephones got their start in the late nineteenth century, connected through exchanges. In the early twentieth century, however, Bell introduced a new dial system, and needed to tell callers how to use it. The new rotary telephones were a major...Read more
To Get Customers Acclimated To Rotary Telephones, Theatres Played This PSAGizmodo Australia, February 2nd
Eventually, the rotary phone was overtaken with touch-tone phones, beginning in the 1970s. It's interesting to see just how phones have changed, and how people had to become acclimated to their use after their deployment. This video could be useful...Read more