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
516, 631, 934, and All Their ChildrenEast End Beacon, December 21st
In those days, Route 58 was a bunch of potato fields, the Hamptons shut down in September, and most of our parents had rotary telephones. The scary part is, that really wasn't too long ago. Back in 1999, just before the launch of the 631 area code, The...Read more
DOROTHY ROSBY: A Christmas letter to my readersRapid City Journal, December 21st
It was as though a phone virus had swept through our home striking down every phone we had except our cell phones and our ancient rotary phone. Some people might see this as a sign that it was time we become a cell-phone only home. Some probably ...Read more
Zach McDermott takes Salinas High into the futureThe Salinas Californian, December 20th
You could almost hear typewriters clicking and the ringing of rotary phones in the administration office. Students packing brown bag lunches and drinking out of milk cartons. Classrooms with overhead projectors and wooden desks with metal legs...Read more
The Many Meanings of the Hashtag (It Represents Lumber Yards on Swedish ...Slate Magazine (blog), December 17th
Unlike rotary phones, touch-tone phones allow you to continue to dial after the connection has been made, enabling the new telephone systems, such as automated menus. Additional buttons, they realized, could be handy in this regard. They settled on the ...Read more
Charlotte headhunters sell their story with a rotary phone – and a chocolate labCharlotte Observer, December 15th
Jeremy Gnozzo (center front), with his chocolate lab dog Tanner and Gnozzo's entire team with their dogs also at Search Solution Group posing under a billboard in uptown near the EpiCentre. The billboard is above Fleming's Prime Steakhouse on 210 East ...Read more
'How do you use this?!' See what happens when kids use a traditional phone for ...BT.com, December 4th
The pulse dialling system used by rotary telephones was developed – along with the automatic telephone exchange – in the 1890s by Almon Brown Strowger, an undertaker from Kansas in the US. Strowger developed an automated system after discovering ...Read more
Former Texas TV Executive s Collection of Rare Antique Telephones to be ...News-Antique.com (press release), December 1st
News-Antique.com - Dec 02,2014 - DENVER, Pa. – Peter D'Acosta, whose 25-year collection of antique candlestick phones is featured on day two of Morphy's Dec. 6-7 Fine & Decorative Arts Auction, says it was a classic American TV show that inspired him ...Read more
Kids attempt to use rotary phone, confusion ensuesCNET, March 4th
It wasn't too long ago that rotary phones and pay phones were standard ways to communicate. You'd wait for a dial tone and then make your call. And if you got a busy signal, you'd hang up the phone and try later. There was no call waiting. No texting...Read more