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
Two flats in Kowloon Tong turned into a modern duplex for a family of fourSouth China Morning Post (subscription), April 18th
The vintage rotary telephone (£50/HK$575) came from Oliver Bonas (www.oliverbonas.com), in Britain. The sofa bed (HK$34,500) was from Ligne Roset. Master bedroom The two silver adjustable reading lamps (HK$4,896 each) and the pendant lamp ...Read more
Telstra opens private restaurant The Exchange for corporate clients, not the ...The Daily Telegraph, April 18th
And the restaurant is decked out with all the finishes of Sydney's top dining institutions; leather Chesterfield lounges, dark timber fittings and, in a nod to the telco's history, a vintage telephone on every table. In fact, the only thing it doesn't...Read more
The Public Utteration Machine Comes to Public Plazas in Queens, BrooklynBroadway World, April 17th
The piece, created in part with an antique phone speaker and ear piece, is a no-dial phone that automatically connects to a conversation prompt that asks the user about the value of public art in the city and in their specific neighborhood. Do locals...Read more
Acclaimed author Louise Erdrich creates interactive exhibitMinnesota Public Radio News, April 17th
As one woman picked up a vintage telephone and listened intently, Erdrich couldn't help but smile. "I'm so happy," she said. "I don't have to be here. People can walk in and they can pick up the phones and I can read to them while they're looking at...Read more
Ted Cruz Just Got Some Great News That Gives Him The Early Advantage For ...Western Journalism, April 17th
As the man credited for leading General Electric to record profitability during his years as chairman and CEO, 79-year-old Jack Welch continues to command attention when he shares an opinion. Recently, he appeared on Fox News' Your World with Neil ...Read more
Welcome to Unofficial SourcesThe Intercept - First Look Media, April 16th
And we'll stick up for the principle that if you're powerful and you hurt regular people, you should be held accountable, something that now seems as old-timey as a rotary telephone. We'll look for mid-level bureaucrats trying to tell the truth, and...Read more
Local Students Take on Poodle Skirts, Rotary Phones for 'Bye Bye Birdie'Virginia Connection Newspapers, April 8th
Rehearsing a scene of the mayor presenting the key to the city to Birdie are (from left) Savannah Lagana, Maxwell Leitch, Ian Stewart, Patrick Kaczmarek, Meghan Molina, Melissa Friedrich, Mychal Eichenlaub, Caleb Renaud, Zoe Kaiser, Savannah Gregory ...Read more
With Typewriters And Rotary Phones, Tech Firm Goes Analog For April Fools'WBUR, April 1st
Workers arrived on the 14th floor of Endeavour Partners' Kendall Square office building only to find rotary phones and manual typewriters where their computers used to be. A portrait of President Eisenhower looked down sternly from the wall. “I quickly ...Read more