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
101 Year Old WeathermanWTAJ, July 25th
ON HIS ROTARY PHONE... HENDRICKSON: "Yeah, Bridgehampton." (27:25) NARR: TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: HENDRICKSON: "The sky is clear. The wind is out of the Southwest." NARR: WHEN HENDRICSKON STARTED RECORDING ...Read more
Table tennis, rotary phones: Hotel Zed revives retro chic in VictoriaCTV News, July 15th
VICTORIA— When was the last time you played table tennis at a hotel? Or spent time in a hotel lobby listening to vinyl records on a state-of-the-art turntable while lounging in a purple chair that could easily accommodate a small family? When have you...Read more
MTS exhibit to showcase vintage phonesBrandon Sun, July 12th
It's clunky, heavy and you can't use it to send a text message — but this telephone is explosion proof. A new exhibit at Brandon General Museum and Archives showcases the history of Manitoba Telecom Services, including a number of vintage phones...Read more
Victoria's new Hotel Zed goes back to the futureCBC.ca, July 9th
the homage to 1960s home decor, the rooms come with state-of-the-art Wi-Fi equipment that transmits what's on your phone, tablet or laptop to the room's 40-inch TVs. There's also step-by-step instructions on the proper use of the room's rotary phones...Read more
Victoria Hotel Zed Goes Retro, Like Rotary Phones RetroHuffington Post Canada, July 8th
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/07/08/victoria-hotel-zed_n_5563139.html?1404855648" target="_blank">Hotel Zed</a> in Victoria, B.C. features a 1967 VW shuttle van, rotary phones and other very retro highlights...Read more
Everything old is new again, even rotary phonesParksville Qualicum Beach News, July 8th
The pimply-faced kid in the backwards-facing ball cap shows up to fix my laptop, taps a couple of keys, shrugs and says “It's dead. You probably need to replace it.” Yes. Of course. It's almost six years old. A total fossil. This is my fourth — or...Read more
Table tennis, rotary phones, funky furniture at Victoria's Hotel ZedEdmonton Journal, July 7th
VICTORIA — When was the last time you played table tennis at a hotel? Probably never. Or spent time in a hotel lobby listening to vinyl records on a state-of-the-art turntable while lounging in a purple chair that could easily accommodate a small family?...Read more
Kids React to Rotary Phones: How Do You Dial?!?The Hollywood Gossip, July 1st
What are these holes for? What is this so heavy? Why does this look nothing like my iPad?!? In the following video, a handful of kids are given a rotary phone and asked to do the most basic function with this ancient item: dial. Not as easy as it...Read more