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.


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Recent News: Telephones

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Rotary gives back to local groups
Whitsunday Times, February 28th

GIVING BACK: Representatives of local businesses and beneficiaries gathered at the Rotary Club of Airlie Beach / My Whitsunday Rotary Phone Guide Beneficiary Presentations on Monday afternoon at the Reef Gateway Hotel. (From back) Steve Knox ...Read more

'Snuck a cookie? SIN! Had a fight with your sister? SIN! Didn't clean up your ...
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press, February 28th

The Scouter enjoys telling teens about rotary phones." Joy of Juxtaposition. Wednesday email from Gma Tom: "Gpa Tom claims to have had a B-M yesterday. [Bulletin Board says: We suspect a J of J -- on the theory that no one who is still watching "M*A*S...Read more

WorldToHome.com Expands Antique Telephones, Vintage Record Players ...
Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release), February 28th

Antique telephones & vintage record players remind us of simpler times, when telephone and music technology was still a budding field and more time and craftsmanship went into producing each unit. Today, landline telephones & cell phones are mass ...Read more

Fine at 49: One more trip around the sun
Montgomery Advertiser, February 27th

We grew up with rotary phones, black and white TVs that had three stations; four if the roof antenna picked up PBS. I was the remote control, as in, "Mart, turn it to Channel 12, the football game is about to start." Our cars had two bench seats, and...Read more

FCC's Open Internet rules; death to the Internet? Utah congressmen react
St George News, February 27th

The administration's decision to subject the Internet — a constantly changing, crucially important sector of our economy — to outdated regulations designed for the age of the rotary telephone will serve only to stifle innovation and discourage growth...Read more

I Played A Video Game On A Friggin' Rotary Phone
Kotaku, February 26th

At last night's Itty Bitty Bash, an event to get Chicagoans in the same room to play games, I encountered something very strange. I've fought off an alien invasion millions of times, but I've never fired my lasers by entering numbers onto a rotary...Read more

Jonathan Spalter: Mobile phones aren't rotary phones
San Jose Mercury News, February 25th

It's a sad state of affairs for U.S. innovation policy when one has to explain the reason subjecting the supercomputers in our suit pockets to regulations written for rotary phones is a bad idea. And the mobile future dims for all of us when these...Read more

Create a “Fairytale Phone” With a Raspberry Pi and a Rotary Phone
Lifehacker, February 1st

Instructables explains how to add a Raspberry Pi to the rotary phone dialer. Each number on the phone can play a different mp3 file. Kids can listen to a different "caller" at each of the 10 locations. The tip suggests fairytale characters, but you can...Read more