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
The W Amsterdam Takes Over Historic Telephone ExchangeCondé Nast Traveler, August 3rd
For the guest rooms, W commissioned popular Dutch street artist Parra to create murals celebrating quirky elements of Dutch life: For example, an old rotary phone appears on a pair of legs as a homage to the building's history. Pillows feature a local ...Read more
What's wrong with our nuclear phonesPolitico, August 3rd
As important as it is, the whole system was built decades ago, on a base of technology from the days of tailfins and rotary phones. The backbone of the communications system was installed around 1960 and received its last major upgrade in the mid-1980s ...Read more
Pollsters Worried FCC Chairman Doesn't Care If They Go Out Of BusinessHuffington Post, August 3rd
The FCC's latest decision to reaffirm the rule has left many opponents concerned that the interpretation is so broad that only a rotary phone could be used to dial cell phones now, and pollsters say they're unsure how to contact cell phones in a legal...Read more
Georgia's 9 wackiest museumsAccess Atlanta, August 3rd
(Leslie) Long before iPhones and Androids were around, telephones hung from our kitchen walls and lived on the dining room tables. See the largest collection of antique telephone and telephone memorabilia in the world, with collections dating back to 1876...Read more
Retracing Cole Hamels' steps through his woesome 2009 seasonThe Good Phight, August 3rd
Nevertheless, people broke their fingers dialing obsolete rotary phones to have their voice heard on talk radio. They learned how to use their computers so they could leave vicious, misinformed comments on the internet. And if you stopped any of them...Read more
Preserving PrimitivesKWQC-TV6, August 3rd
MERCER COUNTY, Ill. (KWQC) – It's tucked away in a small section of Mercer County. Not far from Aledo. Walk along the lane at Ronn Dillavou's place and you will discover that past meets present. A place which is home to antique corn planters and shellers...Read more
Parental Choice 2.0American Spectator, August 3rd
Charter and voucher programs were the rotary telephones of the parental choice movement — an awesome technology that did one amazing thing. Education Savings Accounts are the smartphones of choice programs — they still do that one thing well, but ...Read more
THE SCRIBBLER: Dialing back to days of rotary phones, exchangesLancasterOnline, July 17th
Born in 1949, I grew up with dial telephones and party lines. In addition, as I understand it, the first two numbers of telephone numbers related to letters of the name assigned to the telephone exchange that routed calls for a given area. For instance...Read more