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
What do you miss most about your childhood?The Racquet, April 16th
Not iPhones, but rotary phones; no Xbox Kinect, but Nintendo 64; no Teen Mom, but TRL. Our childhoods will be known as the last summers when we spent the whole day outside instead of glued to smartphones. We weren't tweeting and taking selfies...Read more
Physicians as Economic Powerhouses and Tech LaggardsHealthLeaders Media, April 16th
Perhaps it was part of a package deal that came with a beeper, a mimeograph, and a rotary phone. At many physicians' offices patients still have to fill out paper forms and medical histories every time they go for an office visit. Take-out pizza joints...Read more
Kids' Perplexed Reactions to Walkmans Will Make You Feel OldABC News (blog), April 16th
Their reactions, although a bit discouraging to the older folks watching, are on par with the Fine Brothers' other viral hit they released highlighting kids' responses to a rotary telephone, which has nearly 5 million views on YouTube. Tune in for more...Read more
Even in the digital age, what's old is new again for someCharlotte Observer, April 16th
Lynne Joyrich is a professor of modern culture and media at Brown University, but she has a fondness for mid-20th-century devices, such as rotary phones. “I keep them because they are very beautiful,” she said of her collection of vintage phones...Read more
Nurse Jane went to Hawaii and left the plot behindHamilton Spectator, April 16th
On the desk there's a vintage telephone in a tangerine shade. A classic typewriter, the sort writers used in 1980, is there, too. Such physical trappings capture perfectly the time zone of Stratton's play. Vivien and Edgar Chisholm are looking forward...Read more
Dick Polman: Real voter fraud is curbing the right to voteJanesville Gazette, April 15th
But the GOP has lurched so far rightward in the last eight years that '06 seems as distant as the era of rotary phones. And while today's House GOP leaves the VRA gutted, eight of the 15 states formerly under Justice supervision have predictably rushed...Read more
Phone Tutorial Video is a Trip Down Memory LaneNew Jersey 101.5 FM Radio, April 9th
A listener sent in this video above and its worth taking the time to watch, if for nothing else to laugh that someone actual made a tutorial on how to use a rotary phone. The video will take you on a walk down memory lane and give you a laugh for the...Read more
Dial N for Nostalgia – but rotary phones still work just fineNashua Telegraph, April 6th
Recently I called a local company and was startled to hear voice mail begin with this once-familiar phrase: “If you have a touch-tone phone, press 1 now.” Years ago, you'd hear that phrase all the time as the telephone ecosystem shifted from dials to...Read more