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Sands Electric Company telephone apparatus

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Telephones97 of 1017Vintage Hippie Folk Art Telephone, the second I have acquired!Very early erricsson phone ? Cast iron
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    Posted 3 years ago

    (835 items)

    This measures 7.5" x 3.5" x 2". My house was built in 1883 and is a time capsule of many things, especially technological curiosities. The original gas lighting fixtures are still in the lath and plastered walls, there are tin ceilings, a brick cistern is under the house, bump outs in the walls near the ceilings to a no longer used chimney for wood or coal stoves, wavy glass in windows, etc. This artifact is, I think, part of the old telephone system and, I think, was either used to ring the telephone or protect it, or both. It was mounted to one of the floor joists in my basement, connected to the old knob and tube cloth wrapped wiring which still runs all through my house, next to the modern Romex which replaced it. It was made by the Sands Electric Company which existed as early as 1890. Does anyone know exactly what the purpose was for this? I display it as a piece of mechanical art.

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    1. Toyrebel Toyrebel, 3 years ago
      Hard for me to say for sure. I don't know what's underneath the red/brown tubes. If there is a coiled wire wound object inside, then they're most likely load resistors. The only thing that high current would be a ringer. Maybe these resistors kept the coil in the bell ringer from taking too much current and the resistors would dissipate the heat. It looks like it has air holes. Are the end of the tubes open so air could flow through it?
      It might be a lightning arrestor. The end with the black cylinder has a lug beneath it. This could have been grounded so if lightning struck the wires on the telephone pole the input wires, possibly the terminals on both sides of the cylinder would have a path to ground. The high voltage in lightning seeks the shortest and best path to ground, instead of traveling through the red objects to the terminals on the other end that would go directly to the inside lines and phone it would arc to small gaps between the terminals. These gaps are possibly underneath the black cylinder. The cover would be insulated to try eliminate any other arc potentials. Without this the phone user could take a lethal voltage from a strike. I've seen later outside phone boxes have this and they had a similar cover over the arc gaps. TV antennas had similar porcelin arrestors. If the black cylinder can be removed and there are connections to all the terminals with a small gap between them, an arrestor would be my guess. If you can get a picture with the black cover removed, I could make a better determine. IF THE COVER WON'T COME OFF EASILY, DON'T FORCE IT AND BREAK THE PORCELIN!!! and destroy your show piece! It may be made to be permanently affixed to the porcelin base.
      I think it's cool looking. Old phone/electrical items had the Dr. Frankenstein lab look that is neat! Thanks for sharing
    2. Toyrebel Toyrebel, 3 years ago
      I did some Googling. I'm pretty sure it's an arrestor. Here's a link with a similar device and info on
      It has the cover removed so you can see the arc gaps.
    3. kwqd kwqd, 3 years ago
      Thanks Toyrebel! I don't know much about telephone stuff. I'm just going to leave it alone, so I don't break it....
    4. kwqd kwqd, 3 years ago
      Thanks for loving my phone thingy!

    5. kwqd kwqd, 3 years ago
      Thanks for loving my telephone apparatus, Jenni!

    6. AnythingObscure AnythingObscure, 3 years ago
      It is *absolutely* an old lightning arrestor (safety device), one of the forms of the device used during the early period of telephony. You probably found it screwed to the wall/rafters in your basement, nearby where any currently existing landline telephone wires actually enter your home. The two incoming phone line wires (from the pole) would connect to one end of this, the interior home wiring would connect to its other. Its purpose was to provide a level of protection from a potential lightning strike of a telephone pole/line, serving essentially as a "fuse/surge protector". The reddish tubes are indeed intended to be 'clipped in/out' of their terminals on the ceramic mounting blocks, should such telephone line trouble actually occur necessitating their replacement. NICE CLEAN (and complete!) unit!! :-) :-) :-)
    7. kwqd kwqd, 3 years ago
      Thanks for loving my lighting arrestor ttomtucker and AnythingObscure!

      @AnythingObscure - You are right, It was screwed into a floor joist right by where the modern wires enter the house and just below where the old land line used to be. It still had the old wires connected to either end, but they had been cut many years ago. Thanks for the information!
    8. yougottahavestuff yougottahavestuff, 3 years ago
      Call it a Lily Tomlin!!! One Ringee Dingee Two Ringee Dingee!!! Loved Laugh In!!!

      Clean Humor!!!

    9. kwqd kwqd, 3 years ago
      @yougottahavestuff - I loved that show, too..... It was kind of ballsy to poke Ma Bell at the time the show was on the air. It was still a real behemoth, then.
    10. stevo56, 1 year ago
      I have come across a phone buzzer or arrestor exactly like the item shown above. The metal cap at one end contains two clappers which may vibrate with a input of power form what ever the signal arrived from. The one I acquired was mounted high up on the back porch wall. I think it cold have been a door annunciator like what are now chimes. I am an electrician and removed the device when all the old Knob and tube wire was replaced on a job. Unfortunately I did not follow find the origin of the wires connected to it. The wires were all small gauge similar to what would have been used for a low voltage or classs 2 wiring. The wires penetrated through bore holes at ether end of the device where it was connected. I did find that the cylindrical tubes were conductive and part of the circuit. I am looking for more information on how it was wired because I think it is a door buzzer and may possibly work with door bell power and circuitry. It could also be for something else like phone buzzer to be heard form out doors because of where it was located.
    11. kwqd kwqd, 1 year ago
      Interesting, stevo56. There was a large, heavy doorbell apparatus which once hung over the arch between my living room and dining room. It had stopped being used, maybe for decades, before I moved into the house. It was large enough to be a chime setup. Pretty sure that I saved it when I took it down. I will see if I can find it and post an image on CW.
    12. kwqd kwqd, 1 year ago
      Found the doorbell assembly fairly easily and disassembled and photographed it and posted that here:

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