Posted 10 years ago
I've had some great finds in the past few years. But in terms of sheer excitement, finding a half dozen art deco telephones in mint condition, still in the original shipping boxes, that had been hidden away in some dustry warehouse before I was born - its hard to beat that.
Above are four pictures that will give you a little taste of what I experienced. I saw a vendor selling one of these phones - he had taken it out of the box - and asked him if he had more. Turned out he had a bunch, all still in the original sealed boxes. "My friend found them in a warehouse where they'd been sitting for a long time" he said.
The Kellogg Mastephone line is one of the most artfully designed series of phones ever designed - in the 1920s. They were manufactured up through the 1940s. The above phones are the model 925 or so-called 'ashtray' model (the cups where the handset rests look somewhat like ashtrays). Some had dials, but these are extension phones.
Turns out the US military used these phones, and was shipping them out to the Pacific Theatre during WWII. Apparently my phones never made it out of the U.S. - the war ended, and some operations person just put them back in storage in their boxes for future use - in 1945. Kind of like the end of Indiana Jones.
Exactly 60 years later - 2005 - I bought them. I still have four unopened, and maybe will keep them that way! I sold two on eBay. In an interesting psychological experiment, I opened one and took pictures so the buyer could see the goods. I advertised the other as closed-box, 'you're buying whatever you find inside.' But then I linked the two auctions to each other so people could see they were from the same batch. I wanted to know which would bring the most money. They sold within $5 of each other, to two different buyers as I recall. Go figure.