The History of Antique Telephones

In the year 1876, a man by the name of Alexander Graham Bell would forever change how we communicate with each other. Mr. Bell invented the telephone, a device by which people could talk to each other from long distances. A Crude and antique telephone by today's standards, but high tech for the day! Since that time, the telephone itself has changed many times over, but the appeal of the original antique telephones of old has still stayed strong. When the telephone became widely used, it was originally mounted on the wall, and usually the casing was made of wood. The phones were rather large and bulky, but by the 1920 s the art deco era had taken over, and this affected how telephones looked as well. 

The development of the telephone was in constant motion, and the phones of the 1920s were much smaller and easier to use. They were often made of beautiful materials such as different colored marble. Some even had inlays made of opal or other precious stones, although these were usually only owned by the more wealthy families. The standard 1920 s era phone was usually made of brass or steel, but was much smaller than the wooden wall phones of old, and could easily be placed on a desk or table. In Europe, old telephones of this era often took a more decadent stand, and were made of things like gold and ivory, particularly the French telephones of this time period. By the 1930s and 1940s, Western Electric along with many other manufacturers began mass producing simple black desk and wall phones. By this time, telephones were becoming a more popular fixture in homes for everyone, not just the rich.

The "atomic" era of old telephones...

The atomic era of the 1950s began a new telephone revolution. The use of colored plastics and bakelite gave way to an entire new palette for telephones. Colors such as blue, orange, and green were used to make telephones, and new and unusual styles were also being developed. Some of the Swedish model phones were all one piece, with the rotary dial located in the bottom, and the speakers all in one handset. Today, these stylish antique telephones are rare and worth a nice sum of money. They were usually called an Ericofon, and were a huge hit with people during that time. It is a little known fact that touch tone dialing was first used and invented in Baltimore, Maryland in 1941. One can imagine the popularity of the touch tone method for telephones in the following years to come, although the service was not officially released to the public until 1961. For large businesses with a lot of lines, the switchboard was commonly used. This device had several lines in one unit, and an operator would manually plug in the line to which the phone call belonged, so that the person could communicate from the other end. Switchboards were often seen in a large number of old movies. In the 1960s, phones were typically hung on the wall in the kitchen, and were usually the rotary style. These simple yet useful devices came in a broad range of colors, mostly pastel, such as turquoise, pink, and yellow. This phone is still a common sight today, although certain manufacturer s models are more rare and hard to find.

Collectible Novelty Telephones...

By the 1970s and 1980s, novelty telephones began to take over the market by storm. Clear, see through telephones with colorful parts and wiring were a huge hit in the 80s, as well as phones shaped like characters such as Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, or Garfield. Some of these phones, if found in good working order, are also worth money today. Telephones have certainly evolved over the years. With the new modern marvels of technology such as miniature sized cell phones, PDAs, and Bluetooth headsets, it s no wonder the antique telephones of old have held such an appeal. As time goes by and technology marches forward, these original, unique communications devices become more precious, making them a very important piece of our history.