Antique telephones are unique popular collectors' items.The telephone forever changed the way humans communicate with each other, and are an important symbol in human technology and development.
History of Antique Telephones
Alexander Graham bell invented the telephone in 1876. Since then, the design and functions of the telephone have changed over time, but antique telephones remain appealing to collectors and enthusiasts.
The original telephone was usually enclosed on a wood casing and mounted on the wall and was a rather bulky contraption. In the 1920s, however, the art deco era took over and telephones became much smaller and user-friendly.
Telephones also became fashion items – often made with beautiful coloured marble or other fancy materials. Some people (usually the wealthy) even had opal or precious stone inlays; although the standard telephone from the 1920s was made of steel or brass.
Simple black desk phones began production in the 1930s and 1940s, as telephones became more common household items. In the 1950s, a new palette for telephones came in the form of Bakelite and coloured plastic telephones in colours such as orange, green and blue. Many of these rare antique telephones make for valuable collectors’ items.
Novelty telephones began to take the market by storm in the 1970s and 1980s, taking the form of popular characters, or having colourful wiring and parts.
Guide for collectors
In the last few years, genuine British Bakelite Telephones have become more collectable, and thus more expensive. These are one of the more popular collector’s items for antique telephone enthusiasts. When buying a Bakelite telephone, it is best to buy form manufacturers based in the United Kingdom (British Ericsson , Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company, Siemens Brothers, and GEC) for the best quality items.
One of the most popular manufacturers for collectors is Western Electric, who produced telephones for more than 100 years from 1872 until 1995.
The largest telephone collectors’ organisation is The Antique Collectors Association (ATCA). This organisation began in Kansas in 1971 as a non-profit corporation, The TTCA now has over a 100 members from the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia. There are also a vast range of online resources for antique telephone collectors, such as the blogs found at antiquephones.blogspot.com and retrophones.wordpress.com.
Collectibles manufacturers and models include ;
- Kellogg Antique And Vintage Telephones
- Vintage Rotary Telephones
- Antique and vintage Western Electric telephones
- Vintage Princess Phones
- Antique Vintage Stromberg Carlson Phones
- Antique And Vintage Payphones
- Wooden Wall Phones
• A vintage Skeleton Phone by Legendary "L. M. Ericsson, Stockholm", c. 1884 (with swivelling microphone, crank inductor and lightning protection) sold for $9,628 through Auction Team Breker in May 2011.
• An antique Automatic Electric Co. Upright Desk Stand Candlestick Tel was sold by the Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches, Inc. for $2,800 in August 2005.
• An Antique oak cased telephone sold for $150 through Clars Auction Gallery in July 2010. The bidding started at $50.
• An 11” tall Antique Kellogg Telephone and Oak Telephone Box sold for $95 in Julky 2004. The telephone was sold through Auctions Neopolitan, who estimated the telephone to go for $80 - $140.
Vintage and antique telephones can sell for a range of prices depending on a number of factors such a rarity, time period, and quality. However, more simple (but still beautiful) vintage telephones can be found for reasonable prices, making them accessible collectors’ items.