10 Things You Didn’t Know About: Vintage Telephones

10 Things1 March 7, 1876: Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent for the telephone. It’s reported that Bell filed his patent a mere two hours before a request for a similar device was filed by Elisha Gray. This resulted in controversy and extensive legal battles. In the end, the courts recognized Bell as the official inventor of the telephone.

2 A Charles Williams Coffin Telephone, circa 1878, in a grouping, sold for $12,000, while an Ericsson Wooden Candlestick Telephone, circa 1895, sold for $9,000, to claim the top two spots in a Feb. 24-25, 2012, sale at Morphy Auctions.

3 The current Guinness World Record for the largest collection of telephones is 1,135, and is owned by Mike and Mary Phillips of Zebulon, Ga.

4 In light of a declining number of museums dedicated to niche collecting areas, there are no less than 10 active telephone museums in the U.S. today – including the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum, which is said to house the world’s largest collection of telephones and related memorabilia.

12020053_1web5 One of the very first songs with a telephone theme was “Hello! Ma Baby” released in 1899, written by Andrew B. Sterling and published in the legendary Tin Pan Alley area of New York.

6 Two of the largest active telephone collector clubs today are the Antique Telephone Collectors Association, formed in 1971, and the Telephone Collectors International (TCI) organization, which was formed in 1986.

7 Vintage phones – especially the Western Electric 203 model – are enjoying a small revival as interest in retro décor remains popular.

8 Telephone companies were among the first businesses, along with oil companies, to start using porcelain signs to advertise their services. Today those early 20th century signs are among the most sought after by collectors.

9 In addition to21117789web Western Electric, some of the big names in telephones are Kellogg Switchboard and Supply Company, Stromberg-Carlsen Telephone Manufacturing Company and the Automatic Electric Company.

10 A lot has changed in the 137 years since Bell made that first call — into the liquid transmitter — to Watson, his assistant, who was just down the hall from him. Today Bell could call Watson and enjoy a crystal clear connection whether he was down the hall or across the globe.

Compiled by Antoinette Rahn. Sources: History.com, Antique Telephone Collectors Association (www.atcaoline.com), Telephone Collectors International (www.telephonecollectors .org), Georgia Rural Telephone Museum (www.grtm.com), www.antiquetelephonehistory.com, Guinness World Records, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Morphy Auctions (www.morphyauctions.com), Modern Home Today (www.modernhometoday.com), Porcelain Signs (www.porcelainsigns.com), Antique Telephone History Website (www.antiquetelephonehistory.com).

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