Antique phones are a reminder of a bygone era. The first phones manufactured for the public were wooden wall phones, after Alexander Graham Bell's invention in 1876. Today, people search for phones in specific colors or that have certain design elements. Antique wall phones are considered the most valuable, and some are better than others when it comes to design and value. The best antique wall phones were made from wood; most notably, walnut wood.
The coffin telephone, made from 1879 on, used the Watson polarizing ringing system. There was a magneto crank on the outside of the box, which sparked the mechanism inside the phone. There were also two call bells on the top, with an automatic switch hook below the crank to transfer between talking and calling. This phone ran on a Blake transmitter and a wet-cell battery.
One of the earliest phones was called a "three boxer," from 1880. It was made by a contract manufacturer named Charles Williams, who worked with Alexander Graham Bell to produce his early phones. This phone has an upper box with the magneto crank (used to signal the operator), the middle block was used to store the Blake transmitter and the lower box was used to hold liquid batteries. This phone was considered hi-tech in its time.
Triple-Wide Three Box
The triple-wide three box wall phone from 1882 is considered rare because it has a double band, long-pole receiver. It was made from walnut, the finest wood used for old phones, and had a Blake transmitter and magneto crank.
Coin Collector Wall Phones
One of the most highly collectible of the vintage wall phones are those that have attached coin collectors. Pay money phones would have depended on the location they were placed, but these early phones are sought after by today's collectors, for they were the first pay phones with attached coin collectors on the side of the phone body. A rare model would be the two-box tandem, which was made of oak, and had a Baird cent lever action coin collector mounted on the top of the phone.
McKinley Figure 8
The McKinley Figure 8 phone is made from carved oak wood, with a cast iron triplet, and came with a porcelain mouthpiece. This phone was highly decorative, and also of historical significance: It was made after President McKinley was shot, on Sept. 6, 1901. These phones were manufactured after a similar model was apparently used to call an ambulance for the president.
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