|Here is a
closer view of the
small box telephone circa 1907
times were nothing more
than the toy you played with as a child……namely 2 cans
and a string. Pictured here are two examples of what
are called Acoustic Telephones or more commonly called
String phones. With these types of instruments,
you would have had one in your home,
and your neighbor would have had one in their home.
There would have been a taught wire stretched
between the two instruments. When you wanted to talk
to your neighbor, you would tap on the center button.
Your neighbor would hear a popping sound on their
phone. The two of you would then begin to shout at
each other into the diaphragm, because the transmission
quality was just like talking over 2 cans and a string.
On the left is a J.R.Holcomb Co. walnut String phone
The phone on the right is an 1879 AETNA string phone,
in which you could tighten the wire between houses by
pulling down on the bail handle at the bottom.
This is a very nice example of a Western
ElectricModel 293A circa 1910, with
nickel hardware and a WE Outside
Terminal ‘Pony’ receiver
American Electric provided customers a unique
transmitter application, with a mounting that
was called the ‘Swing Away’ arm. This arm
allowedthe user to adjust up and down or side
to side, the transmitter for ease of use.
Here are two nice examples of these transmitter
arms.The one on the left is an American Electric
Single box model circa 1907 with the American
Beauty Transmitter, and the one on the right is
the Double box,or 2 box version of the Swing
Away circa 1899.
To keep from violating the original Bell Telephone
patents, competitive manufacturers had to come
up with a different style of hookswitch for their
wall sets. Here are two such examples that are
referred to as ‘Paddle Phones’. Instead of having
a hookswitch where the receiver would be hung,
these types of phones used a stationary hook for
the receiver, and a paddle type switch in the
center box. The user would rest his or her
elbow on the paddle while the phone was in
operation, thus opening the line for use.
On the left is an oak Viaduct Paddle phone
circa 1898, and on the right is a walnut 3 box
American Electric Co. of Kokomo Indiana
A collection of small wall sets includes from the top a
Western Electric model 293 with a burns glass mouthpiece.
Going clockwise, the Western Electric Model 130
metal wall set referred to as the ‘Pancake, or Doughnut’
phone, complete with OST receiver, next is an 1899 Deveau
8-line set with OST receiver. Next is a Connecticut Telephone
& Electric Company Hotel set with a burns glass mouthpiece
and OST receiver, and finally a Manhattan Electric
Supply Co. compact set with a long pole receiver circa 1894.
The top two single box telephones are referred to as
the Baird Midget telephones, produced by the
Baird Electric Company circa 1905. The unit at the top left,
is a midget phone complete with American Electric hardware
(American shield cut out of the straight loop in the hookswitch)
while the unit on the top right, has the traditional Baird
hookswitch that is turned 90 degrees so that the receiver
can be hung up from the front. The lower telephone is
an American Electric Company long distance telephone
with a Burns receiver circa 1895.
Here are two examples of what are referred to as Tandem
telephones. Tandem telephones had up to 3 glass acid
cell batteries in the lower box, which were wired in tandem
to facilitate long distance applications. On the left is an
1897 Western Telephone Construction tandem telephone.
Notice the unique WTC ‘fat’ long pole receiver.
You can view a close-up of this receiver in the receiver
section from the home page. The tandem telephone on
the right is a Stromberg Carlson model 4A circa 1900.
This model is commonly referred to as the ‘Grave Marker’
telephone, due to the carved wood configuration at the top
resembling an old grave stone.
These three examples of so called Fiddleback wall telephones
were so named for their appearance. Some thought these wall set
looked like Fiddles, with the lower part of the phone being
the body of the fiddle, and the upper backboard resembling
the neck of the fiddle.
On the top left is a rare small
metal-backed Couch & Seeley circa 1903.
At the right is a Stromberg Carlson
circa 1904 with a stamped triplet set and a raised letter
transmitter. At the lower left is a Sterling Electric Co.
Model 118 circa 1905.
This grouping of wall sets were commonly referred to
as 3 box wall telephones. The top box housed the
generator (magneto) which was used to signal the operator,
the center box housed the transmitter (where you would speak
into) and the bottom box held the wet cell battery(s).
The phone to the left is a walnut Manhattan 3 box circa
1895, with a Hunnings style transmitter, single cell battery
box and a long pole receiver. The phone at the lower
center is a Manhattan 3 box with a 2 cell battery box,
and the phone to the right is a walnut Mianus 3 box with
a Blake style transmitter circa 1898
These telephones are called compact 2 box set, as they
are about 2/3 the size of a regular 2 box telephone.
The set on the left is a Mianus Compact set with
a watchcase receiver circa 1900.
The set on the right is a Manhattan Electric Co. circa 1901.
Something a little different. The two fiddleback telephones
on top of the picture are made by the same manufacturer,
but the spelling of the name of the company was changed.
The phone of the upper left, is a Vought-Berger Company
of Lacrosse WI. oak fiddleback with a mark Vought-Berger
transmitter circa 1904, while the phone on the upper right is a
Vote-Berger Company of Lacrosse WI., oak fiddleback
circa 1905. The fiddleback in the lower center position is an
L.M. Ericsson Telephone Manufacturing set, circa 1907,
with the small diameter marked Ericsson transmitter.
This particular set was boasted in advertising as the
‘first, all-steel telephone to be placed on the market.
The final wall phone picture contains 3 Western Electric Co.
wall instruments. On the left is a walnut model 301 fiddleback
telephone equipped with wooden bells made of walnut,
and a replica Red Cross glass mouthpiece manufactured
by John Infurna. The phone on the right is a walnut Model 288
fiddleback, fitted with an OST receiver and an original
Whisper-it glass mouthpiece. In the lower center position
is a model of telephone referred to as a 3 jug. This reference
comes from the fact that the battery box at the bottom
of the phone contains 3 glass acid cell batteries, which were
wired in series. This phone is also equipped with a
#5 transmitter arm and OST receiver.