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Fabulous Phones – Blasts from the Past! (Go ahead, call your mother)

Chuck Palahniuk once said: “People used what they called a telephone because they hated being close together and they were scared of being alone”. Nowadays the same sentiment could be applied to Facebook and other social websites (in a tongue-in-cheek manner, of course). However, if you are going to make a call from a home line (those of you who still have it), you might as well do it in style:


(Ericofon telephones from Ericsson, 1961 – images via)

Some of these vintage cool-looking phones are perfectly styled to call your grandmother… It is not the intention of this article to cover every single unusual or interesting antique telephone available to view online, but hopefully you’ll enjoy taking a look at a few of these wonderful retro examples here at Dark Roasted Blend.

We’ll start with a Timeless classic: Black 332 Bakelite Telephone from the 1950s England… First introduced in the UK in 1932, the 332 Bakelite telephone remained in production until 1959 (gaining in popularity after the advent of “Matrix” movies):


(image credit: AntiquePhones)

This is the classic British Bakelite Telephone, the first of their kind to be used in the UK. These 200 series telephones were mostly made in the 1940s, however the GPO, the suppliers of all phones in the UK back in those days, supplied them between 1929 and 1957. Most telephones were black, but could you could occasionally get ivory ones, although red and green versions were very rare.

The most popular British Bakelite telephones were the 300 series, the first UK Bakelite phones with an internal bell. This colour was very rarely seen, however:


(image credit: AntiquePhones)

This trimphone looks like it dates from the seventies, although phones like this first appeared in the mid sixties:



(images via 1, 2)

This type of candlestick telephone was common from around 1900 until the early thirties:



(images via 1, 2, 3)

This rare Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee phone was manufactured in 1977:


(image credit: The Old Telephone)

This one was probably a clear favourite with some people:


(image credit: AntiquePhones)

“Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.” — Ambrose Bierce

Here is a pretty attractive designer line from the Western Electric, around 1974 (see the whole lineup here):


(images via Porticus)

These days, we often get offered free cell phones in exchange for signing up for contracts. Back in 1983 the first ever handheld mobile phone was introduced and the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was priced at an incredible $3,995. Amazing how far technology has advanced and how much cheaper mobile phones are now in comparison:


(image via)

It looked like a brick, so is it any wonder that a LEGO brick version was eventually made? (significantly cheaper than the original $4000 version) –


(image credit: Bruce Lowell)

How about this Ericofon telephone from Ericsson in Sweden dating from 1961? –


(image credit: Gerson Lessa)

The Grillo Telephone from 1966 was apparently the first flip-flop phone (Designed by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper in 1964/66 for Societa Italiana Telecomunicazioni Auso – Siemens):


(image credit: Gerson Lessa)

The Starlite telephone shown here was manufactured in Brazil in 1978, but is based on American designs from the mid sixties:


(images credit: Gerson Lessa, 2)

On the right image above you see one of the older car phones: the RF-4900 series, made by the Harris Corporation.

This very odd looking model is a Webcor ZIP Jumbo Button Telephone, from Hong Kong in the 1980s:


(image credit: Gerson Lessa)

This 1967 French office telephone had three lines and could operate twelve extensions and even had an extra receiver (it was used by secretaries or personal assistants):


(image credit: Jeffery Abdullah-Whyte)

Here’s another Ericofon, this time from 1963 (left image below):


(image credit: Jeffery Abdullah-Whyte, Retro on 8th)

Right image above: The Genie was an American Telephone Corp design commonly seen from the late 1960s to early 1980s. It has a touch tone dial manufactured in the same style as the old rotary phones.

The glass attachment on the mouthpiece of this 1904 telephone was designed to prevent the spread of disease (left image below). Shown on the right, this desk phone dates from 1927:


(images credit: Imprint)

This 1938 model became renowned as the Lucy Phone after it was used extensively on the TV show ‘I Love Lucy’ (right image). The one on the left (used in the forties, fifties and sixties) was commonly referred to as an exterior use telephone:


(images credit: Imprint)

Some pretty cute and colorful exterior vintage phones were seen on display in Tokyo:


(image credit: Shinsuke ODA)

This cool retro-styled telephone is also sold in Japan (buy it here):


(image via)

The Telstar phone from the seventies and eighties was offered with either a traditional dial or as a pushbutton version:


(images credit: Imprint)

This unusual looking telephone was used underground in mines, complete with insulation to prevent sparks from igniting natural gas:


(images credit: Imprint)

And the, of course, there are sheep sculptures made out of rotary phones… Why? Well, no one should really ask this question when it concerns art. These are Jean-Luc Cornec’s Sheep Sculptures from the Museum of Telecommunication in Frankfurt:


(image via)

As someone who actually used to design cell phones (including one on this very page), I found this Collection very entertaining. How many did you own?

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