You Can’t Use these Old Phones to Call Your iPhone

But still, for some reason, you wish they could.

Antique A. G. Bell Wall Telephone

Antique A. G. Bell Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €22,000

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €22,000

Imagine that a wise voice from the past, a family’s wisdom, could be heard coming straight and direct from your kindly Grandmother or a Great Grandfather; without the whispering interruptions of time to distort it. These old phones, though they can’t function like an iPhone or any other smart phone for that matter, are in every way as interesting as a modern phone, though when you examine either as a metaphor, you find that both represent something dramatically different about our assumptions about the beauty of mass communications.

Because I am still a romantic at heart, I imagine that the voices of the past, that might have spoken through a wall phone like the one above, still have something to teach me, beyond the cautions and preaching of severe or pinched nosed ancestors.

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,500

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,500

There is nothing portable about most of these old phones. They will not fit into your pocket or purse, they cannot store your photos, contacts, or play a movie.

And yet, and oh no, just maybe … we have drifted too far away from wired technology, or just a bit too far away from the idea that a voice can actually travel a strand of wire from one city to another. That’s a different concept of connection, one with far fewer intermediaries. Sign me up for that data plan!

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €4,000

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €4,000

Even in their day, these phones were not common. You could go into a hundred different peoples homes and never see one - these beauties were rare. You might have to hitch up the families wagons and get on down to town to find one, and then wait in line to get a chance to use it – or perhaps there was a neighbor who lived a few streets over from you who had a phone, but before asking them,  you would have to think about it, was the call important enough to bother a neighbor with … perhaps a letter would suffice.

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €990

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €990

Wall art? A statement of status? Proof of savvy, and a symbol that the person who owned one of these phones was sophisticated? In these regards times haven’t changed much, the person buying one of these incredible phones way back when, was all that, just like any early adopter of technology is.

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone Sold by Morphy Auctions for $425

Sold by Morphy Auctions for $425

Buy an antique wall telephone, and then what?

Remember, that’s what you’re going to do. Remember. And if a phone like this was made long before your time, then imagine, you’re going to imagine the lives of the people who had to interact with them for the very first time.

I am guessing that anyone who used one of these phones for the first time way back when, was in for a clumsy experience.

We are children of technology, we encounter it everyday, we are not so terrorized by it, at least most of the time. But in the early 1900′s many people must have been shy or humble while stiffly speaking into a telephone.  And then to hear someone speak back to them from across the country, that must have seemed miraculous in the extreme.

Antique Siemens & Halske Telefone Telephone

Antique Siemens & Halske Telefone Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €700

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €700

These old phones, like any of the other relics we antiques dealers dust off from time to time and offer for sale, are complex story containers.  It is not just a phone people, it’s the very real advancement of the telegraph, and it’s not just that either. It’s reach. It’s expansion. It’s the tempering of the land. It’s the call into and out of the wild…the listening to, the echos of time.

To speak into a phone on one side of the country in 1920, way across to the other side of the country, was almost, but not quite like time travel; magical.

Antique Swedish Field Telephone

Antique Swedish Field Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,600

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,600

Mass communications has many benefits and a few drawbacks. The biggest drawback seems to be a shortening of time. Better and faster forms of communications have left us less time to communicate, which is strange, because we are interacting with each other more and more, and at greater and greater speeds, but retaining less and less of the whole interaction.

Phone conversations, take more time than emailing or text messaging does; people are speaking on the phone less, which is a shame when you think about it. The voice of your friend or colleague carries so much more information about their mood and temper than a text or an email will ever accomplish.

Antique Wall Telephone

Antique Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €5,200

 Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €5,200

I appreciate these old phones for the way they present a society long since past – how people saw the world, how they interacted with each other, and how these phones set up a chain of events that eventually lead to better and faster forms of communications – the computer for instance.

We have far more potential than ever before to communicate with each other, so let us do so, but just a bit more carefully, taking time to listen, after all listening is more than 50% of communication.

Antique Wico Wall Telephone

Antique Wico Wall Telephone Sold by Rich Penn Auctions for $450

 Sold by Rich Penn Auctions for $450

The antique wall telephones above are from the late 1899′s to the early 1900′s.

 

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"


Liquidating an Estate Book Crop

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>