Rotary telephones as we are all familiar with them came onto the scene in the 1930’s. But did you know that the first rotary telephones did not ring? Those came onto the scene in 1949. Every generation from then until the late 1980’s grew up with a ringing telephone in their house.
As teenagers, my sister and I dropped the rotary dial telephone in our house countless times. This occurred during excited conversations because the phone cord just wouldn’t stretch as far as we walked away from the table it sat on.
Inevitably, the phone would make a tremendous thud accompanied by the internal bell ringing each time as it hit the floor. And each time, we would pick the phone up and place it back on the table to continue our conversations without worrying at all that the drop might have damaged our precious line to the outside world!
You see, vintage telephones are solid, well-made machines. They seem to scream, “I might be useful again someday, so hold on to me!” So, unlike toasters and blenders, that often found their way into the Salvation Army box, many people just stashed their telephones away in corners of attics and basements when they became obsolete.
We are now in the second decade of the twenty first century, the era of cell phones. Enter a new, hot rage among collectors and baby boomer nostalgia buffs: Having a vintage telephone for one’s landline at the office or at home. One can actually buy special jacks and other equipment to enable the hook-up of just about all of these vintage communication devices to modern services.
“Well, really,” you say. “How much could my old rotary or push button phone be worth?” The answer may surprise you! Even well kept traditional black rotary phones will bring at least $25. Do you have a red, pink, or orange rotary telephone? The going online auction rate for these funky colors is just over $100! What about a funky shape or theme telephone? The sky is the limit for these “collector Holy Grails!”
On Ruby Lane, an online antiques and collectibles mall, a beloved 1960’s pink, princess style, push button telephone recently sold for $195. A 1970’s doughnut shaped push button phone (normal cream color) went for $95 shortly thereafter. Just a few weeks ago, a 1930’s black Western Electric desk telephone with raised handset sold for $165.
So dust off your vintage rotary and push button phones and put them out at your next yard sale or even offer them on ebay or in your online shop if you have one! You may be pleasantly surprised at the dollars they command!