Ever long for the simpler days of phones, before you had to choose between countless available devices, pick a data plan and download a bunch of apps if you wanted to get anything done?
A treasure trove of vintage historic telephone and communications gear hitting the auction block next month will dial you back to the 20th century.
Among the 400-plus lots up for grabs at the Verizon Telephone Pioneers Museum Collection Auction is President Dwight D. Eisenhower's phone from his summer White House in Newport, Rhode Island. It's made from green plastic, with the words "Bell System" and "Made by Western Electric" etched behind the cradle. No, you can't text from it.
A couple of wooden phone booths from around 1940 that would make perfect superhero changing rooms are also up for auction, as are original plank boards from Alexander Graham Bell's lab, Western Electric vintage telephone switchboards, several desk rotary phones that didn't belong to presidents, charming wall phones from 100 years ago, a selection of phone cables from the '60s, and reflective signs for Bell Atlantic and New England Telephone.
"No matter how much you see in this business, you come across things every day that amaze," said Kevin Bruneau, president of Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers, which is overseeing the auction. "How often do you get to hold the first-ever call box installed in the Yukon for gold miners?"
The items come from two regional chapters of the Telephone Pioneers of America Museum: the William J. Denver chapter #20 museum in Providence, Rhode Island, and the Excelsior Chapter #98 in Buffalo, New York. Telephone Pioneers of America, a network of current and retired telecommunications employees, was founded in 1911.
Verizon isn't associated with the auction, company spokesman Robert Varettoni said via email Friday.
Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers is based in Cranston, Rhode Island. The in-person version of the auction starts there on Saturday, Aug. 4. at 8 a.m. ET with bidding available online and via app as well. Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted.
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