Telephone Signs

I collect Bell System signs with the 1921 Bell Logo.
These signs were manufactured and used between 1921 and 1937.

This is a very hard to find 5×19 two-sided sign and swinging, hanging bracket. The Southern California Telephone Company, a Bell company was formed in Los Angeles in 1917 when five or more local telephone companies merged into one new company charged with the responsibility of installing automatic phone service (dials) to everyone.
Here are three examples from my collection. The two on the left are the standard 11″ by 11″ flange signs that were most often issued by each Bell System telephone company, like Pacific Telephone or Mountain States Telephone. The round sign is 14″ in diameter and was a general purpose sign normally mounted outside building to identify a pay telephone location. All of my signs are mounted on wood backboards for easy display and relocation.
“This photo features the newest sign in my collection. It is quite rare as it’s from one of the early independent companies later acquired by GTE, and there weren’t that many made. I grew up in Associated Telephone Company territory in southern California and actually worked one summer in the fifties for the local ATC plant where I recall among other duties, removing old cords, etc., from AE40 and North desksets. I was not a collector at that time, but sought working phones that I could hookup and use at home. I was also taught to fabricate wiring harnesses on a nail filled piece of plywood for use in converting standard switchboards to answering service boards.”
This is a very rare sign from a small town south of Sacramento. The town of San Joaquin was served by a very large independent in California, Associated Telephone Company, that was eventually acquired by GTE. These Associated signs are very scarce and to get one from a town as small as this one was just plain luck.
This is known as a “hubcap” sign because it’s round and has a convex surface. This is a general purpose sign and though not rare, it’s nonetheless difficult to find, especially in mint condition like this example. They were found mounted to walls near to or on the sides of telephone booths and other locations where this type of sign was appropriate. It’s 8″ in diameter. There are two playing cards partially visible below the sign. The Bell Logo on these cards was used prior to 1921, which suggests when the playing cards were probably given away by the telephone company.
These are “mini” signs, 4″ in diameter. The one on the right is often referred to as a hubcap sign. The one on the left is flat and doesn’t have a special name. Both of these signs are extremely rare, especially in such beautiful condition. The one of the left has attachment holes in the center of the sign field while the hubcap mounts on the sides. Note that both were issued by the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company and have the Bell logo used between 1921 and 1937. These signs were likely attached to company owned equipment.
This is a very large sign. It is fairly rare these days but I suspect that there was one in every major city served by New England Bell. This particular sign may not have suffered New England weather as there is no damage or wear on either side of double-faced sign.
This sign was probably never used considering its condition on both sides. Someone, however, cut off the flange on one end which required that I make a special slotted frame to hold it. It can be hung from a ceiling or other location where the sign can be viewed from either direction.
This sign came from somewhere on the East Coast. The sign has three small dents visible from both sides, and it shows signs of harsh weather conditions. It is a sign most often found hanging on the front of an Independent Telephone Company office that had a formal relationship with the Bell System.
This is an 11 by 11 flange sign with the pre-1921 Bell Logo. It should be noted however, that Canada used the early Bell System logos after the U.S. Bell System introduced newer designs. I do not know the age of this sign, but I suspect it was produced and used between 1920 and 1940.
This is a Canadian Bell System double-sided flange sign, approximately 6 by 9″ in size. They were issued in both blue on white and white on blue. I do not know if these signs were used by any of the independent Canadian telephone companies.
This is a single sided sign, 5 by 19″ in size. These signs were often used on phone booths or near phone booths, and often had arrows pointing in the direction of the public phone. This particular sign is very collectible and not easy to find. I understand that there may be as many as 27 different company signs of this style.
This is a “No Accident” award sign for a telephone company shop or other work area. Twenty-five years without an accident is a remarkable feat when one considers the type of work performed by telephone workers. This is about 4″ round, silver with blue porcelain, and a green cross inlaid in the porcelain. The center hole was for attachment purposes.
“This 10″ custom decal was manufactured for Dan Golden who is restoring an old truck that belonged to the Southern California Telephone Company. These decals or appliques will be applied to the doors of the truck just as they were originally. These are not water decals like the originals but made of a thin vinyl material that adheres to the paint on the door. This company was merged into the Pacific Telephone Company in 1948.”
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