Wood Telephones

The phones pictured in this section are those that mount on or in the wall, and are for the most part manufactured from wood. My collection does not include a great number of wood wall sets.

According to the previous owner, this basic common single box phone, a Canadian N317 (same as the W.E. 1317) was factory customized to be a Toll Board. The board interconnected to a phone booth for public use and one or two other extensions. The owner or operator of the phone could connect other users with the main line of the phone and then keep track of the length of the call using the timer attached to the front of the phone. The box on the top of the phone was from where the wires ran to the booth and other locations.
This is my new Northern Electric switchboard, called an N1317A. This model was in use into the seventies in Canada, but no one is quite sure when it was first used, but it must have been in the late teens and early twenties. This one is complete, wiring and all, and a couple of the circuits have been tested. This board was equipped to handle local calls, but one or more of the jacks could also connect to another town for toll calls. You can see the size of it compared with the W.E. fiddleback to the right.
This is a small, common battery W.E. fiddleback. According to the dealer from whom I acquired it, the advertising face plate and the glass mouthpiece were on it when he bought it and he believes that the phone was removed from its original location in this condition. For demo purposes, I intend to make it one of the extensions that can be called from the board next to it and described above. The sign above is one of my latest acquisitions, a small Western Union sign that may have been used in outdoor locations.
This is a Holtzer Cabot wall set with original receiver and cord. This phone uses the same dial mechanism as seen above and on the HC candlestick in that section of the website. The dialing mechanism was manufactured by Ness American or perhaps Ness of Canada. This set also features an original bullet glass mouthpiece. This type of phone was part of an internal dial intercom system as the dial was not the type that would function with the ordinary rotary dialing equipment.
This is a hotel switchboard mfg’d by Western Electric circa 1910. It’s known as the 1012 board. It accommodates ten rooms (one set of bells per room). The clerk could call any room, receive a call from any room, and connect one room to another. It’s not clear in the literature whether this board was for internal use only. The wood has been refinished and all the metal parts have been renickeled. The mouthpiece is an original porcelain piece which could be boiled to eliminate germs. The board could be functional as it is totally complete.
Here’s a nice view out an upstairs window. There is a Chicago tandem on the left, a W.E. 301 on the right with a small intercom/Samson unit next to it, and a W.E. candlestick lamp in the center.
This is commonly known as a Strowger Wall Set. They are very nice items and are not difficult to find. This one is in especially nice condition in all respects. Note the old, original glass mouthpiece. Glass could be sterilized easily so many people installed them on their phones to reduce the chances of contracting TB. Many folks carried one of these mouthpieces with them to use on phones when away from home. Some glass mouthpieces, such as the Red Cross type, actually provided a way for a disenfectant to be added to a wick or reservoir within the mouthpiece. The framed item just above the phone is a Long Distance tobacco label.
This is Western Electric Type 21 set.  This phone appears on Page 52 of Rick Mountjoy’s “One Hundred Years of Bell Telephones.”  Actually, it a later model, circa 1907, which was converted from a Type 21 set by the addition of a newer transmitter.  This set is walnut with a set of walnut bells or gongs.  Rick calls this a Type 240 set with a Type 250 “New Style Bracket Set Transmiter.”
This wallset is known as a Western Electric Type 21 conversion. This phone was converted from the top box on the phone pictured above or below this photo when it was no longer necessary to store batteries inside the phone. The above and below phones are pre-1900 and were probably converted around the turn of the century. There are a number of different types of conversions. Most of this model phone were made of Walnut. The small round 4″ porcelain Bell System sign below is very rare and was probably used by the phone company to mark or identify company property or equipment.
This phone is very much like the one just above but it’s an earlier model made in New York for the New England Bell Telephone Company. It differs in a couple of ways from the one above in that it has features that the other doesn’t have. One of them is a special lightning arrestor mounted inside on the bell coil. The arrestor contacts are held open by a wax ball that would in the case of a lighting strike, melt, allowing the switch contacts to close thus protecting the phone and the user from the effects of the lightning. The switchhook and the manner in which the door latches are also different. The circular Bell logo on the right is an old decal. The lamp is one of those made by the phone company, intended no doubt as a gift for a retiring employee. Seldom does one see a dial candlestick used for this purpose.
This is a small Kellogg fiddleback that has been converted to dial service. I found the phone without the dial but was later able to secure part of the original mount and then have John Infurna make the missing part that attaches the dial assembly to the shelf. I added the all original coin collector to the rear of this phone. The mouthpiece is an old, original Kellogg ivory model. The receiver is a brown Kellogg. The small wood box just to the left of the transmitter is a Kellogg, two-line switch. The Public Telephone porcelain magnet is new and simply sticks to the front of the coin collector.