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Post your favorite number cards

Started by jsowers, July 28, 2009, 01:48:15 PM

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One of the best parts of an old phone to me is the number card, especially if it's an original one. The 1930s to the end of the 1950s may be the golden era of the number card, though there are nice ones from before and after that. Another favorite thing is when you get a bonus card on a phone that was turned around, so you didn't know until you got it home. Those are very special.

Take some pictures of your favorites and post them, and if you know the card's history and what city or town it came from, please share it. Or if you're looking for something specific, maybe one of us has something like it and can scan it for you, if it's not available already at the number card archive.

I have four favorites, in no particular order. I can't pick just one...

First is a SChuyler 4 card from New York City, home of unusual exchange names. SChuyler is not only hard to spell, it's hard to pronounce. "Skyler" is how I think it's pronounced. How people knew to dial SC instead of SK is anyone's guess. This card came on a 202 painted silver, with a black F1 handset. I don't know if that's the original finish or someone's idea of an improvement.

Second is the card from my first dark blue 500 set, from 1956. It was from Cicero, Illinois, found still installed in a 1950s house the seller bought to refurbish. The insert on the card is unusual, like the bank had it installed.

Third is the card from my first 500U from 1958. A pink one from the Blue Hills section of Boston, Mass.

Fourth is a card I'm not completely sure where it came from or what phone it came from. It's a mouthful. I think it stands for South Orange and may be from New Jersey. If anyone knows for sure, please reply.

I've never had enough luck to find original number cards from the 1950s and early 60s from the area where I live. The telco may have had fairly tight control over their phones and replaced all the old cards when ANC (all number calling) became the norm. It was an independent telco that used mostly AE equipment and all I can remember is the standard AE card in white with a black squarish outlined area in the center.

I have a local 1963 phone book with letters still being used on about half the phone numbers, RE for REgent and CH for CHestnut, so I know it must have happened after that. I was in kindergarten at the time, so I don't have any memory of what all the cards looked like in the old days.

So let's see your favorite cards!


Great cards!  I only have one original dial card and it's a blank that was in my 354.  Recently I went by the library and found that they have area phone books going back to 1950, with the statue of Golden Boy on the front.  Found that the local exchange back then was on 4th and D street, so we drove by afterwards but it's gone now and is a low income medical clinic.  I've never seen an old phone in my area with an original dial card with a number on it.


Most of mine are kinda boring.  But there are three that I like, and here are two of them.  The first was mounted to the top of a manual C-mount hanging handset that was removed from service in Manhattan, and was sold by the daughter of the phone installer who brought it home from work.  It's an all-white card with a fine black outline around the number area, and there's an emergency overlay above that.  The second card came on a III-41 5L dial which was attached to a 34F dial mount.  The "card" is just a piece of office paper that was labeled using a typewriter.

The third one is the one on my daily driver 202, and it's just a standard black card with a medium-sized white center.  That one's blank and unused.  Oddly enough, it was found behind the dial card pictured on the left.

Dennis Markham

I found it very difficult to pick out my favorite.  I will post the minimum allowable by the software--6.  Many of the cards I have collected I have no historical background on them.  Each time I bought a phone with a nice card I'd grab the card to hold for future "collectible" phones. 

#1:  The first one is UBLY 4387.  I bought this Ivory D1 Continental from a seller in Northern Michigan.  I had a double bonus with this phone.  The first was that it has a #4 dial.  Secondly when I removed the finger wheel the card was turned around.  There is a small town in the "thumb" of Michigan named Ubly.  I'm sure this came from that area.  The seller lived in Cadillac, MI., about 150 miles from Ubly.

#2:  SCHENECTADY 4-4896.  Another "hidden" card.  I bought a two-tone Red & Black 500 from a woman in New York.  The phone is from 1954.  When it arrived, once again, hidden under a newer card was this one.  It's a little discolored but I believe it is original to the phone.

#3:  WOodward 1.  Once again, this card was turned inward.  I bought this Green Continental D1 via eBay.  The seller was located in Detroit.  It also came with a #4 dial and a nice dial card with a matching mask.  Woodward Ave is a famous length of highway that kids would "cruise" back in the 1950s.  I'm pretty sure this would be a local exchange.

#4:  POntiac 1711.  I like this card because it is from the 6 digit era.  I saw the card on a model 500 on eBay.  Because I live not far from Pontiac, MI I bought the phone for the card (as I have done on several occasions).  It turns out that the exchange is from Ohio.  The seller lived in the general vicinity of Pontiac, OH.  Ironically I have another POntiac card with a hand written number.  The card is now on a black D1.

#5:  TYler 4-7453.  This is a Detroit exchange.  I got the card on a black 500 at a flea market.  It now accents my soft plastic Ivory 500.

#6:  I decided to post a group of cards.  All awaiting a phone to call home (E.T.)  A friend gave me the one card on the left, in a chrome AE dial card retainer ring.  It reads Detroit Police Telephone System.  I actually have another one that is in a Kellogg/Itt black 500.  The cards on the right side of the photo are AE cards.


Here is a group of six from independent and Bell phones.

#1: This one is part of a group of cards (WE and AE) that I purchased from a seller from Northern CA. I have a few of these red cards, so I think the seller had access to a bunch of phones removed from service from some office building. This phone is work in progress.

#2: This one is from an AE80, also from ebay, for which I paid less than $5. This is the most complete AE80 phone I have. Even the 283B plug is stamped with the AE logo. There is a city named Woodland Hills not too far from here, but the phone is from Northern CA, so I doubt they are related. It features a 20 Hz frequency ringer.

#3: This one sits on a 302 from Pennsylvania. Phone is dated 1952.

#4: This one is from the east coast, from the city of Woodbury, Connecticut. It was taken out of service in 1993 and sat inside a box until a couple of years ago.

#5: This is a very nice card. It was originally covered by a stick-on card. And it just happens to be on a WE500 that dates back to the month and year I was born. I believe it is from the New York area.

#6: This is a cool repro card from an early candlestick. I show this to little kids that come to my office and see a rotary phone for the first time.  ;D ;D ;D



Never a camera around when I need one. The card in my 202 is the same as JorgeAmley's 302. Mine says  BRiargate4-
I looked it up a while back and I think its from Chicago Illinois.
"Ain't Worryin' 'Bout Nothin"


cool dial cards. i like the instructions ;D & the woodland exchange.

i am about to get a new camera. maybe you want my old one ??? PM me if interested.


Quote from: bingster on July 28, 2009, 04:32:11 PM
Most of mine are kinda boring.  But there are three that I like, and here are two of them.  The first was mounted to the top of a manual C-mount hanging handset that was removed from service in Manhattan, and was sold by the daughter of the phone installer who brought it home from work.  It's an all-white card with a fine black outline around the number area, and there's an emergency overlay above that.

Bingster, that STerling card is very unusual. They have three-digit numbers for fire and medical and a regular 7-digit number for the phone, with a three-digit extension. Did that mean the fire and medical were in the same building? In NYC, it could happen, I guess.

Dennis, that UBLY card wins the contest for the most unusual city name. One letter off from UGLY, but anything but.

I have some more cards to share. I agree with Dennis that it's hard to pick a favorite. It's like children. You love them all. I've enjoyed seeing all the cards that were posted.

1: I have a SCHENECTADY card very similar to Dennis' from a dark beige two-tone from the same city. Dark beige is not one of the four colors they advertised, and I thought it was very faded ivory until I bleached it and then it turned back to dark beige. Also like Dennis' card, mine has adhesive marks on it. Someone must have done a really good job promoting two-tones in Schenectady.

2. Not a card but a directory listing from 1963 for my dad (Graham), uncle (Max) and grandfather (Paul). These numbers all changed in the mid-1960s and I don't remember seeing REgent on the cards of my childhood. They all looked like Jorge's WOodland 6 in design, but had only numbers in them.

3. Here's an example of a stick-on card over an older one. These stick-ons were sent out when area codes came in during the 1950s and 60s. Notice they're the same number and the adhesive pattern is similar to the card in my first picture. Luckily this card was stuck to the clear plastic protector and not the original card.

4. This is a number card from a 1954 ivory 500. It had a sticky label over the original card and I couldn't remove it without taking part of the original card off. It also had a rust stain. I did soak it for a while, but it was stuck fast. So I scanned the card and fixed it in Photoshop. It's not perfect, but it looks better than the damaged original.

5. This card also had a stick-on, but luckily it came off easily. Notice the card is light gray behind the stuck-on part. Most all the cards from the late 50s were light gray originally. We rarely see that today because light fades them to more of an ivory color. I have strips of unstamped cards from the late 50s and early 60s and they're all light gray.

6. Here's an example of a card with a stamped exchange and number and then someone typed a message in it. It didn't come on this early red 500 with a black dial, but it looks like it belongs on an emergency phone, so I attached it.


Love that last one, "Do not use this phone".  Hilarious, exactly what then was the phone for if not to be used? 

You all have some fab cards!

Dennis Markham

Bingster, Jorge, Jonathan, those are some great cards.  Jonathan, your SCHENECTADY card even has the same mark in the center.  It's fun to see the cards and learn a little bit of history about them when possible.  I thought I'd post a couple more too......although I have many I'd like to share I'll just add a couple more then stop...promise.

#1:  On my 4/1955 "birthday" phone I put this card.  It did not come on the phone but I kind of liked it.  KEllogg 2-3237.  It seems like it should be on a Kellogg phone but it wouldn't be the correct card.  I can't help but see that word and hear the old Beverly Hillbillies theme song when they spelled out "KE-double L, Oh Double-good" during their commercial.  I believe it was Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs that sang the theme.  For any old-timers out there.

#2:  Last year I made an out-of-eBay purchase from a fellow in Pennsylvania.  He said that he had two phones that both came from a 75 year old hardware store in Ohio, near Galion, OH.  One is a Kellogg Masterphone 1000 (Red Bar) and the other is a North Electric Model 7H6 "Galion" phone.  The Galion has an A.E. card with a handwritten number but the Red Bar has this PLaza 9 card.  It was apparently a stick-on card that they put on over an original Kellogg card.  It's a little crooked but I like the originality of the card.

#3:  This Seattle EAst card is on my Old Rose 302.  It came to me with that card. I don't know the history of the phone or the card.

#4:  TEnnyson 5 -1126 is on my red soft plastic 500 with straight gray cord.  It was not original to this phone but like the way it looks.

#5:  RHinelander 4 - 2283 has a new home on one of my Mediterranean Blue 500's.  I think it's from the east coast.

#6:  CLinton 6 - 0951.  I don't think that this card has any affiliation to you-know-who.  It came on the phone where it is currently displayed---a black W.E. 500 from 5/1955.  I believe it came from Ohio.


Dennis, I am old enough to remember that Kellogg's jingle, words and melody, and that it ended with "Kellogg's best to you." I think the person singing it was Jerry Scoggins, from what I could find out. Flat & Scruggs did record the Ballad of Jed Clampett, though.

For those young whippersnappers who don't know what the heck Dennis and I are referring to, I just found it on YouTube. The jingle is at the end...

How come I can remember that tune from childhood and I can't remember the name of most anyone I just met?

Also, I think RHinelander 4 is from New York City, home of BUtterfield 8, MUrray Hill, LOngacre 4, COurtlandt 7, PEnnsylvania 6, and one very favorite, used by Humphrey Bogart in the movie Sabrina, BOwling Green 9.

Dennis, thanks for the additional card shots. It's amazing all the diversity in something so small and insignificant, or at least they were a throwaway item to telcos. I'm constantly surprised that the old card is still there on some phones, after all those years.

Dennis Markham

And thank you for the jingle.  That sure sounds like ole Lester & Earl to me.  (Update-  Jonathan graciously informed me that Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs did play the music to that jingle but it was in fact sung by Jerry Scoggins.

My apologies for doubting jsowers on this one!)

I can remember what I did on July 16, 1969 but can't remember what I had for lunch today.  I think that is an aging thing...I read about it recently but can't remember where.  :)


I like the one with the dialing instructions.  Necessary once again today for all the youngsters who have never dealt with a rotary phone.  I'd have that card on most of my phones if I could reproduce it.

Wasn't/isn't Woodbury an independent phone company?  Possibly in the New England area?  It rings a bell, so to speak, from my days with SBC/AT&T after they bought out New Haven-based SNET.



Quote from: Brinybay on July 30, 2009, 02:11:08 AM
Only a few of the phones in my collection have dial/number cards, and they're rather boring.  The only one I have worth mentioning is on the NEC:


If you have a deskjet, some card stock and some patience, you can get pretty good at making your own number cards.  I even went to the extent of getting a circle cutter from JoAnn Fabrics to make perfect circles.  Not worth the $15 or so bucks if you only make one every once in a while.  Besides, even the circle cutter requires learning and patience to center it and get the circumfrence just right.

-Bill G