Author Topic: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location  (Read 15862 times)

Offline LM Ericsson

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #75 on: January 23, 2013, 07:42:57 PM »
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Offline Doug Rose

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #76 on: February 03, 2013, 08:16:36 PM »
Maureen... I will again implore you to take pictures of you picturephone and try it on eBay. You will be happy beyond your wildest dreams. Post you car phones on eBay as well, everything else is fine at a phone show. The picture phone is special. You will not be disappointed and will not ever feel you did not get the most you could for it. Dad would agree with me....Doug
Mo....thank you for listening. This is almost as fun as if I had done this.....almost... ;D.....You did it!!!! You will never forget this, then again neither will we.....Doug
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Offline MagicMo

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #77 on: February 04, 2013, 12:02:04 AM »
Maureen... I will again implore you to take pictures of you picturephone and try it on eBay. You will be happy beyond your wildest dreams. Post you car phones on eBay as well, everything else is fine at a phone show. The picture phone is special. You will not be disappointed and will not ever feel you did not get the most you could for it. Dad would agree with me....Doug
Mo....thank you for listening. This is almost as fun as if I had done this.....almost... ;D.....You did it!!!! You will never forget this, then again neither will we.....Doug

How could I not after that? The word implore was the kicker. Thanks again Doug! You were SOOOO right!
Mo
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Offline 4123

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #78 on: March 21, 2013, 06:57:09 PM »
This story takes place in Oregon in the early 70's. I was working for a small independent telephone company called "Redwoods Telephone Company." Redwoods was owned by one person, and served the small community of Cave Junction, population 490. We were using an X Y switch at the time and almost everyone was on party lines with coded ringing. Redwoods also served the surrounding area that is heavily wooded and has lots of mountains.

It all started on Halloween night, when the local teenagers were having their annual rotten egg wars in front of the Dairy Queen. The next morning, the air was filled with the smell of rotten eggs up and down the main street in town. The kids were very thorough. It seemed like everything was hit including the three telephone booths located here and there within the city limits. The booths were the old green pine outdoor type with a four sided, pyramid shaped tin roof and bi-fold door with wire mesh safety glass. Inside each booth was a chrome Automatic Electric 3 slot pay station.

I had been working for Redwoods for only a few months and one of my many duties was to be in charge of all of the telephone booths in the valley. There were about fifteen of them. I did everything from cleaning and maintenance, to collecting, sorting, counting, keeping tract of and depositing all the money the booths made.

One of the booths had been hit especially bad. It was impossible to clean it with just a wet soapy rag like I did the other booths. I approached Don, the owner of the company and told him about my dilemma. Don not only owned several telephone companies, he also owned the local cement and gravel company as well. He told me to go to the cement companyís truck garage and find the portable steam cleaner that they used to clean the trucks. The truck garage was actually a huge Quonset hut. It was so big, that there were enough parking spaces for many cement mixer trucks inside. There was also a large office building inside....a building inside of a building!

It took me awhile to find the portable steam cleaner. When I did, I discovered that it was way too heavy to lift into the telephone company van by myself. I searched for a long board so I could roll the steam cleaner up into the van. I finally spotted a board sticking out from on top of the flat roof of the office building that was inside the bigger building. The next step was to find a ladder.... I couldnít find one. I noticed some cubbyholes that I could use as steps to climb to the top. Up I went. When I stuck my head over the top, my heart skipped a beat! I couldnít believe my eyes! There were old wood telephones up there! Hundreds of them! There were dozens of large piles! There were single box, double box and fiddle back telephones everywhere! The transmitters were pointing out at odd angles, and the hundreds of cloth cords looked like little snakes lying around. A pile in the far corner was over six feet high! The telephones were covered with a thick layer of dust, bird and mouse droppings and spider webs. Some had their doors open with bird nests built on top of magnetos. There was so much dust that everything looked gray. It was like a dream. As I was staring, I noticed many 202's, candlesticks, and other stuff laced throughout the piles. I tried to take a quick mental inventory, but it was too mind-boggling!

I must have them! That was all I could think about. I tried to keep my mind on my work for the next few days. But most of the time I spent trying to figure out how to approach Don and take possession of those telephones. I couldnít sleep, I lost my appetite and became very nervous, worrying that I would not be able to talk him out of them. Don was the type of man who didnít throw anything away. I mean he hung onto everything he ever owned! I couldnít stand it any longer. I finally went to talk to him.

 

I was going to be very cool about the whole thing. You know, casually mention (with little interest) the fact that I found a lifetime supply of antique telephones on his property, and that I wouldnít mind moving all that old stuff out of there for him. It was all covered with dust and it was, in fact, a big fire hazard and a breeding ground for rodents.

Don is a smart man. Besides running telephone companies and other businesses, he teaches business administration at the local college in Grants Pass. He wouldnít be easy to fool....I was desperate. It was time to confront him. I walked right up to him and blurted, "Hey Don, what are you going to do with all those telephones above the office at the gravel yard?" He looked at me and said, "I hadnít given it much thought, why?" I said, "Well, ya know, Iíve sorta been collecting old telephones for a while now, and I saw some up there that I would really like to have!" Darn! I thought. I shouldnít have said that! At best now, I might only get a few. He said, "Come on up to the ranch one of these evenings, and we can talk about it." I wanted to say, "Letís talk about it now." Instead, I said "OK."

Twenty eight hours later, I was knocking on his door. I was as nervous as a kid on his first date. He yelled from inside, "Come on in, Ron." We sat down at the table in the kitchen. He immediately started talking about the telephones, saying, "I was hoping that my kids would someday show some interest in all those old phones." I just sat there staring blankly. He said,"They are antiques now, you know?" I just continued staring, saying nothing. He said, "Now the kids are all grown up and have no interest in them, at all" I started to perk up. "Do you want a cup of coffee?" he said. "No." I said. He stood up and went over to the stove and poured himself some coffee, and I just sat there staring. "Well, Ron." He said, "Iíd really like to give them to you, but we have to make this a business transaction." My heart started thumping, and my eyes focused directly on his. I couldnít say anything. " Do you have a place to store them?" I nodded yes. "Iíll tell you what Ron, Iíll sell you all the telephones above the gravel office, and all the telephones in the other two warehouses for one dollar each.

I was trying to think! Other two warehouses? This couldnít be true! What two warehouses? A dollar each? What? I looked at Don and said, "OK".

"Iíll call Gary in the morning and tell him you will be coming in to pick up the telephones." I was trying to act calm. "You may want to use the front end loader to get them down, that will probably make things easier...Do you know where the Old Stage Road or the Patton Bar Road warehouses are?" I gulped,"No." He told me how to get to the Old Stage warehouse and mentioned that there were "quite a few old wood telephones stored there along with the old Western Electric switchboards they used before installing the X Y switch at the Sunnyside Telephone Company." "The Patton Bar warehouse contains mostly older central office stuff, but you may find some old telephones there too," he said.

I said, "Thank you" and sort of floated out of his ranch house and back to my truck. I canít remember the drive home. I do remember barging through the front door of our house and yelling, "Olga, were rich!" (Telephone rich).

I was at the gravel yard with my flatbed truck when Gary showed up for work. He unlocked the Quonset hut and I raced in. I flew up the side of the office building so fast that I overshot it and hit my head on one of the ceiling rafters of the larger building! The telephones were still there. I didnít know where to start. As I started moving things around, the dust started flying. It got so bad that I was having trouble breathing. The smell of rodents was strong. Spider webs were sticking to my head. I loved it!

The first problem was trying to get some of the receivers and cords untangled. By then, Gary was there with the front-end loaderís bucket all the way up to the level where I was. He had climbed up in the bucket and was watching me. He says, "hereís a knife....cut em." I almost laughed, but I was choking on dust. We filled the bucket with the first load of telephones at about 9:00 A.M., the flatbed was full by noon. It took three trips with the truck filled to the brim each time. The count was more than three hundred complete telephones. There were two more warehouses to go!

The Old Stage warehouse was another Quonset hut, this time much smaller. Inside, there was the same musty smell that I experienced above the office the day before at the gravel yard. Telephones were everywhere. There were lots of 102's, 202's, ashtray phones, Leichís, A.E.ís, S.C.ís, etc. Each one with its own oak ringer box. There also were five Western Electric drop type magneto switchboards. And one very tall and narrow Kellogg drop type magneto switchboard with a hanging transmitter.

The Patton Bar warehouse was a little different. There were a dozen metal sided rotary dial cordboards with lights instead of drops. And, like Don said, there was a lot of C.O.equipment laying around....Getting rusty. It looked like someone had ransacked the place. Most of the gauges had been removed from the panels. There were no telephones....So far, the count was in excess of 600 telephones and 18 switchboards. I was overwhelmed.

Now it was time to go back and deal with Don. He was sitting at his kitchen table drinking coffee. As soon as I walked in, he started talking about the telephone repair center he once operated until 1950, right there on his ranch. It had accommodated over 25 independent telephone companies in Southern Oregon. At the time, he was the president of the Independent Telephone Company Association. He then showed me his podium that they let him keep when he finally left office. It was made out of a tapered shaft candlestick that I could not identify....or have.

Don then pointed out the window to a very long blue building about one hundred yards from his house. There was a gravel road going between the building and a very large barn. He said, "Thatís the telephone repair center over there. You may as well go over there and dig around for parts. Thereís a room in the middle of the blue building where we used to rebuild dials. There are also crates full of transmitters and receivers and stuff like that. While you are at it, look in the barn. Thatís where we stored all the dial sets. They are up on the third level."

By now, I was getting used to this. I casually walked over to the blue building and went inside. Thereís that musty smell again. Just inside the door, on the right, were shelves from the floor to the ceiling filled with almost every type of Grey pay station imaginable. 23Dís, Wanamaker's, coin collectors attached to candlesticks and a lot of coin collectors with the side mount waiting to be attached to something. This was a whole new ball game! There were things hanging from the ceiling, laying on the floors and leaning against shelves that were filled with wondrous things that I couldnít yet see. It was hard to take. I had this thrilled feeling that wouldnít stop. I felt like a human Pogo stick, jumping around trying to take it all in. I looked to the left. There were more of the same kind of shelves. On them were porcelain signs. Most of them were Bell System signs . There was an unopened box that read, "One gross. Type 26 booth signs." There were stacks of flanged signs, big signs, little signs, Pacific Northwest Bell signs, Associated Telephone signs, Sunnyside Telephone signs, West coast Telephone signs, and so on.

I went further in. I came to a door on the left. I opened it, and entered. My nose was immediately hit with the smell of old machine oil. This was the dial room. The room was about 10' x 16' and had a smooth workbench around the entire perimeter. Pushed under the workbench were three old oak, caned operators chairs. Above the workbench were more shelves. There was another door at the end of the room that led to what appeared to be some kind of washing room with large tubs. There were steel grate-like things that were to be lowered into the tubs.

I started to look at the shelves in the first room. Needless to say, they were bulging with dials. There were shallow boxes full of dials that read things like, "Western Electric Type 2 unwashed, Type 2 washed, Type 2 cleaned-assembled-tested good, Type 4....etc., Type 5....etc., Automatic Electric Type 24....etc., Stroger 2 1/2"...etc. Stromberg Carlson...etc, Kellogg etc.etc.etc. There was one corner that must have been the assembly spot. There were boxes full of number card holders, number cards, Celluloid's, and other things. I had to sit down and take a breather! The operatorís chair creaked as I sat in it. I felt good.

There is no way I can describe to you, all the contents of that building. Iíll just give you a few examples. There were one hundred pound boxes full of complete transmitter arms, receivers, ringers, magnetos, mouthpieces and bells. I found a box full of "Flint Sanitary" glass mouthpieces...all but one were broken. There were outdoor skeleton bells, parts for booths, roofs for booths, wire mesh glass panels for booths, bi-fold doors for booths, and much more.

I finally worked my way back to what appeared to be the office. I stepped inside. Lined up across the back wall were complete sets of catalogues from Western Electric, Kellogg, Stromberg Carlson, Automatic Electric, Graybar, and others. There were piles of Telephony Magazines dating back to who knows when. There were drawers full of diagrams, schematics and instructions. There were phone books and advertising things. Again, itís hard to describe the contents of that office.

Just past the office door was the door leading outside. I stepped out into the sunlight. As far as I could see, going all the way back into the woods, was pole line equipment. There were thousands of insulators that looked like they were dumped there by a dump truck. There were telephone pole cross arms stacked in huge 20' X 20' blocks that were 6 Ď high. There were dozens of wooden cable spools with old galvanized #9 wire on them. I walked down the gravel road into the woods. Parked in a clearing were old 1940's type telephone company trucks. There were line trucks, installerís trucks, splicerís trailers, pole trailers and so on. The trucks were still fully stocked with materials.

I hadnít looked in the barn yet, I was afraid to. It was huge. As I approached, it reminded me of a haunted house. The barn was three stories tall. I walked in the large double doorway and looked up. It was dark inside. I could see streaks of light coming from between gaps in the old siding. The entire inside structure of the barn was made out of telephone pole cross arms. Even the upper floors were cross arms lined up side by side. Just inside the big double door, to the left, was an indoor type oak telephone booth. Next to it were two outdoor pine telephone booths. The first floor was split into two sections with a wall between them. On the left side of the wall were things like "men working" signs, dozens of climbing belts hanging from hooks, bell system lanterns, peaveys, pole carriers, cant hooks, soldering pots, more signs, miscellaneous telephones, tools, tools and more tools. On the right side of the wall, was a stairway leading up to the second level.

As I ascended the stairs, straight ahead, I could see a section that was not telephone related. There were a lot of old bicycles and other things. There were boxes stacked all the way up to the bottom of the third floor. At the top of the stairs, I turned and looked behind me and saw dozens of large wooden crates with words written on them. I went to the first one. It said, "misc. workbench". I opened it . It looked like someone had roughly pushed everything off a display table at an antique telephone show, into the box. Other boxes read "302 bodyís, metal" or "hotel phones," or "transmitters and receivers," or "misc. shelves," and so on. Also, on the second floor were central office items like transformers, rectifiers, amplifiers, ring generators and all kinds of tube equipment. The list goes on and on.

All that was left was the third floor. I could see it, but there was no visible way to get up there. I spotted a 4' x 5' platform type thing hanging from a pulley that was attached to a track that extended the entire length of the barn at its peak. The platform was hanging all the way up, at the top of the barn. I followed the cable with my eyes all the way down to the level that I was standing on. There was a big-geared crank there. Using the crank, I lowered the platform down to my level. There was no way to crank myself up on that thing! This was turning into a quest! I went back down stairs and found the ladder department. I chose a solid oak linemanís model, a super long one, because there was a 15' gap between the second and third floors.

I climbed up the ladder. Guess what I found? Thatís right, more telephones! Hundreds of them! Mostly, there were 302's in boxes with dials and ringers. There were also Kellogg ashtray phones, Redbars, etc. The count on the third floor was in excess of 500 telephones. Most of them were equipped with dials.

Well, thatís the end of this story. After all was said and done, the total count was over 1800 dial telephones, 600 wood magneto telephones and an unbelievable amount of parts and everything else you can imagine.

Every year, on Halloween night, I think about the great egg wars that led me to the "Antique Telephone Collectors Dream Come True."  

 

NOTE. This story took place over 30 years ago. This find changed my life. Shortly after, Don sold the Redwoods Telephone Company to a much larger independent company. Nothing in the warehouses was included in this sale. By the way, I did acquire most of those fifteen wooden outdoor booths when they were retired from service. It took me many years to go through this enormous amount of telephones and artifacts. At first, I made a lot of mistakes....big mistakes! I sold off or traded large numbers of telephones and parts to professional antique telephone dealers who knew a lot more than I did. I look at it now as my education. I thank them for helping to train me. Don still sits at the table in his kitchen drinking his coffee. He now owns banks. Since this story was written, I have found two more similar telephone warehouses that were not associated with the people in this story. They werenít quite as large, but just as much fun.

PS. Don passed away in 2010.

« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 07:03:13 PM by 4123 »
Ron Christianson

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Offline Doug Rose

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #79 on: March 21, 2013, 07:51:12 PM »
Ron.... a warm welcome to the Forum. Anyone who has been collecting telephones awhile knows Ron or knows of Ron. One of the most amazing collection of telephones in housed in Ron's Museum. If you were in the ATCA for anytime in the past thirty years, you know Ron.

Great story Ron and thanks for sharing with us. Again,  welcome and do not be a stranger....Doug
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #80 on: March 22, 2013, 10:09:45 PM »
This story takes place in Oregon in the early 70's.

All I can say is WOW!, Ron!

Dave
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Offline AE_Collector

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #81 on: March 23, 2013, 01:09:58 AM »
Yes, welcome Ron. I knew who it was as soon as I saw your "handle" 4123. Your stories are always so much fun for us phone collectors to read!

Terry

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #82 on: March 23, 2013, 10:40:57 AM »
Thank you for that post Ron.  Reading it was like reading a good book.  I couldn't wait to read the next line!  As Dave said, "Wow!"

I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Welcome to the Forum!

~Dennis

Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #83 on: March 24, 2015, 09:54:09 AM »
Does anyone mind if I restart this thread?

My biggest haul was last year, when I visited the home of a collector of all sorts of vintage things, who had recently passed away. The people working to take care of his possessions were going to throw most of this stuff away, but my Uncle (an attorney) was overseeing the estate. He mentioned to the people that I was interested in old phones, and they agreed that I can take most of the phone stuff away! When I got there, I was baffled at what I found! I was expecting a couple small boxes with maybe four or five phones total, not this! :o It took maybe an hour to load all of this stuff up. It was 4 or 5 degrees below zero, but I didn't care!

I made off with several gigantic boxes full of cheap '90s phone stuff, but the real prizes were in the 2nd picture. Everything (except for the 40AL on the scissors mount) was free. There was one phone in the 'cheap' box that didn't go to Goodwill or Salvation Army, and that was a mid-1980s ITT 2500 in black, and that's the Master Bedroom Daily Driver!

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=11036.0
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 09:59:08 AM by WEBellSystemChristian »
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Offline Brinybay

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #84 on: March 24, 2015, 12:37:13 PM »
Does anyone mind if I restart this thread?

Not at all, no rules against that here.  Better to add to an old thread on the same subject than to start a new one.  I remember "back in the day" of rec.whatever lists people had a conniption fit about reviving old threads, but I never did understand why.
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Offline HarrySmith

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #85 on: March 24, 2015, 12:51:00 PM »
Nice haul!
So you have an extra scissors mount then?
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Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #86 on: March 24, 2015, 01:04:53 PM »
Nice haul!
So you have an extra scissors mount then?

Yep!

It's an AE. I think I tried to mount a WE20AL to it, and it actually fit!
Christian

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Offline Brinybay

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #87 on: March 25, 2015, 11:55:08 AM »

My biggest haul was last year, when I visited the home of a collector of all sorts of vintage things, who had recently passed away. The people working to take care of his possessions were going to throw most of this stuff away, but my Uncle (an attorney) was overseeing the estate. He mentioned to the people that I was interested in old phones, and they agreed that I can take most of the phone stuff away! When I got there, I was baffled at what I found! I was expecting a couple small boxes with maybe four or five phones total, not this! :o It took maybe an hour to load all of this stuff up. It was 4 or 5 degrees below zero, but I didn't care!

I made off with several gigantic boxes full of cheap '90s phone stuff, but the real prizes were in the 2nd picture. Everything (except for the 40AL on the scissors mount) was free. There was one phone in the 'cheap' box that didn't go to Goodwill or Salvation Army, and that was a mid-1980s ITT 2500 in black, and that's the Master Bedroom Daily Driver!

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=11036.0

Nice haul!  Did the dog come with it?
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Offline Payphone installer

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #88 on: November 11, 2017, 08:21:26 AM »
About 20 years ago prior to eBay the only access to old telephones and parts was hunting antique shows or the classified ads in the club newsletters. It was and still is important to talk to telephone collectors on the telephone. I and two other collectors were busy tracking down old payphone parts. One the collectors came across a guy who owned a telephone company up in NewYork. In the process of talking to his he stated he had a bunch of parts in a barn behind his house. We talked more to him and myself  and one other collector just decided to go there. We arrived visited for awhile and then walked into a shop inside a long wood barn. Everywhere were payphones and parts. All of it was the rarest of the rare. It turned out this independent company refurbished payphones and had a deal with a scrap guy who received what was supposed to be scrap from a Bell Telephone company. The scrap guy was funneling the stuff to this guy. 25 years before we arrived the operation was shut down because the guy who rebuilt the phones died. All the stuff had been there for years. We bought it all. It was the mother load. We hauled it back in a big truck and then sorted it for months. That is the story of one of my best finds. Jim

Offline Doug Rose

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Re: What is the Largest Amount Of Telephones You Found at One Location
« Reply #89 on: November 11, 2017, 08:37:10 AM »
Jim....I love stories like that. Something you will never forget....thanks for sharing...Doug
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