It is fairly easy to recognize artifacts from the early years, when they are complete, because they are fairly recognizable to the educated viewer. However, the vast majority of items that show up today, have been modified and changed myriad times over their service years and, oftentimes don’t resemble what they originally looked like. I take consummate pride in being able to recognize these “diamonds in the rough”, and ultimately, bring them back to life, so to speak. Now that I am retired from full time employment I finally have the time to chase my passions, although frugality rules the day. If I can’t get a great deal on an early artifact, I just let it pass me by. The good news is that the stuff is usually in such disrepair that I am able to get them at fairly reasonable costs.
Let me tell you about a case in point:
About 2 years ago a Collector Friend from Europe sent me some photos of “some early American stuff” he bought, that were included with a telephone collection of European phones that he purchased. He was offering me the opportunity to buy any of the miscellaneous American items that he did not wish to keep. At any rate, he sent me the photos of the “American items”. These were mostly bits and pieces, made by several common U.S. manufacturers. Amongst this trove was a “put-together” 2-box compact magneto wall telephone”, where the top was an extensively modified Post & Company Coffin Phone! (Post & Company phones are extremely rare phones that were made for the Bell Telephone Co. in the early 1880s). I knew instantly that “I could not let this relic pass me by”.
I had no interest in the phone backboard and battery box, as none of these parts were Post & Company parts. All I really wanted was the “Post & Company Coffin Carcass”. Coffins are real early phones that have 'beveled corners' like real burial coffins. So, I paid what I felt was a fair price betting that, over time, I could come up with the proper parts and could execute the myriad repairs required.
The following 4 photos show what this looked like when I purchased it:
- P & C Coffin 2-Box
- P & C Coffin Left Side
- P & C Coffin Right Side
- P & C Coffin Inside
The last 4 photos show the final restored 1880 Post & Co. Coffin Telephone:
- Restored Front View
- Restored Right View
- Restored left View
- Restored inside View
I am a recognized authority on vintage American Telephones and related artifacts from the 1970s all the way back to 1876, when phones were first invented.
I am very active in Telephone Collector circles, operating on eBay under the Houndstooth handle. I am a Founder, past President and Board of Directors Member of the Telephone Collectors International where I am still a member. Also I am very active in the Antique Telephone Collectors Association, where I am Member No. 303, dating to 1976. I am also a past member of the European Telephone Historical Group (THG) and the Canadian Telephony Society.
Appraising and establishing current values of Antique Telephones and Collections, with their individual telephones and related artifacts, is a subjective science that is rooted in my real experiences and first hand knowledge of current values in the field. In my opinion there are no reliable reference books or directories where one can look up current values.
I have traveled extensively buying and selling telephones and related artifacts, attending literally hundreds of antique telephone and regular antiques and collector shows and I have mined the Internet for many years in pursuit of knowledge of American and International Telephonic development and current values.
I have appraised some of the most prominent Telephone Collections in America, including those of Dr. Ken King, Robert Newell, Al Farmer, Norman Mulvey, Vince and Marge Wilson, Mrs. Betty Scott, Terry Gatons, Greg Jarrett, Elliot Tuckel, the Telephone Pioneers of Vermont, the New Hampshire Telephone Museum, The JKL Museum, and The Franklin institute. Plus I have helped establish the final valuation of the largest Private Telephone Collection In America. Additionally I regularly work with the Curators of several Telephone Museums in establishing values of individual items in their inventory, plus target acquisitions. Plus, I constantly work with some of the most prominent telephone collectors in America, assisting each other in establishing current values. I will be glad to furnish specific references, should you require that.