Deutsches Telefonmuseum, a petting zoo for antique and vintage telephones

Museum Morbach plastic telephones
Museum Morbach plastic telephones
Deutsches Telefonmuseum Morbach sign
Deutsches Telefonmuseum Morbach sign

It buzzes, it hums, it clicks. And not because it is old, not because it is run down, but because everything works and it works properly. The Deutsches Telefonmuseum (German telephone museum) in Morbach is not an old school museum with glass show cases and small cards explaining the exhibits. It is also not a hip & trendy museum with 3d multimedia experiences and audio guides. Much better than that in Morbach you can touch most of the exhibits and feel what it’s like to really use them. The majority of the telephones, however old, are connected to one of the working exchanges.  

Morbach novelty phones
Morbach novelty phones

So you can try real old telephones, touch them, dial a number, listen en speak through it and get a real feel for these rare old, once common, household items. And not only that, they work through real old exchanges which are also on exhibit.

My visit, at last!

Museum Morbach telephone booth
Museum Morbach telephone booth

I had heard a lot about this museum and it was recommended by other collectors. A couple of years ago I failed dismally to visit it. On the last day of our vacation, the day we really had to travel home, I stood in front of the entrance only to find out that it was closed that particular morning. I was there. I could smell the telephones, but could not enter. All because of an outdated flyer I had. I spoke with Gary Goff (president Telephone Collectors International <website>) and he advised me to contact the museum before visiting and that proprietors, Siegfried and Simone, only spoke German.

It was a good thing that I emailed the museum before visiting on the 10th of august 2016. It was open and the proprietors, Siegfried and Simone Wart, were waiting for me in the doorway. How is that for a reception? There was coffee and biscuits. 🙂

The museum

Museum Morbach overview room
Museum Morbach overview room

The museum has a great collection of telephones and telephone related equipment from Germany. It is arranged in several different rooms, covering different eras of telephone history. In these rooms, to my delight, the phones get ample space to be admired. No overfilled showcases, no overcrowded tables trying to exhibit everything. And very few things behind glass. Most of the phones have plenty of space, to be admired on their own and in their own right. And what’s more, you can even touch them! And not just the common phones, but quite a few of the more exotic and rare ones too.

Mix & Genest Klimax
Mix & Genest Klimax

So I was able to touch and feel a ZBSA 11 Schlagring (Knuckleduster) and a Mix & Genest Klimax for the very first time. As a collector I will not forget these moments. And to complete the experience, like a cherry on your vla (it’s a Dutch thing), these telephones are connected to each other with vintage and antique equipment. In every room, covering a certain era, there is an appropriate exchange of the era connecting these phones. So you can actually use the exhibits for real and phone other telephones in the room.

Talking for hours

Wow, a Schlagring I can really touch!
Wow, a Schlagring I can really touch!

Siegfried and Simone only speak German. My German is far from perfect and it was quite an effort for me to converse with them. Nevertheless we talked a lot, about the museum, my collection, certain exhibits. For me it was a good opportunity to ask many questions I had for a long time and Siegfried showed how he scans all kinds of documents, books and diagrams to make them available for others (at a small fee).

The shop: scanned documents, some literature, old publications and some phone stuff

Morbach museum shop
Morbach museum shop

Most museums have a shop and the Deutsches TelefonMuseum does too. But what it sells is a little different. No trinkets, no mugs, no stickers, no postcards but scanned & printed documentation like books and old catalogues, etc. Also there were original books & magazines. All of it in German of course. There was even some original telephone equipment for sale, so I bought a very nice white W48 with a blinker. Mind you, most of the telephones were incomplete and interesting as a source of parts. Nevertheless there were some complete telephones on offer, but I understand Siegfried does not always have some for sale.

Loot from Morbach
Loot from Morbach

So I was lucky. I also took home a so called Bonsai telephone in need of restoration. It is a smaller version of the Modell 36 and quite rare. This specimen was incomplete and with a heavily damaged housing. A very interesting project, but not for the novice.

It is well worth a visit!

Museum Morbach exhibit
Museum Morbach exhibit

Obviously I had a great time. Not only because I am a collector. Even if you are not a telephone addict, the museum gives you an insight to design, progressing technology and of course for a lot of us a warm feeling of nostalgia, to see these once every day household items again. And it gives you a hands on, ears on and even nose on experience. It is a real technological petting zoo, which is quite unique. And not in the least, kids will love this museum too!

Goodbye but perhaps not farewell: Sammlertreffen! (Collectors meet)

Museum Morbach teleprinter
Museum Morbach teleprinter

Dizzy with all kinds of new information and filled to the brim various impressions of the museum I was starting to make my goodbyes, when I asked Simone and Siegfried about the Sammlertreffen I read about on the website (http://www.deutsches-telefon-museum.eu/treffen.htm). Well, the Sammlertreffen (collectors meet) is not just a little gettogether with a couple of collectors. It is a convention with a lot of swapping an selling going on. It lasts an entire weekend, usually in april.

Siemens & Halske Modell 29 Hockender Hund
Siemens & Halske Modell 29 Hockender Hund

Not only does the museum host the Sammlertreffen, Simone cooks for most of the collectors that are staying in hotels and guest rooms in the vicinity. And they all have breakfast too. With pride she showed all kinds of pictures of the meals she prepared and the collectors enjoying it. If you are interesting in going to the next Sammlertreffen, you can find more information on the museums website. Even the menu is published in advance. So I think I will visit again. Perhaps I will go to the next Treffen. After all, it combines my 2 great hobbies: telephones and food.

Deutsches Telefonmuseum

http://www.deutsches-telefon-museum.eu/

Jugendherbergstraße 25
54497 Morbach

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 14 – 17 hrs
Sundays and Holidays: 10.30 – 17 hrs
or you can call to make an appointment (in German)

065 33 – 95 86 26
067 82 – 69 91
0170 – 5 71 86 60

Closed from nov. 1st – may 1st

deutsches-telefon-museum@t-online.de

1 Comment

  1. quite a good chronicle Arwin!
    one question, is the black telephone at the last picture of the bottom, an one-piece phone, like a contemporary, an early ancestor, or even an inspiration for the LM-Ericsson Ericofon? (made by Siemens…)

    thanks for sharing.
    Saludos desde Colombia!

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