Telephone collectors, help me! I have this weird need to buy ugly stuff…..

The world needs you poster
The world needs you poster
DFG Modell Lyon
DFG Modell Lyon

Please help me! I keep buying revolting fake phones. They trigger my curiosity and I cannot find enough information on line about these to satisfy my needs. This is really problematic. But it is totally not my fault. Others make me do it.

Because it is not only because my own morbid interest in weird things, people ask me questions about these. Non-collectors owning such a phone, approach me wanting to know more about them. It leaves me with feeling frustrated that I can only say a few generic things about these.

I end up with stuff I do not want. I end up with stuff the wife does not want. To get rid of it, I have to spend time and effort to sell it or give it away.

By fake phones I mean, in this case, phones that were made to look much older than they actually were. Sometimes they are partly made of older phones, sometimes they are entirely newly made. Sometimes they are genuine old phones, have had a bling bling treatment.

Uglyness is in the eye of the beholder

Telcer the Executive side
Telcer the Executive side

Don’t get me wrong, I find these kind of phones horrible. But there are other peoples who find them absolutely beautiful. Tastes differ. Many collectors do not like phones like these.

Reasons for the dislike and intensity vary. Some feel a strong urge to utterly destroy them. My dislike is somewhat milder, probably because of my curiosity.
So everything I write about this is my personal opinion. What bothers me is that they are made to look like something they are not, often looking more antiquey than the original old phones themselves.
Do you love phones like this? Respect. Enjoy them.

Holy ships! What is that!

Radzug Nummernschalter
Radzug Nummernschalter

What on earth is that? Who made them? How were they put together? What is inside? And of course, what drove people to produce such a thing?

I have most of these questions with any phone that is unknown to me, of course. These questions are stronger, the weirder the phone. This is not just the case with fake antiques, but also other freaky things like the Trommelwähler, Ericofon, Genie, the Radzug Nummernschalter (see picture).

So I google around and find almost no information about phones these repro fake old phones. Often all I can find is old sales adverts on ebay. Other collectors almost never write about these. I can understand that. They do not want to write about phones they do not like, I guess.

They know!

A number of collectors standing around knowing stuff
A number of collectors standing around knowing stuff

To my astonishment, when these phones are discussed on line, other collectors appear to know quite a lot about them. There is often a fellow telephone-nut that knows the maker, years of production, what dial mechanism was used, and many other peculiarities. They just shake it out of their sleeve, as we say here in the Netherlands!

I am really surprised by that. When I search the net, I find little to nothing. But when asked, the oh so well informed collectors of this world spew all kinds of information like there is no tomorrow. They argue on line about the smallest little detail of Western Electric 300s, but keep stumm about the biggest hole in information since the library of Alexandria burnt down. Is there some kind of taboo?

Look at what you made me do!

Onyx telephone
Onyx telephone

So I end up getting horrid things, because others do not share what they know. I do this for the greater good of mankind.
That is how I explained it to my wife. Other collectors can’t be bothered to share what they know online. Somebody has to do the dirty work.

It leaves me few alternatives. So I spend some of my hard earned cash on freaky fakes. Cash I can no longer spend on other things.
Also they take up space and time, that I cannot spend on normal phones. Do you see how heavy the burdon is for me? And you are to blame!

Collectors of the world, do you duty!

The world needs you poster
The world needs you poster

Should I be the only one doing this? Certainly not.

This is a call to arms for telephone collectors of the world! Do the decent thing and write what you know about these. Share and publish for the good of telephone history, so that others may learn.

Step up to the plate and do you bit for humanity and posterity. So we can all learn from it and make the right choice. So that whenever we see one of these fruits from the darks side, we can all make the right choice and walk away.

I call you out, you amateur telecommunications historians and leisure time phone scholars, to not write what you want, but to publish what this world needs! Have you made this world a better place today yet and added to the body of knowledge about the dark side of telephony?


  1. I collect old phones and old cameras!! It’s ridiculous but I find them to be beautiful!! I actually have that Onyx and gold plated phone! Found it and many others at estate sales and antique malls. is pretty good at identifying vintage “stuff”

  2. Arvin, I’m sorry, when twisted telephone cable first appeared.
    This can help in determining the year of manufacture and the authenticity of the device.

  3. Καλημερα σας απο Αθηνα.Ειναι πολυ καλο αυτο που κανετε, ειμαι και γω συλλεκτης παλαιων τηλεφωνων και θα ηθελα να ειμαστε σε επαφη.

    • Hi, thank you for your message. Very nice to hear from a fellow collector of old telephones. Can you please use English? I do not speak Greek. Sorry.
      I used google translate to write this in the Greek language.

      Best Regards,

      Γεια σας, ευχαριστώ για το μήνυμά σας. Πολύ ωραίο να ακούσεις από έναν συνάδελφο συλλέκτη παλαιών τηλεφώνων. Μπορείτε να χρησιμοποιήσετε αγγλικά; Δεν μιλάω ελληνικά. Συγνώμη. Χρησιμοποίησα το google translate για να το γράψω στην ελληνική γλώσσα. Vriendelijke groeten, Άργουιν

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