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Retro Telephone Overload

I mentioned we went on a road trip to Boston, MA and I promised to share a few highlights.  I found a pamphlet for the New Hampshire Telephone Museum when we were actually en route to Boston from Ottawa.  We had, only days earlier, watched Yes Man (for the 100th time), and I had just been thinking: “I wish I could go on a spontaneous trip and see a telephone museum”.  Not in a sarcastic way, but in a gal-who-relished-the-science-fair-in-school kind of way.

The New Hampshire Telephone Museum (in Warner, NH) is so mesmerizing.  Run by folks who worked in the biz, the museum has phones from every decade, starting with the earliest phones.  It really is interesting to see the progression of telephones and, really, how quickly we went from tin cans on strings to cell phones.

A “working” operator’s switchboard:

Photo via

The museum has a collection of phones from around the world.  Some really nifty examples:

Except for one.  CANADA’S!

Canadians: we need to find a more chic Canadian-made phone to donate to the museum.  We need to represent.

Readers are always asking for more photos of me.  Why?  I have no idea.  But I thought in a telephone museum, with my purdy new turquoise necklace ($5.00 at an antique shop) and actual wearing of non-yoga clothes (free from paint stains), I could channel just a little bit of Zooey Deschanel’s quirky chic?  Maybe look a little cool? 


Don’t mind my slept-in-the-car hair.  It needed a good brush.  But I was so excited to see the phones!  The phones!!

We learned so many things, I’m trying really hard not to just bombard you with facts.  But for every commenter who says “hey, nice phones” I’ll share a fun phone fact!  How’s that for geeky?

P.S. Here’s the clip from Yes Man I’m talking about.  Haven’t seen the movie?  What are doing at work? Take a sick day and rent it!



  1. Jessica
    April 19, 2012 / 4:19 pm

    i love that movie and am so happy you found a great telephone museum. i need to travel more. Your necklace looks good. is it glass? "hey, nice phone". do I get a phone fact?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 19, 2012 / 7:09 pm

      Jessica, thanks for playing along. Lol. Telephone operators used to be younger boys (mid-teens) until their incessant goofing off had them replaced with more responsible women.My necklace is actually plastic! Which is nice, because it's much lighter. It has a few different shades of colour, which makes it seem more glowy.

  2. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
    April 19, 2012 / 7:09 pm

    Sorry folks! At 3:00pm today I realized my blog wasn't showing up in anyone's dashboards/blog readers. I promise I'm not lazy posting (it was up mid-morning, as usual). I figured out the problem, too: a photo I copied and pasted and didn't save and upload. Good to know. Be sure to check in tomorrow, because I'm hosting a giveaway!

  3. Beth
    April 19, 2012 / 7:12 pm

    The lemon yellow phone from Mexico is darling.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 19, 2012 / 7:49 pm

      I think the Italian marble phone takes the cake 😉

  4. Adding the finishing touch
    April 20, 2012 / 8:05 pm

    Wow, I love all those phone. I want one for my house NOW!

  5. Sheila @SZInteriors
    April 20, 2012 / 8:46 pm

    Love the phones – there's something about the good 'ol black ones that just works for me! And that pic of the switchboard operators is awesome! But you're right, the Italian marble phone takes the cake!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 20, 2012 / 9:14 pm

      The basic black phones from the 40's and 50s are so much more beautiful than our basic phones today. Sigh. Some of our technology is so ugly and it has become so crucial.It was really exciting to see the demonstration of how the operator's switchboard worked! What a busy job that must have been!

  6. Dana@Mid2Mod
    April 21, 2012 / 4:44 am

    Hey, nice phones! (And they really, really are.) I love all that minty goodness going on in the background.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 21, 2012 / 4:04 pm

      They are, aren't they?Thanks for playing along :DThe pay phone I photographed had different slots for different coins. Each slot made a different sound, so operators – who could distinguish between the sounds – knew if you have inserted the right amount of money to make a call.

  7. Miss Charming
    April 22, 2012 / 12:52 pm

    It sounds like a fun trip. I agree that the older phones had so much more character than ours today.

  8. Miss Charming
    April 22, 2012 / 12:52 pm

    It sounds like a fun trip. I agree that the older phones had so much more character than ours today.

  9. Graham Gifford
    September 18, 2013 / 12:25 pm

    Hi Tanya – I found you blog along with all those fabulous pictures – my name is Graham and I work at the New Hampshire Telephone Museum!! I'm posted your awesome images, along with a link to your site for our Facebook audience.Great post – thanks for blogging…….

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