New Haven, CT Phone Directory 1898.

Hi everyone! Things have been pretty busy with school (I’m in the midst of a career change) and family goings-on, but I came across this and the history-geek that I am thought it was interesting.

On June 17, Christie’s Auction House will have up for sale the oldest known Telephone Directory in the US. Published by the Connecticut District Telephone Co. in November 1878, the directory consists of almost 40 pages. It is estimated to sell for $30,000 – $40,000.

Contents include: Title, directions for use of battery bell, push button, and magneto call bell phones, and guidelines for use of the district messenger (a large proportion of the first phone calls were devoted to ordering messengers) and district phone system. The list of subscribers is just over 400.

The instructions provided in the Directory for correct use of the telephone, the first such directions ever published, include much sound advice: “Never take the Telephone off the hook unless you wish to use it….Should you wish to speak to another subscriber… you should…commence the conversation by saying Hulloa!’ When you are done talking, say That is all!’, and the person spoken to should say ‘O.K.’ … While talking, always speak slow and distinct, and let the telephone rest lightly against your upper lip, leaving the lower lip and the jaw free…” The push button phone bore slightly different requirements: “After speaking, transfer the telephone from the mount to the ear very promptly … When replying to a communication from another, do not speak too promptly … Much trouble ensues from both parties speaking at the same time…. No subscriber will be allowed to use the wire for more than three minutes at a time, or more than twice in an hour, without first obtaining permission from the main office… Any person using profane or otherwise improper langauge, should be reported at this office immediately.” (pp. 4-5).

A telephone listening room at the 1881 Paris Electrical Exhibition. Listeners held a telephone receiver to each ear, in order to hear the theater program in stereo.
Telephone office in early 19th century shows old telephone equipment. Two male operators sit at telephones, man in center of photo talk on telephone, while two men on left work with cables. ITT Telephone switching station, Philadelphia, PA

More info on Telephone history:

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