A couple of months ago I put together a photo series of long-abandoned televisions. The dated technology and retro designs of such sets are always interesting, but for me at least, it’s the quietness they seem to emanate that really makes them special. Screens that families once sat around and socialised in front of now left unused and utterly silent, creating a weird sense of loss of sorts. A feeling I also get with old telephones, so it made sense to put together a similar collection.
At some point in the past we’ve all waited desperately for a phone to ring, or indeed dreaded that once common sound, but these old-school models, photographed over a period of 10 years or so, will never take a call again. All those long-ago conversations they were once privy to now lost in time — connections, both literal and otherwise, having disappeared forever into the void. Yet in many ways that doesn’t matter in the slightest, as looking at them now, almost entirely without context, it’s arguably just as interesting to speculate on who might have used them, and what they may have talked about.
Very cool set. A time when telephones were just telephones!
Cheers. Yes, just one (relatively) simple job back then!
Every telephone should sit on its own cushion! 😉
I know eh? A colour like that perhaps warranted a cushion back then.
Lovely series you’ve accumulated here:) as far as colors go I really like the second one picture with the mint colored phone and faded red cushion. The phone in picture 5 off the hook with the reserved sign next to it is especially something. Almost as if it is reserved to never be used again. Beautiful work.
I hope you’re doing well. Best wishes to you and take care:)
Cheers, that’s very kind of you. Yeah, that colour is really something, and I know exactly what you mean about reservation phone. The taping on it suggests it took an awful lot of bookings back in the day as well.
Thanks a lot. I’m managing, which at the moment is probably the best I can hope for.
Managing is a good thing right now. With support and time things will get better. Take care of yourself.
Thanks ever so much. And will do. Just taking things one day at a time.
I agree they are all very quiet like you so eloquently wrote and I also feel more poignancy after your last post. Please accept my deepest condolences. Your photos give lots of people joy. I’m sure your wife knew that and was very proud of you. Take care of yourself.
Cheers. These were put together a little while ago, but yes, there’s perhaps a bit more in them now. And thanks ever so much. That’s really kind of you and absolutely lovely to hear.
Ah, Lee. You know how to make me happy 🙂 What a wonderful collection of photographs. I love old phones, and your words eloquently describe why.
In honour of the moment I have just picked up the receiver of the old rotary phone I’ve altered to play music from all times and locales, dialled 0081 for Japan and 1970 for the year and am now hearing a song from that place and decade. Maybe one of those phones heard the same song in the background at one time.
Happy to oblige! Thanks a lot, it was interesting going back and putting these together.
Ah, that phone really does sound wonderful. And yes, a distinct possibility one of them did. Certainly nice to think so anyway.
Great set of photos. Thinking about what it was like waiting for a phone to ring — how you used to have to make sure you were near it, because you couldn’t carry it in your pocket. Amazing how much things have changed.
Thanks a lot. Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for not being constantly tied to a phone, and yet at the same time, not being near one for important calls had its drawbacks as well.
Nice phonography Lee!
You reminded me that I briefly worked in feature phone development. Ironically I am drawn to the minimalist ‘easy clean’ red phone, albeit with a special key that perhaps . .’plays a little melody’.
Was it an interesting job, or did you just end up, ahem, phoning it in?
Yes, I was drawn to the melody button. To put someone on hold perhaps? But more importantly, what kind of melody did it once play…?
Oh dear :O) There were certainly some key moments, but there wasn’t much storage space for the code so I just had to pack it in.
If it was a ‘hold’ button the melody would be more onerous.
(warning: images of old cameras)
Ah, lovely. Kraftwerk and cameras. That’s a tough combination to beat.
Interestingly, it was the older analog phones that had a superior audio quality. So the memories associated with the oldest of those you have shown do have a story to tell. Newer doesn’t always imply better.
In a little bar I’ve been in a few times, the owner still uses a lovely black rotary phone. I asked him why he’d never changed it, and he said exactly the same, that the sound quality was way better on his old one.
I grew up using rotary phones like those. You could get them in any color you wanted.,..as long as it was black! Many homes had ONE phone….either in the kitchen or a hallway. Life was so much simpler then…..sigh.
Our first one (quite late in the day) was green — not all that dissimilar to the one in the first photo if my memory is correct. Just the one too, and yes, in the hallway!
Your photos continue to astound me. A witness to an era gone by, where people appear to have just walked away and never returned.
Thank you very much, that’s really good to hear. Yes. I often wonder how people left. Was it in a rush? Did it involve wistful looks around, and tough decisions about what to take and what to leave behind? Or did they just close the door and never look back?
Second photo : no dust on the phone.
Is there a ghost keeping it clean ?
Nice set by the way !
That’s a good point. Hadn’t thought about that. Not sure why that is, but a telephone cleaning ghost is an interesting possibility.