American Bell Desk Telephone Set, Used at the Opening of the Boston to Chicago Telephone Line, 1893

Summary

This ornate desk telephone was used by Governor William Russell during the opening demonstration of the Boston-Chicago long-distance telephone line. Reporters marveled at how two cities could be "united by a strand of copper, 1200 miles long." This exchange was an early hub of AT&T's long-distance network, allowing a swift collapse of distance through the connecting power of innovative telecommunication.

This ornate desk telephone was used by Governor William Russell during the opening demonstration of the Boston-Chicago long-distance telephone line. Reporters marveled at how two cities could be "united by a strand of copper, 1200 miles long." This exchange was an early hub of AT&T's long-distance network, allowing a swift collapse of distance through the connecting power of innovative telecommunication.

Artifact

Telephone

Date Made

1892-1893

Subject Date

07 February 1893

Creators

American Telephone & Telegraph Company 

American Bell Telephone Company 

Place of Creation

United States, Massachusetts, Boston 

Creator Notes

Long distance service provided by American Telephone & Telegraph Company on equipment provided by American Bell Telephone Company.

Location

Not on exhibit to the public.

Object ID

36.147.32

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Michigan Bell Telephone Company

Material

Brass (Alloy)
Copper alloy
Iron alloy
Nickel (Metal)
Silver (Metal)
Wood (Plant material)
Textile

Dimensions

Height: 45 in

Width: 25 in

Length: 33.5 in

Inscriptions

plaque: AT THE FORMAL OPENING OF THE / BOSTON-CHICAGO TELEPHONE LINE / ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7th, 1893 / THIS SET OF INSTRUMENTS COMPRISING CABINET DESK / NO. 601, SOLID BACK TRANSMITTER NO 15,109 / AND HAND TELEPHONE NO 276-816-A WAS USED AT THE / BOSTON END OF THE LINE BY / HIS EXCELLANCY WILLIAM E. RUSSELL, / GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS, / AND OTHERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE OPENING / CEREMONIES AT THE OFFICE OF THE / AMERICAN TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH CO. / NO.125 MILK ST., BOSTON. transmitter: PATENTED AUG 2 81 . . . NOV 1 92 PROPERTY OF THE AMERICAN BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY desk: PATENTED APR. 16 1878 . . . DEC. 23 1884 / MADE FOR THE AMERICAN BELL TELEPHONE CO. AND LICENSED TO BE USED ONLY WITH IT'S [sic] TELEPHONES / 601

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