Click to enlargePayphone History Book

Payphone History is a comprehensive history of the payphone, covering the time period from the first payphones in the late nineteenth century, continuing into the late twentieth century, tracing the developments of new technology and improvements in payphone design as the years went along. The book is heavily illustrated, containing numerous photographs, drawings, and diagrams. A large section of the book is devoted to payphone-related items such as booths and signs. Payphone History includes images of a tremendous variety of payphone signs, including over 50 lighted signs, signs printed on unusual materials, such as horse blankets, and many examples of signs attached to buildings. A 75-page section of the book contains 927 images of old porcelain signs. The signs are organized according to subject, such as Bell or Shield. The author provides footnotes that explain the origin and use of these symbols.

Payphone History contains plenty of technical material to be of interest to the serious telephone collector as well as much information that would appeal to the general reader who simply enjoys reading about history and likes to reminisce about old phones and old times. Please see the photos above for samples of the information contained in the book as well as images of the front and back covers. The book is softcover and has 475+ pages. Payphone History was published in 2008.

The author of Payphone History has accumulated, repaired, and sold antiques of all kinds since 1942. Since 1973, Ron Knappen has been pursuing his interest in antique telephones as a full-time endeavor, operating (along with his wife Mary) a business in western Wisconsin that refurbishes and sells old telephones and related accessories. The book reflects Ron's strong appreciation for old payphones, especially the classic 3-slot design that was so popular for much of the twentieth century. Over the years, Ron had gathered up a huge amount of payphone lore and technical information, so eventually he decided to organize the material and write it all down. This book was the direct result of his efforts to disseminate his knowledge of payphones.


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