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    Telephone Museum | Winter 2012 Out Here Magazine

    Historical telephones, switchboards, and memorabilia fill the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum

    Out Here

    By Matt Miller

    Photography by Maryann Bates

    Telephone collector Tommy Smith's unique and historical collection grew so much that he decided to open a museum dedicated to the world-changing communication device.

    Smith, who is CEO of Citizens Telephone Co., in Leslie, Ga., has filled his museum with rare mid-20th century telephones, along with samples of the very first telephones, handmade by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson in their Boston workshop in the 1870s.

    The museum also contains a collection of material related to former President Jimmy Carter — whose Plains, Ga., home is just down the road.

    These treasures are a small part of his collection:

    long distance phone with exposed acid battery jars

    This long-distance box telephone with exposed acid battery jars was typical of residential telephones found in American homes between 1890 and 1910.

     
    1890s Western Electric phone

    This candlestick phone was made by Western Electric for the American Bell Co. in the 1890s. This particular model features a "watch case" receiver and a distinctive art nouveau-inspired handle.

     
    1890s Ericsson Co. phone

    Designed by the Ericsson Co. in the 1890s, this early model "Eiffel Tower" telephone was a hit in Europe and the United States, and was one of the first desktop telephones.

     
    1905 Kellog Bakelite phone

    The standard-issue 1905 Kellogg Bakelite candlestick telephone fits perfectly inside this art deco sculpture, specifically made for this purpose.

     
    candlestick phone with attachment

    A candlestick phone contains the popular "Hush-A-Phone" attachment, an aftermarket product designed to contain sound and minimize ambient noise to help a telephone user speak confidentially.

     
    Jimmy Carter phone

    During President Jimmy Carter's administration, Citizens Telephone Co. installed switchboards and telephones throughout the president's Plains, Ga., home with secure lines to the White House.

     
     
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