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What Is a Candlestick Telephone?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 16, 2024
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One of the first types of communication equipment produced in the United States was a candlestick telephone. This device consists of a round base and tall, thin centerpiece or "candle stick." On top of the stick phone is a mouthpiece for people to talk into. The earpiece is located on the side of the telephone and is attached to the unit by a piece of rope. This telephone equipment is made from brass or wood and can be painted black or unfinished.

The candlestick telephone was first introduced around 1892, and production on these models continued until the 1920s. They were manufactured in the United States and most often sold there as well. At that time, wall-mounted phones became more commonly-used than these types, so production of candlestick models ceased.

This stick phone consists of a round base that contains a rotary dial. It is used by placing a finger into the numbered hole and then turning the dial to the right until it stops. After this, a user can pick up the receiver, which is located on the side of the device, and listen through the earpiece on the top of the antique candlestick telephone.

The centerpiece of a candlestick telephone is very long and narrow. It may be anywhere from 18 to 24 inches (47.72 60.96 cm) long and around 4 inches (10.16 cm) in diameter. Atop this narrow piece is a round earpiece, which contains a small speaker in the center of it. The speaker is normally located squarely in the center of the earpiece and may protrude anywhere from 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) to 2 inches (5.08 cm).

Most of the time, this phone was made from brass, but some models may be partly wood. An antique candlestick telephone could have a wooden base and desk stand, or merely the center piece could be wooden. The dial section is normally steel or aluminum. Many were left unpainted, but some models were painted black as well.

Although this upright telephone is no longer produced, many that were manufactured during that time are still in use today. People who like to collect antiques often purchase them as a conversation piece. Some models of antique candlestick phones are worth a great deal of money, so many people are unable to afford them. The good news is that several companies make reproduction models, so people can buy a candlestick telephone whether they plan to use this equipment or simply for nostalgic purposes.

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