Instructables

What is this thing?

I picked this up for 5 bucks at a garage sale. It looks like an old phone device but the part you would speak and listen into is missing.

The one label that it has is too damaged for me to read it.

Any ideas on what this is?

Picture of What is this thing?
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Kiteman11 months ago
Yeh, old telephone, 1900-1920 ish.
Kiteman look at the carpet behind it to small for a telephone got to be a music box one you crank and play.
I was thinking "trench phone". Weren't they smaller?
Much more helpful when they open the box and show you the size isn't it call box replica music boxes were a fad at one time. At least with a look inside we can tell it is a call box.
Yes they are smaller but by the weave in the carpet and the boards in the hard wood floor I would say that box is about 1.5 x 1.5 x 2 inches or there about.
tragicallyhip11 months ago
It looks like it could be one half of an early telephone system circa. 1880, the other half being a rudimentary hearing/speaking device. That's my best guesstimate .

Tragic
WhatWasIthinking (author) 11 months ago
Thanks for all the input so far. After cracking it open I found a disk and some wires that look like a very old speaker. The bulk of it seems to be a power generator for some kind of ring or signal.

All of the important labels are damaged to the point I can't see a name or number. Just a date and a very simple diagram.
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Very cool. So it's a very old call box of some sort. I'd guess it was used in an industrial setting such as a mine. The kind of thing they would have set up at the top and bottom of the mine shaft for communications.

The crank turns a dynamo that charges capacitors so the audio can be transmitted and received. If the switch is on ring it sends the charge down the line to set off the bell on the other unit or units. Looks like that one is missing the bell. In the upper left corner of the box is the bell ringer. A couple of coils that drive a small metal rod to strike the bell. I doubt the speaker works but it could be restored to working order. But not much use without another one.
RavensCraft11 months ago
If you magnify the photo of the side with the indicator knob and two terminals
and rotate the image counter clockwise you can see is faint embossed lettering.

The left hand position says "TALK"
The right hand position says "RING"

It must be some kind of communicatons device.

Got to be a music box one you crank and play.
mpilchfamily11 months ago
It could be an old call box. Open it up and show us the inside. Maybe someone can figure it out better once they see the inner workings.
If i had to guess i'd say you have everything there. I suspect the crank charges it up and may send a signal down the line to set off a ringer or other notifier that the box is active. I think the button on the front is the talk button. So the box acts like a wired walky-talky where the speaker also acts as the mic when the button is pressed.

Just a wild guess for now.
rickharris11 months ago
Very hard to say - what is inside it?
khalidar211 months ago
i am not sure , but i think its a megger or alarm usning handel to produce a sound from the speaker .