Silver Dollar Coin Phone

The #3 Gray Silver Dollar Paystation dates back to the early 1900s. The set has coin slots for nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars and silver dollars. The coin drawer at the bottom of the set was—of course—locked for security. Most paystations had a separate transmitter mounted in the coin box so that the operator could hear what type of coin was deposited. For most coin phones, a nickel rang one bell, a dime two bells, and a quarter was a single chime.

Bon Marche Coin Phone

This small public station “boothette” was once located in the ladies lounge at the famous Bon Marche department store in downtown Seattle. If you think the coin telephone installed here is old, would you believe that it’s actually an upgrade from an even older telephone? Our museum staff has examined the backboard behind the telephone you see here. The pattern of holes in the back panel indicates that there was once a Western Electric model 1317 wooden magneto wall phone with a Gray coin collector installed here.

Coin set display incl. Gray Shield Collector

Coin service was important, and not just for those away from home. For many years, telephone service was relatively expensive and not everyone could afford (or wanted) a telephone in their home. For these customers, paystations were a convenient way for keeping in touch. Coin collecting sets changed over the years as the technology of the central telephone office improved.

Coin Counter Circa 1940s

This is a counting machine used to tabulate collection from coin-operated telephones. Note that it does not count pennies. Most paystations only collected nickels, dimes, and quarters.

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