Building an antique or historic telephone collection

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OLD TELEPHONES... make great investments     historic collectables  nostalgic pieces  home decorator items.

Wise use of Ebay's powerful search engines  gives access to great telephone items worldwide. But deciding on a theme frees the buyer from 'needing' everything they see; facilitating  the best use of spending power .

Themes can include bakelite telephones, wooden phones, historic components tracing telephone development, novelty telephones, and even toy phones .  Others might be  old telephone advertising and  manufacturers' catalogues or actual telephone directories,  which provide rich social-history about the  lives and times of people who used and made telephones.

Having decided on a theme it is a good idea to do some research.  Ebay's advanced search page can view completed auctions, as well as current ones.  Imaginative use of search terms can indicate what the pieces you like should fetch in the market.  Beware of one-off's where competition has pushed the price up unnaturally high. If things that interest you don't come up often this might suggest they are better investments.  (However, try and link with reliable telephone collector associations - use a search engine- before launching into large-scale spending!)

Know your phones! 
There are many helpful, inexpensive, modern books  (such as those illustrated) - most of which turn up on Ebay eventually.  As well, the serious, historical collector (or the investor) might want to gather up some of the beautiful, though expensive, early textbooks and phone company instructions etc.

With experience, a collector's interests tend to narrow.  A good collection is one which has depth and quality- not just a broad selection of miscellaneous objects!  So why not sell items that don't directly fit the theme.  Even if a loss is made, the experience is worthwhile and the money  can be used to upgrade!

Don't be scared to learn some skills in restoration  either.  Incomplete items can be cheaper, and with a good telephone knowledge base and contact network, the missing part can be  tracked down on Ebay.  Finally, a word on the home decorator market.  Original phones or accurate, restorations are for the serious collector or investor.  The 'home decorator'  however is far more concerned with art and appearance than authenticity.  There is usually a lot of polished brass, and dials  may be fitted  for contemporary use.  These phones are not usually completely genuine.  The art aspect calls for originality and creativity in blending old and reproduced parts to give the desired 'look', and if done well they can actually be worth more than unrestored originals.    But  try and decide from the photos, and questions to sellers, how just well the work has been done!  Your telephone interests can give a lot of pleasure, and be profitable investments.  As with all collecting, there are risks.  However knowledge and networking minimise these.  Ebay offers enormous potential to develop the type of telephone collection you want , if worked with care, patience, and growing knowledge! 

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