In 1894 when the Bell patents expired, the field of telephony was opened to the public. During the dates of the patents, the Bell Telephone Company, by virtue of it's extensive manufacturing plants, created a monopoly. Even so, many manufactures of telephones began to emerge. One such company was the Columbia Telephone Manufacturing Company of 136 and 140 Front Street, New York City.
Although little is know about the company, the telephones were manufactured under the patents of James McDonough and H.H. Eldred. Apparently, the entire Columbia telephone was manufactured and assembled by the company in its New York factory. Advertisements appeared during the year of 1894 for the company and its instruments. The pictorial cover of the November 24, 1894 edition of the Scientific American featured the Columbia Telephone system showing woodcuts of the woodworking shop, machine shop, foundry and assembly shop as well as its phones.
The Columbia phones have several unique features which set them aside from the others. Upon looking at this company's phones, one obvious uniqueness is a very different receiver being much more compact than the ordinary receiver measuring only three and a half inches long. While most receivers of the time were outside terminal, the Columbia receiver had internal contacts. The receiver has an eyehook placed midway on the side which enables it to be hung on the phone when not in use.
One of the interesting features is the battery switch. The receiver, when not in use, is suspended on a hook. Immediately above the hook is the handle of a switch which, when in place, prevents the receiver from being removed. To remove the receiver, the switch has to be thrown thus making the battery connecrtion enabling the talking circuit to be used. On a magneto phone, the bell will no longer ring once the switch is thrown. On a common battery or intercom system, once the buzzer sounds, it will continue until both parties throw the switch and remove the receiver. This arrangement dispenses with the gravity switch.
The pictured phone is a three box Columbia with the middle box transmitter mounted on a crow's foot. The top box houses a red overlapping three bar magneto and a horseshoe ringer. The bottom box has room for a single wet cell battery
C.Eby ATCA 6/92
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