Vintage Booklet Teaches People How to Use a Telephone

vintage etiquette guide telephone

It's hard to remember a time when telephones didn't exist, but this hilarious etiquette booklet from 1951 reminds us that there was a time when they needed an instruction manual. Published by Bell Telephone System, The Telephone and How We Use It was intended as a beginner's guide on all things telephone. Funnily enough, there's still some good advice to remember even in our digital age.

From reminding us why we use the telephone to a look at then common types of phones, the booklet is a reminder of a bygone era. The pamphlet mainly focuses on the rotary phone, which was rendered largely obsolete by the 1980s. Not sure which way the hold the receiver? The manual has got you covered. Want to know proper etiquette when taking a message? The booklet lists multiple scenarios.

“When you telephone, the other person cannot see you. He judges you by your voice.” In comparison with our increasing reliance on text messages, emoticons, and gifs to express our feelings, this warning is a reminder of how our methods of communication have changed.

Scroll on for more pages from the booklet, which will either conjure up nostalgia or leave you perplexed about the complexities of rotary phone etiquette past.

Pages from this old telephone “how to” booklet are a window to the past.

vintage etiquette guide telephone

how to use a vintage rotary phone

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h/t: [vintage everyday]

All images via Classic Rotary Phones.

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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