SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Well-Connected: 1955

Well-Connected: 1955

Circa 1955 in Columbus, Georgia. "Switchboard" is all it says here. Smile so they can hear it! 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Smooth Operator

Only thing wrong with this picture is that she is operating key number six while plugging in with cord number twelve. The call will be connected but they won't be able to hear each other. I actually installed these things back in the 70s.

tterace beat me to it.

I was going to upload an image of the faceplate to one of the stamp machines I found at the bottom of the Russian River while fishing for steelhead one winter. Looks like mine is from a more inflationary time.


In the background we can see a famed Royal HH, chosen by such serious typists as Truman Capote, Elia Kazan, and even George Burns. As I type on a benign Dell keyboard I can see across my office a royal with a non-descript wrinkle paint finish and green keys such as this.

City Club

The middle line on the pad appears to be "City Club."

It's all in the details...

Wondering what that "thing" is behind the typewriter...the rattan that a high school class ring? she a "Breck" blonde? So many questions...

Western Electric 551 PBX

This switchboard is the older 551 style, with the flip-to-talk switches on the horizontal panel. The later 555 had rotary switch levers on the upright portion.

You can see a couple of these switchboards in the lobby of the Hotel Congress in Tucson, AZ. They were removed from the Pioneer Hotel c.1974. (One of them lived in my dining room for 10 years!)

Congress also has a 555 switchboard behind the front desk that still works. I somehow manage to keep it going, mostly by putting bright stickers on the knobs so they don't get turned to the wrong settings.


I am entranced by her left hand: the grip on the switch so soft, the poised index finger so delicate.

Save a trip to the Postoffice

I always presumed that slogan was on these privately-owned and operated vending machines as an attempt to mollify people who had to spend 10¢ for a 6¢ Air Mail stamp and 5¢ for a 3-center. They generated two types of comments at the real Post Office: people who assumed they were PO-owned complained about the extra cost, and others would ask if selling stamps for more than their face value wasn't illegal.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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