SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
6000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Social Shorpy

Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Daily e-mail updates:

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

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]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Dial D for Danger: 1919

Dial D for Danger: 1919

Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. equipment." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


Interesting to see the modularization of that panel so early in the game. Very logical. Each module with a tube inside has associated jacks so that a meter box can be used to quickly check operating conditions.

The PA idea makes sense considering the connections for "long line" and "phonograph." Four tubes that size might realize a 1000-watt system.

Public Address System

That appears to be an old public address system with the capability to attach and simulcast over the "long lines" of the phone system. "Loud Speaking Receivers" would be bullhorns. Both consoles are nearly identical. Each console has four tubes with inputs to drive 1&2 and 3&4 separately.

This appears to be a system operator position, and not the position one would speak from. A microphone and a headset earpiece are between the consoles and are connected to the small box between them, not to either console. If I'm right, then the mic and headset would be to coordinate with the other half of this contraption -- probably near the speaker position and/or the other side of that "phonograph circuit."

Phonograph circuit

So why is there a "Phonograph cct"?

Danger: Yes!

Watch out for the carbon tetrachloride fire extinguisher; it's poisonous.

Knife switches and quarter-inch jacks

I'm just amazed at the number of porcelain-based knife switches that were used in the operation of the equipment. In looking closer you can see quarter-inch jack plugs, commonly called "phone" jacks. Which went on to become the standard for broadcast patch panels and guitar amplifiers and cables.

The vacuum tubes

in the amplifiers probably had 700 volts on their plate circuits.
My father's first ham (amateur radio) license was issued to him in 1919 and I remember components in our home that looked similar to those pictured.

Details, details

Click to enlarge. Then click the resulting image to expand it.


Shocking, isn't it?

The latest equipment

Of course it wouldn't be complete without a cuspidor.

Essential equipment

A fire extinguisher, and what seems to be a cuspidor. Furniture by Flintstone and Rubble.

Under the Capitol?

Looks like a temp facility in the same general location as this..

Maybe under the East Front? The columns give it away..


Fascinating glimpse onto transitional technology. I wonder if a higher resolution scan would allow the label to be read and some of the functions determined?

Lots of selector switches, several knife switches (looking like telegraph keys), some mics and one big honking speaker. And some lovely woodwork!


Very hi-tech stuff I'm sure, with the obligatory spittoon.

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.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2018 Shorpy Inc.