Vintage 1950s dial & touch-tone phones came in lots of decorator colors

Look how colorful vintage 50s phones used to be!

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In the 1950s (and into the 1960s), telephones were more than just a means of communication — they were pretty household decorations! In the decades to follow, phone colors segued to the avocado green, harvest gold and burnt orange colors so popular in the 70s — followed by the oh-so-boring brown and beige phones that dominated the 80s.

But 1950s phones! Oh my… Phones of that era were available in a variety of pretty colors — think bubble gum pink, baby blue, mint green and white and butter yellow (not unlike the pastel bathrooms of the day), as well as the uniquely bold lipstick red phone — which made them a popular choice for style-forward households.

The popularity of these colorful phones continued well into the 1960s, and they remain popular even today as a symbol of vintage charm. Many people collect these phones as a nostalgic reminder of the past and as a symbol of a time when landline telephones were considered an essential decor element.

New trend to color phones (1956)

The Indianapolis Star (Indiana) May 23, 1956

The Hoosier homemaker in this era of convenient living has put an old friend to a new use to help her save steps and time in her daily duties.

The new friend is the kitchen telephone, now available in eight decorator colors to even help her add a colorful touch to the kitchen.

Indiana Bell reports that, during the last year, hundreds of homemakers — both young and old — have taken advantage of the beauty and convenience of the kitchen telephone.

LIFE Feb 18, 1966 telephones

Heading the popularity list for the decorating-conscious women is the ivory wall telephone.

The wall-type phone has won special favor because it saves precious space in the kitchen. It also permits the most convenient placement in the room.

Ivory has overshadowed its companion colors in popularity because of its versatility in decorating schemes.

It is one of the eight colors that were selected by Howard Ketcham, noted color specialists, who developed the eight colors for the telephones. Ivory, the lightest of the eight, is recommended by Ketcham as “extremely attractive in rooms finished in light colors, or in dark or light rooms which have ivory or white trim.

Fancy old dial telephones - Vintage tech

In the runner-up spot in Indianapolis among homemakers is the green wall phone.

The other colors are brown, gray, red, beige, yellow and blue. Each tone was created by Ketcham to harmonize or contrast with virtually any decorating scheme.

B. A. Hollingsworth, Indianapolis division manager of the telephone company, said that telephones in colors give the homemaker an almost unlimited field in decorating her kitchen planning center.

“There are many color combinations available in cabinets, stoves and refrigerators,” he said, “and the housewife now can augment the color scheme in her kitchen with the telephone.”

He said that while the wall-type telephone has been the most popular in the kitchen, many housewives still prefer the regular telephone installed on the counter.

How to be a perfect '50s housewife: In the kitchen

Taking a call in bed - pink telephone 1950s

“The most important factor is that the kitchen telephone provides the housewife with the convenience she now requires,” Hollingsworth added. “She can keep a watchful eye on food being prepared while making and receiving calls. It’s a matter of reaching instead of rushing for the telephone when it rings.”

The demand for telephones in color from across the nation also is felt at the Indianapolis works of Western Electric, Where all telephones for the Bell System are manufactured.

Initially introduced to the public in 1954, the telephones in color immediately won wide public acceptance, and the demand has been increasing steadily since. Most colors are available now within a few days after the order is placed.

How do you use a rotary-dial phone? Find out, plus get top telephone tips from the olden days

LIFE Feb 17, 1958 Telephones

Vintage extension phones came in many colors to fit your home decor (1961)

(1) One-Button Phone: Can do one of several jobs—cut other extensions off your line, switch your phone to another line, or raise your phone’s hearing level.

Colorful telephones from 1961- One-Button Phone

(2) Extension Phones: Add step-saving conveniences with wall phone, desk set or Princess in colors that harmonize with furnishings in living, sleeping, work or play areas.

Home extension phones from 1961

(3) New Princess Phone: It’s little, it’s lovely and the dial lights up! At the flick of a switch, this phone glows with a soft night light. Fits anywhere.

SEE MORE OF THESE! Vintage Princess phones: Remember the colorful telephones with a lit dial from the 60s?

Colorful Princess phones 1961 (3)

Pastel vintage phones from the late 50s & early 60s

Spring’s a-ringin’ with convenient new phones in colorful tones!

Springs a ringin 1962 phones 2

50s phones in flower-fresh colors that will help you decorate

EXTENSION PHONES… like the lovely new Princess put springtime calls at your elbow in bedroom, kitchen, den or basement playroom.

When the ring’s for you, just reach for the nearest extension, save time and steps. For touches of beauty, choose the phones you need in flower-fresh colors that will help you decorate. The choice is wide, the cost is low.

Flower-fresh colors that will help you decorate

Like daffodils set to music

THE BELL CHIME . . . gives a new Spring lilt to your telephone service. Like daffodils set to music, melodic notes announce the calls for all your phones.

The Bell Chime can also be set for the regular ring or for a louder bell when fine weather takes you outdoors to garden or entertain. Comes in your choice of soft gold or ivory finishes.

Home telephones - Like daffodils set to music

Color phones from 1956

Telephones everywhere save many a step and a stair

HOME INTERPHONE . . . brings new convenience to springtime living. Now you can talk room-to-room, answer the door, over the same phones you use for regular calls. You can relay outside calls, even mind the baby, and save many a step and a stair.

Home interphone from Bell Telephone

Why you need a kitchen extension phone (1959)

First, it’s a great help in running the house — near shopping lists and at your fingertips for calls to the plumber or other repairmen.

Next, it saves you trouble. Biscuits won’t burn, or a pot boil over, because a telephone call took you out of the kitchen. And you can still keep a watchful eye on playing children.

It saves you lots of steps, too. Your husband, like you, will find it one of the most useful phones in your house.

And when all your work is done, it’s easy and fun to take a break and chat with a friend on your handy kitchen extension. Fact is, extension phones in the places your family works, sleeps and plays help no much and cost so little.

Spring-a-ling! It’s kitchen telephone time. Drop in soon at your local Bell Telephone business office and see the colorful kitchen phones on display there. One of them will be just right for your kitchen!

1950s housewife on a pink kitchen phone

An extension phone in your kitchen saves you everyday effort so you can enjoy more holiday fun

Much of the flurry of Christmas activity starts in your busy kitchen. And that’s where a handy extension phone belongs… within any reach for the many calls you make and receive.

It’ll save you stops by the dozens while you’re hating dozens of cookies. And it will save you time by the minutes when minutes  mean a lot of fun with family and friends. Indeed, extension phones throughout your home give you convenience and comfort. Christmas time and any time, wherever the family works, plays or sleeps.

They’re easy to order from your neighborhood Bell Telephone business office. Just call or drop in. And extension phones are available in a choice of attractive, popular colors.

P.S. Wouldn’t someone you know love an extension for Christmas?

Bell Telephone System: Extension phones around the house make life easier for the whole family

How do you use a rotary-dial phone

22 vintage kitchen ideas you don't see much anymore

Spring’s-a-Ringin – With convenient new 50s phones in colorful tones

Vintage rotary telephones for the home

Add new phones in decorator colors

Brightening up your home for spring? Mixing paints? Choosing new draperies? Now’s the time to add handy phones in color to complement your own decorating ideas!

Add new phones in decorator colors

Vintage Princess telephone in blue

More 50s phone colors – red, white, beige and more

1968 Christmas tree with colorful old phones

Red phones from 1955 – Because you love color

Red phones from 1955 - Because you love color Colorful Western Electric dial phones in 1957

These 50s phones are colorfully yours… from Western Electric

The showers of color you see above from thousands of tiny plastic pellets. These are the colorful “jewels” that Western Electric uses to give striking color to your ultra-modern Bell telephone.

All the colors of vintage dial telephones from 1960

Color, everyone?

Sure, but which? Here they are: nine of the glowing colors you may select in the handsome new phones Western Electric makes for Bell telephone companies…

The trend in telephones is definitely to color — in both home and office — to complement any decor, or for just the sheer fun of it. And we at Western Electric are happy to oblige; in fact, two thirds of all new telephones we make this year will be in color. The rest will be in traditional black.

Colors included white, aqua blue, ivory, light beige, white, light grey, rose pink & dark green

Color telephone receivers from 1960

Garden of phones - Vintage ad from 1960

Telephone handsets from 1962

Yellow gold phone from 1960

Mrs. Brown loves Beige

And we love giving Mrs. Brown what she likes by making telephones in this soft beige os as well as other lovely colors to fit in with any color scheme in home or office.

Besides these decorator color phones, your Bell telephone company has other items in color for Mrs. Brown and you. This includes telephones with illuminated dials and volume controls, plus Speakerphones and handy wall sets, which we at Western Electric make as part of our job as manufacturing and supply unit of the Bell System.

Of course, our job goes beyond making these new telephones. There are miles and miles of wire and cable and thousands of tons of intricate switching equipment which must serve dependably behind your telephone.

We make them, too. In fact, that’s our job in the Bell System… to produce the things needed by your telephone company to give you the dependable, attractive, convenient telephone service you want.

Love beige telephone receivers from 1957

Colorful home decor extension phones from 1965

Colorful home decor extension phones from 1965

A different way to make your phone colorful

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. As recently as the 1980s, most phones I encountered were either white, beige, gray or (in offices) black. Most people used whatever the phone company installed; for decades my parents had a battleship-gray rotary phone that was put in when they bought their house in the 1950s. It wasn’t until the AT&T breakup that you started to see a plethora of phone designs and colors.

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