Craftsman Earns Living Making Gold and Silver Telephones (Mar, 1935)

Craftsman Earns Living Making Gold and Silver Telephones

PORTER BLANCHARD, Los Angeles inventor, takes a great delight in beautifying the more simple household articles found in every home and has even gone so far as to produce telephones from silver and gold at a total cost of $500 each.
The phones, of the ordinary French type are entirely taken apart and dipped into an electroplating solution. Current is passed through the solution to plate the various telephone parts.
Several times during the process, the parts are removed and polished to a glossy smooth finish to insure an even result. The plating is about the thickness of paper.

9 comments
  1. ganmerlad says: March 21, 200910:07 am

    Oh those French with their ‘ordinary’ naked lady telephone receivers! Oh la la.

    As a side note, these phones proved to be a liability to home owners as home raids were undertaken just to steal the $500 phone ($1,467,023.00 in today’s money). Insurance companies insisted home owners lock them in the home’s safe, rendering them useless.

  2. waldo weir says: March 30, 20114:54 pm

    I own the phone shown in the photograph from the magazine. The caption is quite simplistic as Porter Blanchard was much more than a “hobbiest” and the phone was more than a “silver dipped French phone”. The original Kellog Switchboard tele was covered with a hammered silver & gold plated cover that depicts a nude female arched over the hand set. The base portion is a sculpted pedestal with a malichite stone in the center of the dial. The caption implies he churned out telephones as a hobby. There were in fact only seven phones made, six had a floral/vine motif and the seventh (pictured) was special in that it depicted a nude. The nude phone was crafted for Cecil B. DeMille, on contract, in late 1934. DeMille gifted Errol Flynn with the phone sometime after that. The phone was purchased from an estate sale following Flynn’s death by a Mr. Flich (A Hollywood film music director). It ended up in the possession of one of Mr. Flich’s maintenience men, a Mr. Fred Frye. I found the phone in a chicken coop on Mr. Frye’s property while doing some work for him. He gave me the phone in exchange for some labor.
    Porter Blanchard, a charter member of the Arts & Crafts movement of the ’20′s, was known as “The Silversmith of the Stars” in Hollywood circles and examples of his work are found in fine arts museums around the world, The Smithsonian in DC included.

  3. Toronto says: March 30, 20117:07 pm

    Waldo – next time “American Antiques Road Show” is in your neck of the woods, you should go, bring the phone, and tell that story – it’s great!

  4. waldo weir says: April 10, 20114:59 pm

    Did that in 1990 or so. They didn’t want to feature it because I “knew too much about it.” They are in the entertainment business and want an “Oh, Wow” factor when the expert tells them what they have. The experience was fun, though.

  5. Bethany says: May 15, 20117:23 pm

    Hello, I own the phone mentioned with Floral/Vine Motif. The phone was given to me by my Late Grandmother and Grandfather. My Grandfather was the Police Chief of Santa Monica, CA. This phone appears to be Silver with Jewels imbedded in each flower. I would love to know more about the phone and the maker if possible. I am unclear as to when exactly it was made or if it is in fact gold or silver or even if the jewels are real. Thank you for your comments above in comment number 2. I appreciated your knowledge on this very rare phone with such amazing and beautiful artwork.

  6. Davo says: August 21, 20118:36 am

    “$500 phone ($1,467,023.00 in today’s money)”

    So basically you’re saying one cent in 1935 had the buying power of about $30 today? I think not.

  7. ganmerlad says: August 21, 20118:53 am

    @Davo

    It was a joke.

  8. waldo weir says: August 21, 20116:12 pm

    Bethany,
    If your phone is one of Porters, it will be impressed on both the handset and the cradle base with “Porter Blanchard Original”. Porter had many artisans work for him over the years and they used a variety of stamps for their work, including “Porter Blanchard”, “Porter Blanchard Studios” and others. The “Porter Balnchard Oiginal” impression was reserved for items formed by Porter’s hand only. Porter made the phones, so it should carry this impression. If you can send me a photo thru the website (don’t know if that’s possible), I can evaluate it for you.
    Waldo

  9. Bethany says: August 28, 201112:27 pm

    DEAR WALDO
    Please reply with email thru the site here and include your email address. I have some photos. I would like to show you.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter. I was just wondering how did you find all of the information out that you wrote of above? I have searched in the internet hoping to find something on my phone, but this is all that I have come across.

    Beth

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