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Sound-powered telephones make superlative yuletide toys


SURE THEY WORK—and you don’t even need batteries! What are they? Just a pair of sound-powered telephones that are certain to turn a couple of kids into a pair of happy hooligans for many a fun-time session. And what’s the secret? There really isn’t any— other than the fact that a crystal earphone will work as either an earphone or a microphone, depending on whether you talk or listen. Connect two such units in series, attach them to a suitable support so that you can hold one to your ear and the other to your mouth, and you have the main elements of this setup.

As you can see from the photos and drawings, the handles for the handsets are strips of aluminum which have been bent into the required shape. The bases are made of wood, and almost anything will do for the jacks and connectors. To put the telephones in operation, just connect them together with up to 100 feet of twin or twisted wires, and start talking. Happy holidays!

  1. Scook says: September 2, 201112:54 pm

    Amazing! I haven’t seen piezo earphone in years. I was astounded to find that you can still buy them when I Googled them. But not for the dollar or less that they probably cost back in the 60’s.
    They used to be great for crystal radios.

  2. Toronto says: September 2, 20112:04 pm

    Scook: They’re about $2 locally, or $3 online, so that’s not too bad considering.

  3. Andrew L. Ayers says: September 2, 20113:27 pm

    @Scook: Plug that $1.00 per earphone (in 1962) in an inflation calculator, and you’ll find that was about the equivalent of $7.00 today (so that $4.00 in 1962 would cost $28.00 today). If Toronto’s numbers are right (I have no reason to doubt them), then today, at 2-3 dollars each, it’s cheaper to buy them today than it was in 1962 (by half or more)!

  4. Charlie says: September 2, 20113:37 pm

    Toronto » My first thought was “Is that in Canadian dollars?” realizing I had no idea what the current exchange rate was. So I checked it out. Down here they’d be $2.0315

  5. Hirudinea says: September 2, 20114:59 pm

    But back in 1962 the real problem was if you actually built the thing Ma Bell would send out some hired goons to beat the crap out of you for horning in on her buisness.

  6. Mike says: September 2, 201110:27 pm

    Mom…. What are these wire things on the phone?

  7. Davo says: October 2, 201112:31 am

    I remember using crystal earpieces back in the 70s, in fact I still have a few somewhere. They are still available, but hard to find. The big problem with them is they are very fragile, even a short drop onto a hard surface will crack the piezo element, and render them useless.

    I suspect this toy wouldn’t last very long before it broke, but not before you got to share earwax with your friends- Yuck!!

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