1915 Vintage Western Electric “Candlestick” Phone

The classic Western Electric #20B candlestick telephone was patented in 1904 and remained in production until the 1920s, when it was supplanted by desktop phones with the transmitter and receiver in one handset. The candlestick phone contained no ringer, and was connected to a separate “subscriber set” or ringer box containing the bells. Later models for automatic exchanges added a rotary dial in the base. Many candlestick phones remained in service, leased and maintained by telephone companies, until the 1940s and '50s. They are electrically compatible with today's wired telephone networks.

The earpiece that hung on the hook was called the “receiver”, and the phone was answered by picking it up. A remnant of this remains in the English language, with many people continuing to call the handset of modern telephones “the receiver”. In French, the handset is called «le combiné», indicating it contains both the microphone and receiver.