There is a brass plaque attached to it saying:
“This instrument used by Maj. Henry L. Higginson at Boston, Mass. To open the Transcontinental telephone line with Thomas A. Watson at San Francisco, Cal. Monday evening January 25, 1915” in small letters below this but still on the plaque it states: “transmitter cutout & signal buttons added”
I looked up this Maj. Henry L. Higginson. He lived in Boston,
was a banker/financier at the time of the 1915
transcontinental call. See this page:
Then I contacted Richard R. John.
Here is part of a letter I received from Mr. John (credentials below)
Richard R. John, professor of history
University of Illinois at Chicago
History Department M/C 198
913 University Hall
601 South Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60607-7109
Thanks for the photograph. The artifact is extremely interesting--and quite important historically. Higginson had long been a financial backer of American Bell (which became American Telephone and Telegraph in 1900)--by way of his connection with the financial house of Lee, Higginson & Co. AT&T staged several calling ceremonies in 1915.
The transcontinental telephone line linked the Atlantic seaboard with the West Coast (and is often referred to as the New York-San Francisco line). This was the first line to use the audion--an early vacuum tube. Thus, it is often regarded as a key event in the history of modern electronics.
I should think that this telephone deserves a prominent place in any display of telephone artifacts.
Richard R. John
In further investigation, I found out that four or more transcontinental telephone calls were made on that night in 1915. They were made from New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia etc.. All to Thomas Watson in San Francisco, California. Mr. Watson's voice came out of that receiver!!!
I also found out that Mr. Watson actually spliced a small piece of wire