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Object Timeline

1959

  • Work on this object began.

1990

  • We acquired this object.

2012

2014

2015

2020

  • You found it!

Princess Telephone, Designed 1959; this example manufactured 1960

This is a Telephone. It was designed by Henry Dreyfuss, Bell Telephone Laboratories and Henry Dreyfuss Associates and manufactured by Western Electric Manufacturing Company and made for (as the client) AT&T. It is dated Designed 1959; this example manufactured 1960 and we acquired it in 1990. Its medium is molded plastic, metal. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The Princess phone’s light weight, small footprint, decorative colors, light-up dial, and intriguing name were designed to appeal to women and teenage girls as a bedside accessory. The design team had observed users lying in bed with the heavy base of the Model 500 phone resting on their torsos; the smaller body of the Princess responded to this unintended use.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Crossed Wires: The Gendered Technology of the Princess Phone.

It is credited Gift of Elaine Evans Dee.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 9.8 x 21 x 9 cm (3 7/8 x 8 1/4 x 3 9/16 in.)

It has the following markings

On underside of metal baseplate: 701B / 11-60 (stamped in black ink); BELLSYSTEM / The Princess phone (in script) (stamped in metal). Molded in underside of plastic handset: Western Electric / MADE IN U.S.A. / G 3

Cite this object as

Princess Telephone, Designed 1959; this example manufactured 1960; Designed by Henry Dreyfuss, Henry Dreyfuss Associates and Bell Telephone Laboratories; USA; molded plastic, metal; H x W x D: 9.8 x 21 x 9 cm (3 7/8 x 8 1/4 x 3 9/16 in.); Gift of Elaine Evans Dee; 1990-1-1

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18633615/ |title=Princess Telephone, Designed 1959; this example manufactured 1960 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 October 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>