What is this small old table?

wilson1November 16, 2009

I just bought this little table but I don't know what it was used for. My husband thinks it was a sign-in table at a funeral home with a slot for holy cards. I think it looks like it could have been used at a church. My upscale sister thinks it was a Victorian calling card table and the slot is for placing your card. Does anyone have any idea what this table could have been used for? Age?

Here is a link that might be useful:

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paul21

Don't know what it is but I'm pretty sure that your husband is wrong, unless it wa from avery small community or only used when nobody liked the deceased, the slot is too small. It also looks too blocky to be victorian. I bet you are right , it's church related and probably had a very specific purpose. Hopefully someone will know.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 7:53PM
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lazy_gardens

It's a "telephone table".

Phone foes on top, the shelf holds the phone directory.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 8:57PM
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lindac

I agree with Lazy....and I think it's a hotel lobby sort of thing.
Linda

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 10:03PM
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wilson1

Thank you to all who replied. The consensus seems to be a telephone table and I think I'll go with that! Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 12:52PM
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paul21

Darn! Why didn't I know that! Could the slot be for pen and paper ?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 7:01PM
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wilson1

Some people have suggested paper and pens, others have said it is for the phone book. The slot measures 4 inches by 1/2 inch, so it could only be a personal phone book if that is the case. The table is 29 inches tall and the top measures 12 x 18 inches.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 7:06PM
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cattknap

Phone books were much smaller 70 years ago than they are now. I have seen quite a few telephone tables in historic house museums and the slot is for a telephone book.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 7:21PM
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lindac

sorry...the size of the phone book is determined by the area it covers.
I remember the phone books of 1940...I would sit on it to boost me up at the table....it was a good 3 inches thick. Of course I lived in Northern New Jersey and that phone book covered all of Essex County.
The phone sat on the top the book or perhaps bookS on the shelf beneath and the slot was for a pen or a pencil and perhaps a note pad.
Remember in 1940 we didn't use ball point pens.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 2:20PM
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moonshadow

Yes, size of phone book is determined by area it covers.
But it's also determined by how many telephone numbers are assigned.
Back in 1940, per the US Census, only 1 in 7 Americans had a telephone.

Curious so I looked for some, wide variety of sizes, some bound, some just stapled paper.

1940 Orange County bound phone book (good size). More views here.:

1940 Racine, WI phone book. Using staples as perspective, appears to be a 1/2 sheet booklet

A 1915 Nebraska book, know it's older but notice how rings left by cup or glass take up a good portion of the cover space. Per source site this one only contains 20 pages.

Here is a link that might be useful: Old Phone Book by State

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 5:33PM
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calliope

A county directory isn't a phone book, it's like a city directory. Usually have not only names, and phone numbers but occupations and is indexed not only alphabetically, but by location. That orange county book may not be a county directory, (maybe it is a phone book) but sure looks like one. I used to work for a 'directory' company. And yeah, they look like encyclopaedia volumes.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 7:21PM
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annie1971

If the table is 29" high and no cross bar at the front bottom, it looks like it was intended to be sat at with a chair or stool. I really cannot envision plunking a phone book into that slot on top. Perhaps it was in a bank lobby and the slot was used for deposit slips, etc. or a train depot or for writing out telegrams? Who knows? It's cute and a curiosity -- two good reasons to have it in your home!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 7:53PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

I had this wild notion that it could have been used for a typewriter stand. I have an antique one (of metal) about the same height and width, and the base is configured like this object, with knee space.
I discount the idea though, because the decorative backstop doesn't fit the theory. The old, tall typewriters would have completely blocked it; but is it original, or could it have been added later to make it into a telephone table?
Casey

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 10:43PM
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sam_md

I saw a table identical to this one recently. It had a sign-in book on top. The slot was filled with printed cards for the deceased. It was in a funeral parlor.
Sam

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 7:50PM
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jemdandy

I think its a telephone table from the days of rotary dial phones and maybe all the way back to when the ear piece hung vertically on a hook. It is not designed for the crank style phone with a battery box.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 3:55AM
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lindac

How about the days of before the rotary diap phones....how about from the days when you would speak the number to an operator?
The phone book goes in the area under the surface and the shot holds pencils and a note pan.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 9:47AM
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pris

I can remember when families only had one phone in the house. Imagine that! Some folks had a hall table for it so it was convenient to both the living/kitchen area and the bedrooms for calls at night. Having said that, I tend to agree with linda about the sign in table in a funeral home. It looks to be about the right size although the ones I have seen are a little more solid looking. So, it could go either way and would work for both functions.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 11:07AM
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vampiressrn

My friend's Mother had one of those in her home. The only phone in the house sat on top, phone book in slot and she had a hard-backed chair tucked underneath. You could pull out the chair and sit with the phone in your lap. If you were lucky, your phone had a long cord on it, which my friend's did and we used to drag the phone into her bedroom, close the transom window and make prank calls to boys...right there in the same room with our Barbie's and record player stacked with 45's...awwwww those were the days. Atwater-4245...party-lines...LOL

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 11:12PM
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