During 1977, several people who were interested in telephone collecting, decided that they should get together to form a ‘club’. The purpose of this ‘club’ was mainly to facilitate the acquisition of phones amongst those involved. It was realised after a few meetings that the organisation of this ‘club’ was too loose and that more formal arrangements would have to be made.
Accordingly, a meeting of interested parties was convened on 19th October 1977, at which ten people were present with apologies from four more. A constitution was drawn up and accepted at this meeting, office bearers were appointed and other administrative matters determined. The “Telephone Collectors Society of NSW” was officially launched at this meeting with a total of 16 foundation members. Jim Bateman was President, Ric Havyatt was Secretary/Treasurer and Committee members were Adam Geschwind, Chris Daley and Mark Hutchison.
Publicity for the new Society had to be arranged to bring in additional members and gradually membership increased. In 1980, changes to the Committee were introduced to allocate specific duties to Committee members. Changes to the Committee makeup were approved in November 2007 to reduce the number of Committee positions in keeping with trends in similar Societies. The Committee is now empowered to allocate duties to members, be they Committee members or not and to conduct Committee business by the most effecient means available (telephone, email, etc.).
A big fillip to the Society was the publication in 1981 of Jim Bateman’s book “History Of The Telephone In NSW” which has proved to be the "bible" of collectors of Australian telephones. The Society has also reprinted several other historic publications and operates a Library for the use of members.
With membership widening by 1981 to include all states of Australia, New Zealand and a couple of overseas countries, it was felt that the Society name needed a revision to reflect the wider coverage of membership. After some deliberation, a change was made to “Australasian Telephone Collectors Society”.
The Society newsletter has continued to be a regular feature of the Society, being published every second month just prior to meetings. It has grown from a page or two to its current informative presentation, generally of 20 pages, and relies heavily on contributions from members. The main thrust of the newsletter is towards the assistance of members in their understanding, recognition, history and restoration of various old telephones and related telephonic/telegraphic equipment and parts and the notification and reporting of Society activities.
Present Society membership is mainly practical telephone collectors, many being past and present PMG/Telecom/Telstra employees, but many are people who are interested in the heritage of telecommunications without a great deal of practical knowledge. The Society aims to help this latter group in their understanding of telephony, The regular meetings have featured talks on technical and historical aspects of telephone technology and have included displays of selected groups of items for inspection and discussion by members. Regular auction sales have stimulated interest in collectors and restorers alike. A few rare items have turned up at auction sales, but the ordinary items have regularly proved popular.
As well as meetings and activities in Sydney, the Society has a Branch operating in Brisbane (Queensland) and in Adelaide (South Australia) where numbers of dedicated collectors meet regularly at various locations to further their hobby. Interested persons should attend - see details elsewhere. Over the 30+ years, Sydney meetings have been held at the South Strathfield Primary School (sitting on very small children's chairs) then to the Council owned "Pole Depot Community Hall" at Pensurst, then to the Powells Creek Scout Hall at Lidcombe and, from May 2008, to our new home at the Bankstown Council owned "G E Snow Hall", Sefton Community Centre, Batt St, Sefton - a very nice quite location.
The Society organises annual Telephone Collectors Shows at various venues. There has been twenty-one annual Shows to date at a number of locations in and around Sydney. The Queensland Branch also conducts an annual Show in conjunction with Heritage Park at Pimpama on the Gold Coast on the last weekend of July each year (the eleventh show in 2015). The South Australian Branch conducted its latest show in conjunction with the Strathalbyn Antique Fair in August 2015 - another most successful event. At all these Shows, members are encouraged to present displays of their collections for the pleasure and education of the public and even to set up tables to sell eagerly sought after items to other members to restore or complete equipment with missing parts. These Shows are open to the public and provide a means to promote the hobby of telephone collecting and to recruit new members to the Society.