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Doorbells, Buzzers & Batteries: 1896 to 1903

Sears First Doorbell 1896 Summer Catalog The 1896 Summer Catalog provides the first relevant electric doorbell in our survey—the No. 63504 “Standard” three inch Electric Bell—

Most American homes had yet to be wired for electricity, so doorbells were marketed in outfits with batteries and wire.

Notably, these kits included a Walnut “Push” as the term “doorbell button” had not yet entered the vernacular. In the late 1800s, electricity was very much a novelty and doorbells were marketed next to other “essentials” like Electric Rings for Rheumatism.”

Buzzers make their Entrance

Sears First Electric Buzzer 1897 Fall Catalog The 1897 Catalog significantly advances the idea of electric signaling devices for residential use with the introduction of the 6095 Buzzer. Available with a nickel box or wood box accompanied by this informative description:

Buzzers are sometimes used in place of bells, as they make a low buzzing sound which can be heard but a short distance.

This banner year introduced “Push Buttons,” which were described as useful for door bells and other work.

In 1903 the Sears’ line expanded to include “skeleton bells”, with exposed works since the magic of electricity fairly required the mystery not be concealed with a cover.

The first decade of the 20th Century found an ever increasing variety of “Door or Call bells” featured prominently in Sears’ “Complete and Newly Organized Electrical Goods Department.”

Sears responded to America’s rapid electrification and the growing demand for electrical products by inroducing a “Special Electrical Goods Catalog.” beginning in 1907. It is likely a greater variety of doorbells and door chimes could be found in this specialty catalog, however our concentration here is on the doorbells marketed in Sears’ Spring and Fall “Big Books.”

Next Page: Doorbells Transformed: 1913

On these pages you will find interesting information about doorbells and door chimes. Check back as I put up new exhibits and content.

DollhouseChimes640Doorbells in Miniature: Operating and Decorative Dollhouse Doorbells

DeValera Long Bell DetailUnique engraved bells on this stylish  vintage DeValera Long Bell doorbell.

A mechanical doorbell operated by dogsA doorbell for your dog? Or a buzzer that thinks it’s a chime?

How about a pneumatic door chime? Check out the doorbell curiosities.

Vintage Mell-O-Chime Bakelite Doorbell shaped and paintedThis Bakelite doorbell case had fallen on hard times. Literally. See how the doorbell museum restored this handsome late 1940s door chime to it’s original glory.

Door Bell Definition Do you have a doorbell, a door bell or a door chime? Learn about the terminology used to describe signaling devices to let you know somebody is calling.

Sears Door Chime and Door Bell HistoryThe pages of the Sears Roebuck catalogs of the late 19th and 20th Century provide a vertical history of doorbells and door chimes.  Learn the fascinating history of America’s largest 20th century purveyor of doorbells.

Nutone Brochure 1937 Door Bell is Noise Enemy No 1Door Bell Noise is Public Enemy No. 1? Learn about door bell nerves and other peculiar maladies that helped to popularize door chimes in the 1930s.