01/14/2013 08:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Country Living Appraises Late-1800s Butler's Call Box: What's The Worth?

We're very excited to syndicate one of our favorite columns, 'What Is It? What Is It Worth?' from one of our favorite magazines, Country Living. All text and images below are provided by Country Living. Get ready to be surprised!

""This contraption cost me $100 at auction—the auctioneer referred to it as an "annunciator." What does that mean? - C.P., Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

what its worth

Late-1800s Butler's Call Box

Professional appraiser Helaine Fendelman identifies and evaluates your collectibles and antiques.


Patented in 1889, this "annunciator," or call box, was typically used to summon butlers and other servants. The machine, wired to buttons at the eight locations listed on the box's face, likely hung in a kitchen. If the master of the house required assistance in the reception hall, for instance, he simply hit the call button (rather than yelling out for help, which was considered uncouth). Back in the kitchen, the bell rang, and a magnetic needle on the annunciator flipped up to indicate the call's point of origin. This box, fashioned of oak, glass, and brass, bears a maker's mark for Partrick, Carter & Wilkins, a Philadelphia electrical equipment company in business from the 1860s until the late 1920s. Today, this intriguing conversation piece commands more than three times the winning bid placed by our reader, which was $100.

What’s It Worth: $350

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