Brooklyn: Eagle Job and Book Printing, 1882. Three pamphlets. 31;;pp. Principal work in original printed wrappers; addenda in later wraps reproducing title page or first leaf of text. Previous vertical folds. Minor paper repairs to front original wrapper at lower corner and central gutter, slightly affecting text. Light tanning and minor soiling. Very good plus. Item #1482
Exceedingly rare, unrecorded group of early telephone directories for the Long Island Telephone Company, which served the main areas of Brooklyn during the early 1880s. The company was incorporated in late September 1881, and by October 1882 was operating with a sublicense from the Metropolitan Telephone and Telegraph Company. The service existed for less than two years before being absorbed into the New York and New Jersey Telephone Company in June 1883.
The three works in the present group date from November 1882 to April 1883. The primary directory consists of approximately 1000 entries (about forty per page) for residents and businesses, alphabetically arranged, with each entry providing name; residence or type of business; telephone exchange and number; and address. Williamsburg and Greenpoint were on different central exchanges than greater Brooklyn. The two separately issued 1883 addenda add another approximately 300 entries.
These directories are fascinating not only for their documentation of who was acquiring this relatively new technology (the overwhelming preponderance of entries are for businesses), but also for the demonstration of its growth over the first several years of its use. The verso of the main directory title page contains an advertisement to subscribers for early long distance, promoting five-minute calls to Westchester, Hoboken, Newark, and towns further afield in New Jersey for twenty-five or thirty cents. It contains a further notice of a completed connection to the Western Union offices, and the new availability of telegram by phone. The addenda, in addition to providing information on recent subscribers, also show recent developments, such as the installation of pay phone stations across Brooklyn for "transient customers," and the establishment of exchange offices in Flushing and East New York.
We are unable to locate other copies of directories or addenda from the Long Island Telephone Company. Any directory from this first era of commercial and public telecommunication is extremely rare, and only a small handful of examples from other cities during the late 1870s and early 1880s are recorded, most in single copies. The first multi-page telephone directory, published in 1878 in New Haven, Connecticut, brought $170,500 in the sale of the Richard Green Library at Christie's in 2008. Fine examples and important evidence of early telephone use in Brooklyn and the New York area.