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Detroit Police Telephone Call Box

September 7th, 2009 · 42 Comments

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Detroit Police Telephone

The first police call boxes were created in 1883 for the city of Washington, D.C. They made it possible for both the public and the police to contact the local police station in the event of an emergency. The idea quickly caught on across the U.S. and call boxes were installed in other large cities. Police walkie-talkies eventually made call boxes unnecessary in most cities by the late 1960s.

This aluminum call box was manufactured by The Gamewell Company of New York in the mid-1900s. The original Detroit police call boxes were painted a solid blue. This one has been redone with a striking black, white and gold color combination, as well as the modern-day slogan, “No Drugs” painted on the side. Inside is a wall-style telephone. Northern Electric made this particular model called the Uniphone sometime in the 1940’s or 50’s.

Restored Gamewell Police Call Box

Northern Electric Uniphone

Dimensions: 16”H x 11”W x 5”D
Produced: Mid-1900s

This item is not for sale. We show restored items in this blog to encourage discussion, prompt questions and further the hobby of collecting and restoration. We also enjoy sharing the photos of the many items we have restored over the years.

Tags: Restorations by Vintage Vending Inc. · Unique & Unusual

42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gino Hliebay // Sep 27, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    This door was not made by gamewell, the city of detroit made their own door and slapped it on a gamewell box. Needless to say gamewell threatened to sue, detroit stoped producing their own door. Made in the 1950’s the inside phone is not original.

    Great looking box,

  • 2 Keith // Sep 29, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Gino, thanks for contributing.

    We knew the phone was not original, we just thought it looked cool :)

  • 3 Hanz // Nov 20, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    The phone does look cool . Where did you find it?

  • 4 vintagevending // Nov 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm


    We don’t recall where we bought this item, as it was 8 years ago, but try ebay, sometimes they pop up there.

  • 5 Lisa // Dec 1, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I have an original blue phone box in good condition, with no phone on the inside. What is the approximate worth?

  • 6 vintagevending // Dec 2, 2009 at 10:33 am


    We aren’t able to give estimates on the value of an item. If you keep an eye on Ebay or Craig’s List, your item is sure to be listed at some point. That may give you a rough idea of it’s value but keep in mind prices vary greatly depending on condition.

  • 7 Jim // Dec 15, 2009 at 1:29 am

    HI LISA,

    Is it 16 1/2 inches tall or 20″? (measure from the back :-) Do you know where it was used? I’ll look for your response & thanks, Jim

  • 8 Bob // Dec 18, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Is your call box for sale? I am interested.

  • 9 Jack // Mar 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I’m trying to locate the old Police Call Boxes maintained by the then named “New York Tel/Bell Atlantic” phone company and used by the Suffolk County NY Police Dept.. They were lime green in color and were removed from telephone poles in our Police District in the early to mid 90s. Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks and STAY SAFE! Jack

  • 10 Robert Green // May 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I was a police officer in Detroit from 1974 to 1999. All the call boxes I used were dark blue. The main function of a call box was to report to the dispatcher while on standup patrol or foot patrol(walking a beat). The term used for using the call box while on foot patrol was “pull”.

  • 11 Kika // May 21, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Hi. I have an old police call box that I would like to sell. Its in fair condition. Only thing is I dont Know where to start with prices? any idea?

  • 12 vintagevending // May 21, 2010 at 11:06 am


    We are not appraisers, so we can’t give you an estimate on value. I have found a website with a write-up that might be able to help you out.

  • 13 Bob // Jun 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I am in the Detroit area and purchase call boxes, please email me, but note that there is a zero instead of the letter o in my email address shown.

  • 14 Ed // Jun 12, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Looking for a police call box anyone has or know who is selling let me know vial email.
    Thank you.

  • 15 Bill // Jan 2, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I have a call box that I have had for a good 20 years mounted in my shop. Used it up to a few years ago. I’m trying to find a site or someone that cab tell me it’s worth if anything. Tks

  • 16 Will // Jan 17, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Hey Bill

    I would be interested in purchasing the call box from you!

  • 17 charlie // Jan 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I am looking to buy a police call box and put it in my basement as a regular phone. If anyone is selling a call box please contact me. cbatchelor248@gmail.com

  • 18 Bob Blick // Feb 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I collect Detroit Police memorablia, including call boxes, badges, photos, equipment, etc. Always looking to purchase good quality items. Email me at blick068@hotmail.com. Please note that in my email, the 0 to the left of the numerial 6 should be a zero. Thanks…..Bob

  • 19 Bill // Feb 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I have yokes, backplates,finials and fire box surrounds available for sale for Gamewell police and fire boxes. Located in the Toledo area

  • 20 Andy // Feb 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I have a Gamewell police box/police cable box double harp with lamp extension and globes that I’m interested in selling. Contact me for pictures and more information.

  • 21 Dan // May 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Andy, send me a pic. dwgnr825@msn.com

  • 22 tony lagore // May 23, 2011 at 11:43 am

    im restoring a detroit police call box. what type of blue paint is it? Royal blue? sky blue? Does anyone know?


  • 23 Melissa // Jun 13, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I have a Chicago cast iron call box made between 1915 and 1919. I believe that was before the Gamewell Co. Is that the case? Any ideas?

  • 24 Dan // Jun 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Melissa, Chicago made their call boxes based off the Gamewell design. Gamewell was around way before the 1900’s. The design was based off the Gamewell firebox just as Los Angeles did.

  • 25 Tony // Jun 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I have a newly restored Detroit police call box. This box has the inside phone parts. it is missing a few items that im trying to replace.id like to sell it to someone who would appreciate this collectable.

  • 26 Bob Blick // Jun 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Tony, I would be interested……can you email me at blick068@hotmail.com? My email has a zero next to the k, not a letter o.

  • 27 Karin // Oct 1, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I’m interested in buying a Detroit Police call or similar type call box (preferably cast iron). Please email me at opusbh@hotmail.com if you have one available.


  • 28 Tony // Nov 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Hi. I have a Detroit Police call box, recently restored, that id like to see go to a good home. It is painted old ford blue with most of the original internal phone components. If you or anyone you know would be in interested in seeing it/purchasing it, let me know.

  • 29 Jeff // Nov 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Hi Tony, had some questions about call
    box. can you e-mail me @ jeff499dfd@yahoo
    thanks jeff

  • 30 John // Dec 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    My Dad is 75 and retired from Detroit police I would love to buying your box for him .It would be
    something he would treasure.Please contact me and let me know if it is still available.
    Thanks John

  • 31 John // Dec 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Tony my E-mail is johnlambert09@gmail.com

  • 32 Frank // Dec 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I have an old new your gamewell telegraph box and I’m locking for a lock for it. It has a three hole pattern, one on top, two on the bottom and the latch on the side. If anyone know where I can find one please let me know….frankthetankavila@sbcglobal.net

  • 33 Frank // Dec 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Sorry, My gamewell box is from New York…I sent message on iPhone and it changed my words!

  • 34 Tony // Feb 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I have a old Detroit Police Telephone box I am looking to restore. If anyone has parts to sell let me know. I so far need a key and one hinge. Thanks.

  • 35 Greg // Feb 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Does anyone know if there is a list of Detroit call box locations by call box numner?

  • 36 John Bunker // Mar 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    You may be interested in my recently published book in the UK ‘The Rise and Fall of the Police Box’ published by Brewin Books. It is a well researched history of police kiosks and pillars. You can view more information on the publisher’s website or Amazon

  • 37 Tony // Mar 8, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Looking to buy a Detroit Police call box If you have one for sale please let me know. Thanks

  • 38 Paul // Jul 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Does anyone know if a map exists with the original location of the boxes by number?

  • 39 Jolene // Sep 15, 2012 at 8:49 am

    I am currently looking for anything Detroit Police for sale. Please contact me if ya have anything that you would like to sell. j_w678@yahoo.com

  • 40 Rick // Mar 22, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I have a Detroit Police callbox that I got from a guy who used to be a Detroit cop. It is aluminum, in good shape but needs to be painted. No phone or interior parts. The brass plate has the number 32 on it.

  • 41 Bob // Dec 22, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I am interested in purchasing call boxes. I prefer the ones with the actual city name on it.
    I’m former San Francisco Police Dept

  • 42 fred // Mar 6, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Does anyone know the wiring to these phone boxes.

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All Images are the Property of and Copyrighted to Vintage Vending Inc.