The telephone had a difficult start, and it was a privilege of only the richest people.
In our region, it was economic necessity that, from the end of the 19th century, encouraged the towns involved in the wine trade to finance the first telephone networks in the department. Wine owners, merchants, and brokers saw such added value offered by the telephone that urban networks were established in the production centres.
Similarly, privileged links were developed between these centres and the trading and exporting cities.
This limited installation of a network nonetheless contradicted the egalitarian vocation of public service which should have been the aim of the telephone since its nationalisation in 1889. However, the government’s administration was willing to leave the initiative to local authorities and individuals who agreed to finance the establishment of lines and circuits through loans.
It was not until 1902 that a rational development of a network was planned. The general councils took over the financing of the departmental network, priorities were then defined, and the communes were asked, by convention, to contribute financially to the development.
Before crisis hit the profession, the wine industry provided by far the largest group of telephone subscribers.
In this showcase you will see:
On the middle shelf :
On the top shelf : A Pasquet sold by Rousselle and Tournaire with a stationary microphone. One would speak into the front microphone, and the two earphones were placed over the ears.
On the bottom shelf : A telephone that belonged to the Levis de Mirepoix family (Mirepoix, Ariège). The main telephone on the property had buttons made of ivorine and was used to make calls to the castle’s outbuildings.