Most early designs of telephone were wall-mounted because of the bulky items needed: transmitter, receiver, magneto and local battery. Gradually, receivers got smaller and could be hand-held, leaving typically a ‘three box’ layout: transmitter, magneto and battery. Transmitters also became smaller and the larger components were then housed in a single cabinet often designed as though they were a piece of furniture.

The designs here are typical of  many in use in the late 19th century, both in the UK and elsewhere. A magneto, bell and local battery were held in the wooden box. Both the National Telephone Company and the Post Office used phones like this. PO examples of this generic type were the Tele 11 and Tele 59.