Strange thing in wall of old house, what is this?

This was in a 120 year old house I inspected yesterday. It appears to be brass and is just in the wall. The wire at the bottom works like a lever and opens and closes the center section. I have no idea what this is or what it was used for. Any ideas? It’s a little larger than a quarter.

Best guess. Sash chord holder,

Speaking tube.


It’s right next to a doorway, so I don’t think a sash cord would be here. Thank you though.

That is the first thing I thought of too, but I didn’t find anything for the other end. It could be I just didn’t find it.

Dom nailed it.


The other end could have been in the basement, rear room, almost anywhere. Or even removed.

From Junior’s link:

" The lever on top moves aside the disc containing the whistle to allow blowing or talking.

"The mouthpieces could be ordered “with indicator”. This is pure speculation, but I assume it was some sort of pressure operated flag that gave a persistent indication that a particular pipe had been blown. If you were sitting in the servant’s hall faced with half-a-dozen speaking tubes connected to various parts of a large house, that could have been very useful."

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That is amazing for that time!

Voicepipe cartoon in Wireless World: 1960

Demonstrating that voicepipes were still familiar things in 1960. The butler is holding the call whistle in his right hand.

From the December 1960 issue of Wireless World , once an influential journal on radio and electronics.


Thank you everyone for your input. I just wanted to add a description into the report. This is a huge house, almost 5000 s/f, so the idea of a speaking tube is not out of the question.

By the way, Terri, it is nice to see you back on our forum!..Enjoy! :smile:

This is so cool! Thanks for sharing!

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Perhaps a door bell.

You need to read the all the posts, it was already determined to be a speaking tube.

I’m with Julie this is way cool. Old technology is cool when you run into it. Still have Grandpa’s 1915 Victrola (works) that I played in his basement as a child! Imaginme the luxury Grandpa felt in 1915 to have a symphony in his living room!

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That’s awesome, Bob! :grinning:

That would be an amazing find.