Hi guys! Gael here. 😊 Yesterday, I was doing research on 19th-century communication technology for a scene I’m working on in The Gryphon Chronicles Book 8 and came across “speaking tubes,” the Victorian version of an intercom. Check this out! And so very steampunk!
Speaking tubes, also known as voice pipelines, date all the way back to 1849. Way before Jake’s time. How cool! Have you heard of these? Oh, my sisters and I would’ve had great fun playing with these as kids.
Clearly, speaking tubes would be useful in an office or factory setting (or a very large Black Fortress, ahem!). But they were also used in large middle- to upper-class Victorian homes to connect various regions of the house, particularly, servant work areas.
So, instead of yelling up and down the stairs to family members or staff all day long, all you had to do was: 1) blow into the correct speaking tube to signal the person on the other end to open their side (when not in use, the tube ends were fitted with whistle flaps), 2) then the person on the other end opened their flap, and 3) speak normally into the correct tube that would then transmit the message. There were multiple tubes running to and fro all throughout the house.
I would imagine that you’d have to be careful what you say, lol, when speaking tubes were around. You might think you were speaking the latest gossip in private around the water cooler when in fact you might very well be broadcasting the latest scandal to the boss, or the entire office.
The below image is from 1903. Do you see the 4 speaking tubes on the side of the desk? Judging by the scene in the picture, where do you think those tubes might be connected to? Would speaking tubes be handy in your house or work?
For more info on speaking tubes:
By Photographer not credited - http://www.officemuseum.com/photo_gallery_1900s.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9744722
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