Remember visiting the hardware department with your father and then wondering off to play with the doorbell display? Oh how we must have drove those store clerks to distraction by pushing all the buttons!
Door Chimes are meant to be heard and seen, so naturally customers needed to know what they sounded like and working displays were common.
Door chime displays range from simple counter-top mechanical demonstrators to wall dominating extravaganzas like these 1930s Rittenhouse demonstrators.
Today, through the magic of the internet, you can hear just how delightful ElectraChime long tubular bells sound. Of course, the online experience is only as good as the speakers on your phone, tablet or computer. We believe ElectraChimes sound best in person.
So go ahead, press play to hear our doorbells. Better still, click on any of photos in our catalog and see for yourself how great ElectraChimes look, and sound.
One of the most successful advertising campaigns ever involved doorbells. Anybody that watched TV or picked up a magazine during the 1950's and 1960's will remember images of the cheerful Avon Lady and her signature ringing of the doorbell.
Avon even furnished representatives with novelty mechanical doorbells they could use during sales calls. These sales aides were cleverly adapted door mounted doorbells.
The ubiquitous television commercials featured a melodious "ding-dong" with a long resonance that could only have been produced by long tubular bells.
Photos courtesy of Dave B
Here's an inside and outside view of Dave and Lisa's doorbell system at their charming St. Louis cottage. The doorbell button is just beneath the electrically illuminated house numbers. And the whole number panel is hinged to serve as a letter slot for the mail. A three in one.
Of course, we're equally partial to the ElectraChime Empire door chime with Seashell inlay with brass bells in the niche. It's a perfect choice for a traditional decor.
Photos courtesy of K. Beck
Here's one of my favorite doorbell niche treatments. Painting a light background contrasted with a tasty wall color really frames the doorbell. K. Beck of Portland, Oregon, wanted a doorbell that complimented her taste for her mid-century renovation:
In the 1930s, doorbells that rang like an alarm were considered at best, annoying, and at worst, as dangerous to ones health. After electric lights, doorbells were often the second residential electrical appliance in a home. Early doorbells were exactly that: bells which sounded like a fire alarm. Thus door chimes were marketed to combat "Public Noise Enemy #1" and calm "Doorbell Nerves".
Sure, early doorbells alerted you that somebody was at the door but it was like hitting you over the head with a hammer!. In the 1930s door chimes saved the day by treating the world to a much more pleasant sound by striking one or more tubular bells or metal xylophone-like tone bars.
Today, door chimes produce the ubiquitous "ding-dong" sound we know today. For more on the subject of door chimes vs doorbells, please see the article on my sister site, the Doorbell Museum.
Doorbells frequently turn up in TV shows, movies and the theater. If you spot one, let me know.
More often than not and unsurprisingly, their sound is used to announce a visitor. Sometimes, set decorators use doorbells to speak silently to the circumstances and set a mood. In the Wonder Years (ABC 1988-1993) a long chime doorbell is featured in a scene where Kevin and Paul get home from school and converse with Paul's family from the Pfeiffer hallway.
The characters lived in ranch style homes typical of the millions built in post war America. We all related to Kevin, his friends and family because so many of us grew up in just such houses.
In a stroke of brilliance the producers kept the show's setting ambiguous while taking extraordinary care to precisely reproduce homes of the period. This enabled us to relate the characters to our own experiences as we picked out furnishings we remember from growing up in Mid Century Modest surroundings.
In Edward Albee's absurdist play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a long chime doorbell has a stronger supporting role. The chimes are used to illustrate the fractious relationship of the characters with faith and each other.
The doorbell is at various times rung and violently bumped to advance the plot. At left, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton perform in front of the doorbell in the 1966 Warner Brothers film adaptation.
ElectraChime doorbells have been used as stage props in a number of Virginia Woolf productions including a notable 2007 revival at the Sydney Theatre Company.
If you are producing "Woolf", ask us about prop rentals.