This handset was on display in a bank setting. It is a sleeker more modern design -- at least for the time. It definitely predates the dial era, so probably the caller had to tap the hook several times to get the operator's attention, then would tell her who to connect. If you look closely at the wires (the back one is pretty frayed) you can see that the technology of the time was to wrap the copper in a woven sheath of insulation.
Welcome to all. I began blogging Retained-Images in 2004 at My-Expressions.com. It is gone now.