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No mobile phones allowed: Meet the vintage phone collector and avid user

14, Oct 2020

Vintage phone collector Hassan al-Tourky may be one of the few people in the modern age of microchips and video calls, not walking around with a mobile phone in his pocket. Friends and relatives of the 65-year-old owner of a repair shop can instead reach him on his 1898 wooden box telephone which he has in his living room, one of several vintage phones he owns. Winding up one from his collection, al-Tourky places a call while sitting in his armchair, an image reminiscent of the early 20th century. In the busy Attaba market in downtown Cairo, al-Tourky's collection includes a 1933 piece used by Egypt's late King Farouq with his image on it, and others once owned by Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Hudson and Egyptian and foreign celebrities. He buys pieces from auctions or collects those discarded in old palaces and villas, restoring them to working condition for other enthusiasts. "This is my profession ... my father's and my grandfather's, I inherited it from them. I love it, because it is what we're good at," he said. "It's not about the money, I cannot abandon the thing that I grew up being attached to and loved," al-Tourky continued. Him and his sons, who often help out at the shop, say they cannot part with much of the history they are surrounded by. Tourky sells some of the pieces, and keeps others he intends to pass on to his sons.

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