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Interesting Telephone Equpiment

19 August 2007 No Comment

Over the years, I (fwaggle) have found myself getting interested in many different fields. This interest is usually bordering on the point of obsession, but quickly subsides sometimes after a matter of hours. In the summer of 2007, I found myself interested in vintage telephone equipment after picking some up at a yard sale for next to nothing. Given that I’ll most likely either box these up in storage, or sell them, I decided to catalog them online along with all the information I was able to dig up.

For those interested in restoring old telephones, I can’t recommend enough the book Old Time Telephones! Technology, Restoration and Repair by Ralph O. Meyer (ISBN #978-0070418189). Also, there’s a site that archives (and allows you to print hi-res reproductions of) number cards for the middle of the dial on several of these telephones.

Western Electric Model 302

This phone, which might be as young as 1950 (!), is really cute. Wikipedia has a pretty good article about how it was designed by Henry Dreyfuss, and it’s the popular phone used on television a lot in series such as “I love Lucy”. For me, the interesting thing is the fact that you can look at this phone and tell it’s old – it literally screams about the era it came from, though I haven’t ruled out the possibility it’s a reproduction. The handset’s made from bakelite, while the body of the phone case is made out of some kind of thermoplastic. At this point in time the phone, when connected to the POTS network, is capable of pulse dialing, but I can’t communicate over the handset.

Western Electric Model 500

This phone isn’t really particularly interesting. It could be made as late as the 1980s, it’s biege, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of them floating around. In fact, other companies still manufacture clones of the touch-tone version of this phone. I took a photo of it simply because I’ll probably sell it as soon as I can find someone interested in it.

ITT-built copycat of WE 1554 (?)

I’m not even certain of this phone. The case, hook, and ringer all look identical to the WE554 wall phone, however it’s touch tone. Apparently the WE touchtone versions of this phone (WE1554?) were only 10-key, not 12-key (the 2554 was 12-key, but has a different shape).

The front case of this phone is branded with ITT, but at present I’ve been unable to find any images of it. I also have two extra cases that fit this phone, which makes it really confusing – they all have the same WE554 shape, one is grayish-green and labeled “Bell System, Western Electric”, the other is black and is branded Stromberg-Carlson. I’m reasonably certain – due to the color of the touch-tone pad – that the white ITT case is the one that goes with this phone. I haven’t mucked with whether this phone functions or not.

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