Recently I went hunting amongst the trash and treasure of my father’s garage for this bakelite beauty. I was hoping it was still there after all this time.
When we were kids Dad had a lot of old theatre props under the house which we used to play with. The hoard of old telephones was my favourite.
‘Aha!’ I had found one of them. And not a bad example either.
From memory, there used to several bakelite phones under our old house including an in-house switchboard type – the kind that a secretary would use for transferring calls within a business.
I’d like to think that this one was Grandpa and Grandma’s telephone, from their house in Rockdale (Sydney), or perhaps all the telephones in the stash were from Grandpa’s sports goods business in Clarence Street, Sydney?
Who knows? In any case, this telephone is over sixty five years old and a vintage beauty.
1948 GEC 332AT telephone
– black bakelite case, combination handset with ‘spit cup’, chrome dial, dual metal plungers, original single thick rayon-sheathed black cord, base directory drawer replaced with blanking plate.
‘This tray caused some problems, as anything in it that was not perfectly flat could jam up under the bells…It became standard practice when reconditioning phones to replace the drawer with a blanking plate. Phones without a tray could also be damaged by people trying to prise open the blanking plate, thinking it was the front to a stuck drawer.’ (Bob’s Old Phones)
Yup, that’s what must have happened to this one. Have to confess, I tried to force it open myself. It’s too tempting.
The telephone has the following markings:
Base label: (Black and gold)
MADE IN ENGLAND
THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY LTD OF ENGLAND
Ink stamp on base:
P.M.G. 48 3 32 AT
S1 / 52
ie. Post Master General (Australia) 1948 (believed to be the year of commission)
332 model = a standard CB / auto exchange telephone
A = automatic exchange type, T = table instrument
Handset imprint: 164 50
ie. 164 model, 1950 year of manufacture
Notes and sources
* ‘a dead ringer’ – is usually an Australian phrase meaning that someone looks exactly like someone else
eg. Bob is a dead ringer for Joe. (Bob looks exactly like Joe, could be mistaken for Joe)
‘1949 GEC Bakelite Telephone 300 Series STUNNING’ (item number: 131149957796), eBay (website), eBay Inc., http://www.ebay.com.au, viewed 12 April 2014
‘BRITISH POST OFFICE 300 SERIES TELEPHONE’, Bob’s Old Phones (website), Bob Estreich, http://www.telephonecollecting.org, viewed 12 April 2014