Ericsson Desk Telephones

Like their wall phones, Ericssons’ desk phones used the standard range of parts built into different frames and styles. Handsets were used on all but the earliest phones.

Australia was a major market after the turn of the century, but most sales were of the large wall phones. Desk phones were not as popular until around the 1920s. The phones of this period were based on models designed by the British Post Office , and built by British companies including Ericsson. Ericsson desk sets were comparatively uncommon in official use. Only one, the Skeletal, was already in wide use. Early “tin box” sets such as the AC400 were also used in numbers, but don’t seem to have been as popular as the wall sets. A possible reason for this is the need to install a battery box and sometimes a bellset with desk phones. This would add to installation and upkeep costs, and indeed the PMG Department did charge extra for desk phones and handset phones for some time. As a result, some of the phones shown here were only sold in Australia by private contractors and electricians, or were brought in privately.

Other companies such as Western Electric, Emil Mollers, Telegrafverkets, and Kristian Kirks produced copies of many of these phones. Sterling and Peel Conner, among others, sold Ericsson phones under their own model numbers. It is usually necessary to closely examine the cradle, serial number and markings to confirm the brand. There were many minor variations in the style of the pedestal (the pillar that supports the cradle) over the years, so this is not much of a guide. Although most of the cradles were nickel plated, the pedestals seem to have varied from nickel to brass to aluminium. The collector will also find occasional models with a custom finish. Gold plating, white enamel and black or gold lacquer are all known. There is also an “antique bronze” finish used on British models.

The tin box style was introduced to reduce maintenance and construction costs. The exposed parts of the skeletal phones were prone to damage and wear, and needed a much higher standard of finish than an enclosed phone. Although the box style was not as attractive as the earlier models, this was made up for by elaborate transfers and decoration on the case. A good example with original transfers is uncommon.

Ericssons did not make a dial phone until 1921. Production was low until they perfected their own automatic switching system. With the increase in automation towards the late 1920s, many of the early tin box phones were redesigned as dial phones. Some have also been converted to automatic in recent years as “working antiques”. Some are easy to pick - they still have the magneto handle installed. Many originals will still have elaborate and attractive S.A.T, JYDSK, KTAS , or Ericsson transfers. Australian PMG models were rather drab in a plain black finish with muted gold Commonwealth of Australia transfers and pinstriping.

Desk Phones 1

To QuickFind

If you have reached this page through a Search Engine, this will take you to the front page of the website