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 dont 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
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
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