Cradles were built in three main styles. Over the years these became simpler in construction, as pressure mounted to increase production. This led to further modifications.
Type 1: the standard ornate Swedish cradle used until the early 1900s. Over the years the "teardrops" have been lost from many phones. On British Post Office and National Telephone Company phones they were deliberately left off. Finish is nickel, although the pedestal was sometimes lacquered brass. British phones used a black gunmetal lacquer finish.
Type 2: A simplified cradle used mostly on the tin box desk phones. Decoration was confined to beads on the crossarm. It appeared in the early 1900s. Nickel plated.
Type 3: Basic style, with the crossarm beads left out and a curved crossarm.
Type 4: Fixed cradle used on some desk phones, in combination with a handset with a press-switch.
Type 5: A typical centre-mounted cradle used on some wallphones. Rare.
Type 6: A simple pressed steel cradle used from around 1918. It has been seen on phones from Sweden, Britain and Turkey
Variations: There is also a basic style used on some US-made phones, which
is more like the simplified cradle above, with the squared off shape but without
the beads on the crossarm. Finally, a modified cradle was designed to fit the
older phones so they could carry the new bakelite handsets as an upgrade. This
is shown in the section on Desk Phones. Similar ornate cradles were built by
other manufacturers. Some are shown below.
These are cradles used on European Western Electric phones. They are less common than the Ericsson phones. Western Electric did not use handsets in the United States until well into the 1900s, but in Europe they found the handset phones were preferred. They designed their own, and the Ericsson influence is obvious. The "potbelly" pedestal, made of aluminium, is usually a good identifier.
Fig 1:This is a typical desk phone cradle from British firm Sterling Telephone & Electric. They also sold Ericsson parts and phones under their own name, so their phones may sometimes be easily confused for an Ericsson.
Figs 2 : Later Sterling cradle, very close to the basic Ericsson design but slightly narrower. Sterling pillars , however, were the tapered conical style as shown. They were usually finished in a bronze lacquer. The General Electric Company bought phones from Sterling, and later took over production, so these cradles will also be seen on their phones.
Fig 3: Peel Conner cradle. Note the distinctive turned drum shape at the top of the pillar. Like Sterling, they also sold phones equipped with Ericsson parts.