Commonwealth Ericsson

This phone is a modification of an Ericsson model AB530. The modifications consisted mostly of circuitry changes to make the phone more suitable for Australia's longer rural phone lines. It was called the Commonwealth Ericsson because, after the various colonies were combined into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, the new Australian Post Office adopted this model as their standard wall phone. Before this, each colony's Telephone Administration contracted their own phones, so the Post Office inherited a wide range of brands and models.

Right: an advertisement for J Bartram & Son,
an early reseller of Ericsson phones in Australia

The Ericsson phone proved to be extremely well built and reliable. Purchases continued until World War I. After this, the Commonwealth Ericsson was replaced by the newer, simplified "British" Ericsson Model N2500. From here on until phones were built in Australia, our phones were sourced from Britain almost without exception.

The surviving Commonwealth Ericssons were taken out of service with the closure of the last manual exchanges in Australia in the early 1990s. They had survived the bakelite era and lasted well into the plastics era - a long life for a telephone.

My example was given to me by a friendly neighbour when he moved to a more modern home. It dates back to the 1910s and, according to the battery card inside, had nothing done to it except battery changes until it was retired from service in the 1960s.

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