Large Steel Cased Wall Phones



These were introduced around 1909. They were recommended by Ericssons for tropical use, apparently because they would not be eaten by white ants or other wood borers. They do not appear to have been used in Australia. New Zealand, however, used some models extensively. The New Zealand Post Office obtained theirs from Beeston in Britain; from Buffalo, USA; and from 1918 to about 1920 from Federal Radio & Telephone in the U.S.. Federal bought some of the dies and fittings when Ericssons closed down in the U.S.

They are typically 550mm high, and are not as ornate as the wooden models. The only external difference between the magneto and CB models is the generator handle. The case is black-japanned steel, and other metalwork is finished in “antique brass”, black gunmetal lacquer or, less often, nickel plate. A few very rare examples are known where the phone is finished in white enamel. These appear to have been used in hospitals. The case has a hinged door for the battery box on the appropriate models. Decoration is minimal. Some originals may have a round “sunburst” transfer on the front of the battery box (British models) or a stylised skeletal phone transfer on the panel under the writing slope between the bells (Buffalo). Repaired phones often had a bakelite handset fitted in place of the Ericsson one. Apart from this minor update, they appear to have continued in service for many years without any major modification.

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