Identification

How do you know that your telephone actually IS an Ericsson? Many phones are wrongly identified as an Ericsson on the strength of an Ericsson-branded handset or some other part. The handsets were cobbled onto just about any phone they fitted, so this is really not much of a guide. Ericsson parts were used by many other firms. The parts were usually unbranded, this being Ericssons' policy for outside sales. An Ericsson transfer on a phone is usually a good identifier, but many “restorers” put these on refurbished phones just to make them look good. On many older phones the transfer has just about disappeared from old age. Typical transfers are shown in further on in these pages.

This section shows many of the Ericsson styles. By browsing through it you will soon become familiar with the Ericsson “look”. A tentative identification should then be confirmed by examining the other parts, such as switchhook, generator or handset. If most of these parts match the Ericsson parts shown here, then you probably have a genuine Ericsson. Look at the styles shown elsewhere in this section and see if you can find a match for the phone.

For final confirmation, look for a serial number or other identifier stamped into the phone. The Swedish Ericsson serial numbers are listed in the final section - does the number match these? If you can’t find a number, look for “British Ericsson” stamped into the edge of the case woodwork. If the phone is not so marked , check on the back of the case or underneath for British Post Office manufacturers codes. British phones were usually marked with a manufacturers code, year of manufacture, model number and sometimes contract number. Here are some common codes you may find, both for Ericsson and for other firms who are known to have used Ericsson parts.

AK Peel Conner Telephone Works
AKA Sterling Telephone & Electrical
C General Electric Co.
E Ericsson
EET and EEX Plessey (bought out Ericssons in Britain)
FBR GPO Factory, Birmingham (Reconditioners)
FHR GPO Factory, Holloway (Reconditioners)
FNR GPO Factory, Edinburgh (Reconditioners)
FWR GPO Factory, Wales (Reconditioners)
G General Electric
GEC GEC Telephones, Coventry
RNA Radio, Phonopore & Electricals (taken over by Sterling)
TE, TM, TMK Telephone Manufacturing Co.
TGR, TGW Thorn Ericsson
TMC Telephone & Microphone Co.
W, WAA STC (Western Electric until 1925)

The code will usually be stamped as E27 over 235, or similar. The “27” is the year the phone was manufactured. Unfortunately codes for other Ericsson manufacturing plants such as Turkey and the United States are not available.

A note regarding the identification of a phone: This is arguable, but I follow the idea that if a phone was built (or in some cases rebuilt) by Ericssons, then it is an Ericsson phone regardless of who the original builder was. If it is an Ericsson that has been rebuilt and upgraded officially by another company or administration, such as the British Post Office, then it is a phone of that company and is no longer an Ericsson.

Thus, a Bell twin box phone which has been refurbished by Ericssons and had the transmitter, receiver, and maybe the generator replaced, would now be classed as an Ericsson phone rebuilt from a Bell model. A skeletal phone owned by the National Telephone Company which has had a Western Electric handset added on maintenance would still be an Ericsson, as the handset changeover was neither company policy nor an official upgrade - just a necessary convenience to use old parts. An Australian N2500 model which has had the solid back transmitter and bell receiver replaced with a bakelite handset, and possibly had a dial added, would now be an Australian Post Office phone as these changes were official upgrades made when a phone was refurbished, rather than a technician’s one-off.

Unfortunately there are many “Frankensteins” out there. These are phones which have been butchered, had non-standard cabinetwork done, had some quite inappropriate parts added, or have just been cobbled together using whatever parts were available. These may turn up at auction listed as “extremely rare”, “previously unknown”, or “unlisted”. As an example, some tin box desk phones have been appearing with the metal cover carved into ornate fretwork or even removed altogether to show the elaborate but non-genuine transfers that have been applied to the magnets. Depending on your preference, you can regard these as interesting modifications or just as an incomplete phone. Some of the scrollwork cutouts may be from a Far East country where such craftmanship was affordable, and may make the phone an interesting specimen in its own right.

There are also many phones with reproduction parts. If you collect phones for the pleasure of the hobby this may not matter, but if you are also concerned with the value of the phone then the reproduction content will be important. Some reproduction parts such as mouthpieces and handset cords are usually quite acceptable - a good original can be very hard to find. If the phone has many repro parts then no matter how accurate the parts are, the phone should be called a reproduction (or at least, a rebuild). This can, however, be quite acceptable to a collector - it’s the only way you are likely to get a “Biscuit Barrel”, for instance. If the phone has been built with parts that are not an accurate match for the original (such as aluminium legs on a skeletal, or a pushbutton dial ) then the phone is a copy or just “in the style of..”.

If you are not sure how genuine a phone may be , a close examination will be needed. Is the condition a bit too good? Over the years transfers will usually dry out and flake off. Repro transfers are available, and may not really detract from the phone’s desirability. Woodwork restores well, so it is not much of a guide externally. Polyurethane finishes are popular among some restorers as a substitute for french polishing, but the phone underneath may still be original. Is the woodwork inside faded and possibly chemical-stained in the battery compartment? Or does it look fresh-cut new?

Is the nickel plating in good condition? Unless it has been replated it will usually show some dulling or crazing. Even if repolished a perfect nickel finish would be unlikely on an original. At the least there should be some wear where the handset fits into the cradle.

Dials and bells polished back to brass are not original finish, but are just an unfortunate attempt to make the phone look more trendy. Ericsson did use some lacquered brass parts as trim on pedestals, but not on the parts of a phone which the users regularly handled. The brass tarnished easily, so exposed metalwork was usually nickel-plated (NOT chromed), oxidised or painted. Dials mounted on magneto phones detract from the phone’s originality and value but unfortunately they are often fitted to make a phone more saleable on the antique market.

You will learn more from an internal check. Are all the parts in place and correct? Phillips-head screws are not original. Neither are plastic-insulated wiring or electronic ringers. Sometimes modern internals are fitted to make the phone workable. It's up to you whether you accept this or not, but avoid phones which have been externally butchered to fit a dial into the cabinet.

If your phone looks like an Ericsson but is not quite right , you may have a phone from another company. It could have been produced by Emil Mollers, Peel Conner, Sterling, Kellogg, or one of the other builders who used Ericsson parts or copied their designs. Ericssons also built custom models for many telephone administrations such as KTAS in Denmark. Many of these are shown in this site.




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