Western Electric 500 P/UI’ve been a historian, collector and dealer of antiques & collectibles for years. I know what is sufficiently scarce as to warrant the term, rare. UFOs, Sasquatch, sincere politicians… all rare. So too is the Western Electric “mushroom phone”, also known as the 500H, 500P or 500U. So what is it, and why is it so rare?
The mushroom is basically a run-of-the-mill model 500, with a difference. Located next to the dial, right by the number 4, is a dome-like, a mushroom-like protrusion, a light to illuminate the dial. It fits the space so well, looks so appropriate, it’s hard to believe it was an afterthought. It’s also hard to understand why more of them aren’t around. The button-like hood that covers the bulb is directional, casting the light towards the dial and illuminating the clear plastic fingerwheel. It works great, looks great. So why weren’t they popular? Read the rest of this entry »