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Lamp Phone Atrocities!

Started by Greg G., May 06, 2009, 12:43:09 AM

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Well, here's the latest update.  I decided to take a risk on it and buy it.  I probably need to have my head examined.  Since I am at work today, I sent my wife over to the antique mall to pick it up.  (I'll have to pay for that later.)  She was able to get another 10% off.  When I get home tonight, I'll try to take it apart and post some better pictures.  I'm going to need lots of help and advice on what to do with it.  My inclination is to go the restoration route.

Doug Rose

I would bet its solid Ivory by the way the handset cracked when drilling. Either bakelite or tenite. If it was paint it would of chipped. Good luck, hopefully it can be repaired.....Doug

Jim Stettler

Quote from: Kidphone on March 08, 2010, 11:22:56 AM
I would bet its solid Ivory by the way the handset cracked when drilling. Either bakelite or tenite. If it was paint it would of chipped. Good luck, hopefully it can be repaired.....Doug

I suspect the housing didn't get damaged. between that and the caps you are in the parts cheap.

I would use it as a lamp in my phone area. I dislike seeing phones made into lamps, but when I get them I use them (make sure that it is safe to use). I prefer a lampcord goining to a switched socket.

I have rewired a few where the AC went thru the switch-hook contacts, One was wired with the original telephone line cord.

I think you made a wise purchase.
You live, You learn,
You die, you forget it all.


Well, the news is good and bad.  It is most definitely white plastic and is not painted.  It appears to be made totally of bakelite.  The base appears to be in great shape, but the handset appears to be glued to the base.   Predictably, the phone has been gutted of its components.  The only marking is "LE" -- inside the base.

The handset appears to be cracked all the way through.  If it had not been for the glue, the thing would most probably have broken in half.  The receiver and transmitter caps appear to be in great condition, but I have no way to get them off unless I separate the handset from the base.

I posted some more pictures below.  Restoring this phone would be a challenging (and scary) experience.  What is the consensus?  Leave well enough alone or give restoration a try?


Wow, wow, wow... I've NEVER seen one of these, nor have I even heard of their existence.  I guarantee the handset cracked down the middle because it was glued.  That light plastic tended to shrink, and with both ends of the handset locked in place, it had no choice but to separate in the middle. 

I'm not sure what I'd do with it.  It's so rare, I'd be inclined to leave it as it is, in order to prevent further possible damage.  On the other hand, I'd be awfully tempted to just "put it right" again.  Hard call.  Beautiful phone, though, and I think it's a bargain.


The phone is a Kellogg 700A.  I have one in black.  Like other phones from the 1930s, this one had only a hook switch in the base and was connected to a subset.  You might be able to find a plunger and hook switch assembly for it.

Do you have any idea what kind of glue was used to hold the handset to the cradle?  It might be worth trying some sort of solvent to dissolve the glue.  Test some of it first on the inside of the shell to see if it will damage the bakelite.  I would strongly advise against trying to pry the handset off of the cradle because it might easily take part of the cradle with it.



You could try a heat gun in very low setting, or a hair dryer to see if that softens the glue.


Just for fun, you might want to soak the phone in warm water first.  The person who mutilated the phone may have used water-soluble glue.




My vote is to restore.  You just don't see those around!

The Kellogg receiver probably had the two metal conductors molded into the handle to go from the contacts in the transmitter cavity up to the receiver cavity.  If drilling through the handle did not drill through them, those conductors may be the only thing holding the handset together.

What a shame that is.  Maybe Kellogg Mike would have a lead on an ivory plastic handset.  Also check with Vern Potter and Steve Hilsz.  Try broadcasting a "Want to Buy" post on the TCI listserver.

If you wind up with no luck in those places, you could always get a run-of-the-mill bakelite handset and find a good matching color of Ivory to paint.

The hookswitch should be a lot easier to come by, and Oldphoneworks has new ivory fabric cords.

-Bill Geurts
-Bill G

Doug Rose

If this Ivory 700 set was mine, once I removed the handset, I would replace the handset with a Kellogg brown bakelite handset and use the ivory caps on it. I think the ivory and the brown combination would look sharp,  especially with the brown base cover. The odds of finding a Kellogg ivory handset are long. The handset might be able to repaired by a professional, but would probably cost more than your lamp itself. just a thought. Ivory cradle over the brown handset with the ivory caps would look outstanding...Doug


Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and suggestions.  I've also been asking a few other folks, just taking my time with this one and avoiding the temptation to fiddle around at the risk of doing any further damage.  The consensus seems to be that this is a special phone worth spending some time and money on.  Steve Hilsz suggested that the phone is probably made of catalin, and put me on the trail of a catalin repair expert.  I have contacted that person with pictures of the phone -- asking for some guidance on the cost and time involved.  Some of the work that these guys do to repair damage to catalin on radios is amazing -- not to mention "way out of my league."  So, we'll see how it goes.


This is a great phone, and a truly sad mess.  I would try to repair the damage and restore the phone to functional condition.  Whoever did this probably had no idea just how rare that phone is in white. 


I've contacted someone named Paul Pontrello, who referred me to a Dan Blake.  Both of these guys are supposed to be some of the best at vintage plastic repair.  Their work looks pretty impressive.  It looks like the majority of their work has been done on radios.  The first said he was unable to help and referred me to the second (Blake).  Blake is an artist who is closing down his studio to travel the country for three years.  He suggested some ways to test to specifically identify the type of plastic it is made of, and said to contact him in three years (!!!) if I was still interested in the repair.  So I guess I'm back to square one.  

Someone named Bret Menassa put out a DYI vintage plastics repair DVD for radios a few years back, so I may get a copy of that and see if it helps at all.  It looks like most of the techniques used involve airbrushing or painting to achieve a close match between the patched area and the original part of the plastic.  



I found my first stick telephone in the 1970s in a cluttered antique shop I frequented in downtown Newark,  New Jersey.  Sad to say it had been converted into a lamp.  The price was dear back then, $50.  I had doubled parked, and was able to bargain from $75.  I haven't done my homework, but it's brass.  I found a lamp store that still had braided cable, and removed the lamp parts from the top.
On the other hand, I did much better, years earlier with another lamp conversion, this one a "Conestoga" wagon hub.  Ah but that's another story, and has no place here.

Why do people do this? A travesty, indeed!  >:(

Walt S

Doug Rose

Hey Walt....What is a "Conestoga" wagon hub candlestick. I'd love to see a picture....thanks....Doug