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Two-Tone Colored WECo 500 Telephones

Started by Jester, February 28, 2010, 11:48:47 PM

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Doug Rose

My question is still out there, how did you know this the real deal by looking at it and not a homebrew? I know its a 53 and two tones were made in 53, but I could put a green shell from 58 on this and it would like the same. Correct? Not a challenge, but every thinks its the real deal and I can't figure out how you all knew. This to me was a lot of money to gamble on the results....Doug

Dennis Markham

Doug, I don't think I ever KNOW one of these is the real deal.  The clues I look for are matching dates.  I consider that dial's old and probably original to the phone.  Does the seller sell phones, or was it listed by someone cleaning out Granny's attic?  Things like that tend to lead one to make a conclusion.  I suspect the handset cord on this one was replaced but otherwise it has all the makings of a phone that was put out in the wild with that configuration.  Sometimes I just take a chance.  I've been disappointed and delighted.  If I get one that I think is the real deal, then it my mind.

Doug Rose



Recently I was able to purchase a couple two tone 500's.  A red one on Ebay  ( dead link 06-28-21 )  that has all matching dates of 6/55 throughout and another one that is an ivory color that I has questions about.  The phone is in amazing shape and has dates throughout varying from 12/53 to 2/54.  The housing has a date of 10/53, ringer 12/53, dial 2/54, G1 handset 2/54.  So my question is is this one original as well or likely stuck together?  I thought that it was likely original with the fact that they are late one year and early into the next year but was going to ask the experts.  Either way I love the pieces and thought I got great deals.  BTW the red one looks rough because it has been sanded but no polish yet so bare with me.



I would guess that they are original.  You got a really great deal.  Don't worry, we won't tease you for having a strange phone ;).



Nice looking phones! Early 50's 500's are on top of my list of favorite phones!
They may or may not be original two tones. See color chart from Pauls site, states two tone sets had a color code followed by an A. Also states some black sets were coverted to two tone at the distribution center with color housings but does not have any special code listed. Quote:

Note: Two-tone sets were available for several years in the mid-1950s with colored housings and black handsets and dials.

They used the same color codes with the suffix A.  (e.g. -53A for two-tone red.)

Sets have also been found that have matching shells and handsets, but black dials with metal fingerwheels.

After the MD date, continued demand for 2-tone sets was satisfied by conversion of black sets using colored housings.  Work was performed at the Distribution Centers.

Paul's color chart page:
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"



The two tones are among my favorite color variations.  The two you have are a great start.  It was over twenty-five years between my first and second two tone set.


Do the two tone sets always have black dials and handsets and nothing else?
No other color combinations?


HEY! now what about the two tone 2500's???? and my "firemans Special" A 2564 thats a two tone....


Quote from: HowardPgh on November 16, 2012, 04:30:12 PM
Do the two tone sets always have black dials and handsets and nothing else?
No other color combinations?


There are several threads on the forum that discuss this.
Until they are combined, I hope what little I know will help.

1)  All true two-tones had 7D-3 dials & G-1 handsets, with black handset & wall mounting cords.  The handset cords could either be straight or coiled/ curly/ retractile.

2)  Early two-tones were identified w/ the suffix A after the color code ( i.e. 500D-51A= a 500 dial with moss green cover & black everything else).

3)  There are some early "full color" sets that have 7D-3 dials on them.  The explanation I have been given is that the number plates in the matching color were not ready, but the demand for these colors was high, so these few phones were released with black dials.  These colors were limited to -52(Gray), -53(Red), -56(Pastel Yellow), -57(Mediterranian Blue).  Most of these sets were issued with Dark Gray cords, but some actually have color matching cords.

4)  While the earliest two-tones are factory assemblies with the suffix A designator, there is a BSP that notes that, after 3/ 55, two-tone sets ordered by the customer can be assembled in the field by ordering a Black 500/D, and the desired colored cover, which would be changed when the set was installed.


Quote from: Jester on November 17, 2012, 12:29:04 AM
There are several threads on the forum that discuss this.
Until they are combined, I hope what little I know will help.

Sounds like some of my activities here on the forum have been discovered!  "Combining"

I have been doing quite a bit of organizing & combining of threads. Mostly with Dennis's approval I think. There is a wealth of information on the forum but it isn't always easy to find. I am slowly seeking out topics to merge together that are full of great info on individual telephone topics. Then in many cases I pin them to the top of the board that they are on so they become the go to place for information.

I hadn't thought of a two-tone thread until Jester mentioned it so here is a start. If I find more I will add that as well.

I hope that everyone is okay with me doing this. Comments are most welcome.



Quote from: Doug Rose on March 28, 2012, 09:55:53 AM
My question is still out there, how did you know this the real deal by looking at it and not a homebrew?

IMHO, a homebrew two-tone is most likely going to be made with a much too new black 500 set as most people wouldn't know that it needs to have all the old 1950's parts to be "real". Sure, a knowledgable person could create one from all correc dated parts and then it would pretty much be real since they didn't have to be coded properly to be lugitimate as some were lugitimately created right in the field.

Most of us can quickly spot a 500 type phone that has the potential to be from the 1950's so if it is two-tone, you are going to have to use your skills to determine the liklihood that it is "real" and then take a leap of faith when it comes to bidding.

If a phone went back for refurbishing which is where most often they became a mixture of different dated parts, it didn't likely come back out of that process as a two-tone! By the time that large numbers of 500's were being refurbed, two-tone was a thing of the past.

Quote from: jsowers on March 26, 2012, 04:51:16 PM
It looked all original to me, and in very good condition. I came in second. Jester came in first

That's another way to tell...wait and see if Jester buys it!



To change the topic away from purely WE phones. One of the items in my collection is an AE Brockville, Ont. matchbook advertising a two tone AE80! I remember seeing these matchbooks discarded in the gutters when they had been used up when I was young, and I lucked into one in really good shape (minus matches) years later...

The Telephone Museum of Prince Edward Island:
Free Admission - Call (902) 651-2762 to arrange a visit!
C*NET 1-651-0001


Yes just like the WECo 500's, AE did initially offer two tone 80's as well. It is probably even more difficult to substantiate its authenticity as a two tone since AE didn't date much of anything on its phones. I have seen a couple of two tone AE 80's on ebaY in the past and they don't go for much money typically.



In a Dec.,1953 practice, all 8 original colored 500s are listed, but only 4 Two-Tones:

Dash No.  Housing    No. Plate  Finger Wheel  Apparatus Blank* Handset  Cord

-50          Ivory        Ivory        Lucite            Ivory                  Ivory      Ivory
-51          Green       Green       Lucite            Green                 Green     Gray
-52          Gray         Black        Black             Gray                  Gray       Gray
-53          Red          Black        Black             Red                    Red        Gray
-54          Brown      Brown       Lucite            Brown                 Brown    Brown
-55          Beige       Beige        Lucite             Beige                 Beige      Gray
-56          Yellow      Black        Black              Yellow                Yellow     Gray
-57          Blue         Black        Black              Blue                   Blue       Gray

* No. card frame--chrome--all masks match set color.

Dash No. Housing   No. Plate   Finger Wheel  Apparatus Blank** Handset    Cord  

-50A       Ivory                            
-51A       Green       -------------------ALL BLACK----------------------------------
-52A       Gray
-53A       Red  

** No. card frame--black--no mask  

from Bell System Practices, Customer Equipment Series, Telephone Sets---500 Series, Use and Type, T.726.020, Issue 1, December, 1953, Sample Practice.

Note that in the "full colored sets," only ivory, brown, and gray had matching cords, and only ivory, green, brown and beige had matching number plates.

The 4 new colors weren't yet offered in Two-Tone as of December, 1953.

However, at this point there was not a lack of green or ivory number plates; so this was not the reason for continuing to offer two-tone green and ivory sets with black dials.
"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.