Classic Rotary Phones Forum

Telephone Talk => Collector's Corner => Topic started by: jsowers on September 15, 2009, 04:47:44 PM

Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on September 15, 2009, 04:47:44 PM
Topic split and continued from here:

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=1494.0


Thanks, Jester, for posting that. Still didn't hit my birthday, the 20th, though. It was a Tuesday. You'd think they would have made something on Tuesday! I guess it keeps me looking.

Dennis, from what I've seen, they didn't make aqua blue soft plastic 554s, or at least nobody has seen one that I know of. I have a color chip chart from 1959 that still had brown in the list, but there's no aqua blue 554 listed, nor pink. I posted a scan of that brochure below.

Also, Dennis, you're also looking for a dark gray 554 like I'm looking for a dark brown one. I have the rest, but not a picture of all of them together. I do have a picture without dark blue, dark beige and dark gray, my last three additions, so I'll post that. Yes, they're hard to display. Mine are propped against a shelf unit, on the floor.

I have a Pacific Telephone ad that shows the colors they came in too. It has light gray and white, so it's from after the color change in 1957-58. No aqua blue or pink. My pink one is from early 1959, and of course different Bells offered different colors sometimes.
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JorgeAmely on September 15, 2009, 04:57:03 PM
Dennis:

Are you OK?  :'( :'( :'(
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on September 15, 2009, 05:19:38 PM
My heart rate did increase for a few moments after seeing these but I'll be OK.  Thanks Jonathan for posting the color chart and your photo.  I guess I'll have to get mine out of their boxes and take some photos.  You would think a Light Beige would not be difficult to find but so far no luck here.  I was going by PaulF's site showing Aqua in 1957 but that chart is for the Model 500 and probably does not include the 554's.

Jonathan I would love to see a fresh photo with you latest three added to the mix.
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: The Operator on September 15, 2009, 06:28:12 PM
Johnathan, that picture is absolutely tasty!

Quote from: Dennis Markham on September 15, 2009, 05:19:38 PM
You would think a Light Beige would not be difficult to find but so far no luck here.

Dennis, is this the mythical beast? http://tinyurl.com/pp9usq

I can't tell for sure if it's the dark or not. ~The Operator
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on September 15, 2009, 07:26:20 PM
I spoke too soon and am modifying my reply.

According to the color suffix on the dial (-50) that is the color for Ivory.  However this phone sure looks like Light Beige.  Were it Dark Beige (or Rose Beige) the numbers/letters would be white.

The photos of the inside of the handset/caps look Ivory on my monitor.  But the other photos do look like Beige.  It's more than likely Ivory.
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on September 16, 2009, 11:15:18 AM
I agree, it's ivory. It's also a record price for it. Ivory may be the most plentiful color in soft plastic 554s, other than black. It did look like light beige in the first few shots, though, but in the closeups it's ivory. It's a hard color to identify. Try asking a seller if a phone is light beige or ivory. You get the same confusion when it's aqua blue vs. turquoise.

I forgot to mention something about the light beige soft plastic 554 in my picture. Did anyone notice it has a mounting cord and a 283B plug? I have always found that odd, and the cord date matches the phone. My pink 554 also came with a cord, but it was separate, and the phone was still in the box, and it wasn't NOS. I guess the light beige one came from a pre-wired home or something and had to plug in to a baseboard jack. I've seen pre-wired homes and sometimes they do put the jacks in odd places, like waist level on the wall.

Jorge, I liked your comment asking if Dennis was OK.  :)  The laugh for the day. I think I've sent him pictures of my phone display, so he was prepared, but not of just the 554s alone. I'll try this weekend to get a picture of the additional three. They also happened to be the rarest three colors I have and two came from BBQBob in Michigan (dark blue and dark beige) when he was selling things off a few years ago.

I've mentioned to Dennis several times that I admired his taste in phones. He and I tend to like the exact same phones and I could really tell after all those auctions where we competed against each other. It's a friendly rivalry and now that I know the person behind the handle, I have the utmost respect for him. He can also spot them like a hawk. Some of his police training, I bet. He would have been a great detective.
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on September 16, 2009, 01:28:43 PM
Thank you Jonathan for the compliments.  I am always circling over soft plastic phones waiting to swoop in and grab them.....as long as I can get them cheap! :)
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on September 16, 2009, 03:22:29 PM
I got the family together for a portrait today.  Absent are White, Light Beige, Dark Gray.

Seated, left to right are, Moss Green, Mahogany Brown, Black, Rose Beige, Light Gray, Rose Pink, Mediterranean Blue, Ivory, Cherry Red and Yellow
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dan on September 16, 2009, 04:29:28 PM
Absolutely beautiful! I only have ONE soft 554 (the obvious black). I am trying to get all the 500's first. I can't imagine how long it took to get these. What was your best bargain out of all of these Dennis?
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on September 16, 2009, 04:47:01 PM
Quote from: Dennis Markham on September 15, 2009, 05:19:38 PM
Jonathan I would love to see a fresh photo with you latest three added to the mix.

Dennis, that's a great family portrait and to paraphrase The Operator, that brown one is TASTY!  ;)

OK, here's the other three I didn't have in the picture. Both are cropped small pictures, but there they are. In December, my Christmas tree is next to my phone collection. I have many collections. Too many!

From left to right, dark beige, dark gray and dark blue. The eagle-eyes might notice that there's a Kellogg handset on the dark beige one. It came that way from Bob and I haven't changed it yet. The dark blue one also came from Bob, minus a cord, so I put a straight gray cord on it.

The dark gray 554 may be my best deal, but I don't have how much I paid entered in my spreadsheet. I don't think it was over $100, but I do remember the auction picture wasn't very good. I know from the seller it came from an elderly man's house and it had an ocean of old stickers and dirt on it. It was very well used. I posted two pictures showing before and after. It still has some deep scratches, but I decided to leave them be.
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JorgeAmely on September 16, 2009, 05:44:42 PM
Jonathan:

Are you OK?   :'( :'( :'(
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on September 16, 2009, 06:02:37 PM
Don't worry Dan, my light gray is feeling a little lonely now, too.  We all know how fast these silly things multiply, though. ;)

Jonathan and Dennis,

Those two collections are quite inspiring.
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: McHeath on September 16, 2009, 07:47:48 PM
Fab collections!  Maybe someday...
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: The Operator on September 16, 2009, 08:05:21 PM
Man, you guys are killing me. ;D Very nice indeed.

*sings* "Killing me softly with these phones... killing me softly... with these phones... "

That blue is fine! ~The Operator
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: bingster on September 16, 2009, 09:22:53 PM
Guys, those phones need to be in a museum.  I have a spare room that I'd like to offer as museum space.  Just let me know.  ;)
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: bwanna on September 16, 2009, 09:35:57 PM
sheeesh, i am just going to take my little hodge podge collection over to the corner & drool.

just gorgeous, guys :)
Title: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on September 17, 2009, 12:01:58 AM
Thank you everyone for the nice comments.  You know, I think this is the first time I had them all out at once---when I "played" with them today to take the photos.  The brown looks black in the photos.   That is a difficult color to photograph.

My best bargain is the Mahogany Brown set.  As I've reported before, I got this phone early on in my phone buying venture.  I was buying up a lot of stuff that was cheap.  I was refurbishing and reselling stuff, keeping some for myself.  I saw a group of phones being sold as one lot.  I think there were 6 554's.  At the time I didn't know about hard/soft plastic or brown.  I just saw 6 554's and bid on them.  I got all of them for about $20.00.  The brown one was in the box too.  I hung it on a nail in my basement workshop along with the others and it sat there for probably a year.  I decided I'd take it down and clean it up to sell.  I had no clue that brown was difficult to find.  I was beginning to learn about the color codes on the dial and did not know what color went with -54. I e-mailed a friend that is a phone collector and said I had a 554 with that color code and asked if he knew what it was.  He replied by asking if I had a brown phone, and said it was rare.  He said he'd be interested in buying it and if I listed it on eBay to let him know.  I decided then and there to begin a collection of all the colors and I'd start with one of the most difficult to find.

The red 554 in the photo is soft plastic.  The handset cord was replaced with a newer one.  I have another soft red 554 but used this one for the photograph.

I just started picking them up when one came along.  It's taken about five years so far to get the ones I have, which I think is a rather short period of time.  I did buy the Ivory and Yellow from a collector friend that was liquidating his stock.  But he listed them on eBay and I had to be the highest bidder.  I paid a little bit more for those than I would like to have paid.  The fun part is hunting them and trying to get them cheap.  Fixer uppers are good.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on September 21, 2009, 04:42:51 PM
Quote from: JorgeAmely on September 16, 2009, 05:44:42 PM
Jonathan:

Are you OK?   :'( :'( :'(

Just fine. I've had lots of responsibilities besides posting on the forum lately. Had to be a caregiver to my mom, but she's now getting back to normal and I have more free time. I didn't need reviving after seeing Dennis' 554s, but they were very nice to see all together. One day when I have time, I'm still going to take a better group picture of mine and post it.

I did go back and change BuffaloBob to BBQBob, in case anyone was confused. I guess I had Howdy Doody on the brain or something.  :)
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Tonyrotary on September 21, 2009, 08:05:03 PM
Just awsome collections guys. I only have 1 554 and hard plastic at that. But it was my first rotary phone ever.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on September 21, 2009, 08:11:51 PM
Thanks Tony.  You just need to find them one at a time...it's the hunt that is the most fun...OK, bragging about them is fun too! :)
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on November 02, 2009, 12:03:49 AM
I felt this was the best place to post a picture of my latest "find", a black 554 with satin hook.  This one's a real beauty, but I didn't do anything other than hang it on the wall-- this one is some of Dennis Markham's latest work.  He traded this one for a color 554 he was wanting for his collection.  Maybe, if we all smile :) :) :) & say "Pretty ,Please", he'll post a photo of what he got in trade.  BTW Dennis, the black 228 mount looks GREAT--Thanks Again!!




Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: bellsystemproperty on November 02, 2009, 01:01:29 AM
I got a green all original 554 in soft plastic for five bucks ;D ;D ;D (look in my other thread) I like the soft plastic. It's strange that more things today aren't made in the tenite soft plastic. It has a  unique feel to it.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on November 02, 2009, 09:28:45 AM
Thanks Jester, I'm glad you like the black 554.  I have been meaning to post a photo of the phone I got from you.  I just haven't had a minute to take a "new" picture.  I will do so and post it here soon.  Thank you again!
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dan on November 02, 2009, 08:33:02 PM
Comeon, Dennis whatcha get? Enquiring minds want to know...
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on November 02, 2009, 11:45:07 PM
Stephen contacted me a couple of weeks ago after Jsowers and I had posted photos of our soft plastic 554 wall phones.  I had indicated that the three colors I needed to complete my collection of them were Light Beige, Oxford Gray and White.  Stephen said he had purchased one in Light Beige and had done some refurbishing to it.  He proposed a trade for a soft plastic model in Black with the satin switch hook.  The deal was done and Stephen sent me the phone he had refurbished for my collection and I in turn sent him the black model shown above.

The phone Stephen sent me was made in December of 1958 and is soft plastic.  It has the wide chrome hook and now proudly fills the vacancy in my collection.  I'm still looking for Oxford Gray and White.

Thank you Stephen!  Below are a couple of pictures.  The ones on the wall were taken at Stephen's home.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dan on November 03, 2009, 10:32:22 AM
Nice!!!!!!!! two to go Dennis.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dan/Panther on November 03, 2009, 12:41:09 PM
You guys are getting me way too interested in 554 wall phones, I just can't swing another addition to my collection.
BTW, what is the average prices for a plain black one, that should satisfy my urge........ ::) ::)
D/P
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dan on November 03, 2009, 09:05:25 PM
Really depends on the date, Dan, but a real early black one should set you back around $75, especially with a thick switchhook
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on November 03, 2009, 10:45:18 PM
A couple of years ago I was buying those black 554's on eBay for under $5 plus shipping.  If you keep your eyes open there are still some good deals that surface from time to time.  The dirtier they are the more likely to get an original one.  Sometimes those really nasty ones turn out to be the most fun to refurbish.  At least for me that is the case.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on January 26, 2010, 12:28:02 AM
I haven't had anything to report in awhile, so I thought you might enjoy these 554's.  This ivory is my latest acquisition, and it was a BUY IT NOW for $29.95 with free shipping.  It only had one picture, but I noticed the larger chrome hook & took a chance.  It is from 6/59, & all the plastic except the transmitter cap was soft--it was dated 8/59.  The only disappointments were two breaks I discovered in the cover-- one in the upper right corner & the other was a diagonal break in the right corner of the hook cutout.  Other than addressing those & some deep scratches along with the usual filth on the outside, cleanup was routine.  This has now replaced the black wallphone that I got from Dennis as my daily driver.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on January 26, 2010, 12:32:09 AM
This is a yellow example from 7-8/58 that I picked up awhile ago.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Craig T on January 26, 2010, 12:56:51 AM
That is a nice clean 554. Great addition! I have one black soft 554.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: finlover on January 26, 2010, 01:01:07 AM
I've only restored one colored soft plastic 554: a Cherry Red '57.  My dad has it now so maybe someday I'll get it back.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: finlover on January 26, 2010, 01:02:02 AM
a few more shots
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on January 26, 2010, 09:04:55 AM
Nice phones Jester, and a nice price.  I like the look of the original dial card on the Ivory too.  The yellow 554 is very nice as well in great shape.  That color is very difficult to find in soft plastic, even more "rare" than the desk version.  Often those soft plastic housings are kind of translucent. If you hold it up to the light you will see through the plastic, or see light coming through.  That won't happen with the ABS brother. 

Greg, yet another beautiful red phone.  That wide hook is very nice.  Was that the dial card that was on it when you got it?  I think I have a weakness for them in red........and Yellow....and Ivory....and...........
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: finlover on January 26, 2010, 09:45:34 AM
Quote from: Dennis Markham on January 26, 2010, 09:04:55 AM
Was that the dial card that was on it when you got it?

Glad you like it, Dennis!  The dial card came off a parts phone, but I thought it added a little interest. 
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on January 26, 2010, 10:14:55 AM
Yes Greg, it's a great card.  717, Philly area.  Beautiful phone.  Is it going to hang on the wall?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: finlover on January 26, 2010, 12:00:05 PM
It hanging in a hallway in my dad's house, so I get to see it once in a while.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on January 26, 2010, 12:02:56 PM
I like red too, Greg.  One went on auction last week, but someone did some offline bargaining for it & it was gone the next day.  Yours is a real prize, & I bet Dad likes it, too.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on January 26, 2010, 04:22:30 PM
Quote from: Jester on January 26, 2010, 12:32:09 AM
This is a yellow example from 7-8/58 that I picked up awhile ago.

Jester, it's a very nice example of yellow. Donna, do you see what great phones were made in 8-58? This one was made in early August, so it's not likely to have any birthday dates for either Donna or me. But it's nice to see. That coil cord is lighter yellow and most of the light colors did that early on. Like pink and both beiges, the cords faded lighter. It makes it look more original, so I wouldn't change it.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: finlover on January 26, 2010, 04:22:55 PM
Quote from: Jester on January 26, 2010, 12:02:56 PM
I like red too, Greg.  One went on auction last week, but someone did some offline bargaining for it & it was gone the next day.  Yours is a real prize, & I bet Dad likes it, too.
Thanks, Jester,
Since I've gotten into old phones, Dad has developed quite an appreciation for them.  I grew up with a white 2554 in our house which Dad wanted to replace with a white early'60s 554.  He prefers the more vintage look and the dual gong ringer.  

I love the red '57 though--I'm glad it stayed in the family!
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on January 26, 2010, 04:34:57 PM
And those wide, or thick hooks and the lower profile of the open center finger wheel really give them a nice look compared to the later models.  There are some nice lookin' phones displayed on this posting! :)
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JimH on January 26, 2010, 04:43:36 PM
Did anyone stop to think that if it weren't for people like us collecting all these vintage works of art, they may have been lost forever?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on January 26, 2010, 05:04:29 PM
Hey Greg, if you go to www.anywho.com and do a reverse look-up on that phone number, it is still active and comes back to a person in Duncannon, PA.  It may or may be the person that had the red phone, but it's certainly the same number in the same town.

~Dennis
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: McHeath on January 26, 2010, 06:59:08 PM
These are some sweet 554s.  Scary nice.  All I ever see locally are badly faded and stickered up modular units for outrageous prices. 
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on May 10, 2010, 11:01:20 PM
I haven't seen any 554's here recently, so I dragged this old thread from the pit to show off my moss green example from 12/56.  It is a date matched example with a nearly perfect satin finish hook & dark gray handset cord.  There was almost no normal wear in the normal places, leading me to believe it has spent most of its life in a box.  The only major blemish on the plastics were caused by chemical reaction.  The slimy sheen that seems common with these early vinyl cords as they age will cause a "wart" on soft plastic if it comes into contact with it.  Apart from that & some minor scratches, this one was nearly perfect.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dan on May 10, 2010, 11:41:29 PM
Beautiful! Love the grey cord!
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JorgeAmely on May 11, 2010, 12:09:42 AM
Stephen:

Very nice 554! Definitely looks brand new from here since there is not cord sag at all.

Is it in use now or going back to the box? 
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: McHeath on May 11, 2010, 12:20:13 AM
Wow!  Love that phone!  Moss Green is a favorite, and with the early 554 features, including a great condition cord, this one is a real sweet phone. 
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on May 11, 2010, 12:39:23 AM
Beautiful phone, Stephen.  The gray cord and satin hook look great!
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on May 12, 2010, 11:05:02 AM
Stephen, a "wart" is a great name for that reaction. It comes from long-time contact between the cord and the housing and it's very stubborn to remove. I've also noticed cords from WE phones sticking to my wood shelves in my office. When I dust, which is like once a year, all the cords are stuck to the finish on the shelves. It takes a while for this to happen and I don't know what product was applied to the shelves. Likely some kind of polyurethane. It doesn't seem to damage the cords at all, but I do notice it makes them a little sticky, like you mentioned.

Your 554 is very nice. There aren't many 554s with gray cords around. I only have two. Green changed to green cords later than the rest of the colors, it seems. I think it was sometime in 1957. I have a green 554 from 1-57 very similar to yours that did spend its life in a box (that came with the phone), and it may have spent that time in the box without a cord. It came with two straight gray handset cords, but one was still in the wrapper, and from what I can tell from BSPs, color 554s other than ivory never came with straight cords. So I think maybe someone added it somewhere along the line.

Mine has the shiny chrome switchhook. So it's likely that changed between December and January. If I recall correctly, it's the 1956 phones that have the satin finish hook.

I posted some pictures of it below, for comparison, as I took it out of the box on my front steps. Thanks for reviving the thread.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on May 12, 2010, 11:13:53 AM
Thanks for those photos, Jonathan.  I really like the look of that gray straight cord on the green 554....or any of the phones for that matter. 
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on May 12, 2010, 11:23:34 AM
Recently a fellow sent me his Red 554.  It was dated 2-14-57---another Valentine's Day phone.  It had the "warts" or what he called blisters from the cord.  My job was to remove those blisters and also a sticker from the front.  The phone came to him all original except for a replaced dial/bezel.  A soft plastic dial bezel was located and a 7C -53 dial with a different date was added to make it closer to original.  Here are a couple of before and after shots of the front of the phone.  It turned out very nice but I had to go down to 400 grit sandpaper to remove the blemishes caused by that handset cord.

Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JorgeAmely on May 12, 2010, 11:29:59 AM
Jonathan:

Where do you find these beauties?

I have removed a few of those warts by rolling 400 or 600 grit sandpaper over a 6 inch piece of 1/4 inch dowel or a pencil. Just sand over it to get rid of the wart. Finish off with 1000 and Novus 2.

I have noticed also cords sticking to painted shelves. Must be some chemical reaction going on between the cord plastic (out gassing perhaps?) and the material of the painted shelves. I notice the stickiness in as little as a few weeks (not that I dust them that often).

Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JorgeAmely on May 12, 2010, 11:33:43 AM
Dennis:

The owner is going to be very happy with his new "old" phone.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on May 12, 2010, 12:27:19 PM
I like both of these--thanks for the pics, fellas.

Jonathan,
That is an unusual card retainer inside the fingerwheel on your moss green.  I see things like that & wonder if it was really done when it was installed, and now, here's a picture of one straight from the box.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on May 12, 2010, 12:31:52 PM
Stephen, I didn't even pay attention to that dial card retainer.  You're so right, that doesn't belong in one of those finger wheels.  Jonathan, what's the story with that?  Do you think that was original to the phone?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: paul-f on May 12, 2010, 01:40:23 PM
It appears to be one of the later retainers that was designed for the metal number card holders (later made in plastic) that fit the #2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 dials.

It was a one-piece unit that replaced the earlier seperate metal disk and spring arrangement, providing a friction fit against the card holder.

The plastic fingerwheels should have a different shaped retainer with fingers that slide into groves in the fingerwheel.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: McHeath on May 13, 2010, 12:07:03 AM
Wow!  What great 554s!  Where do you guys find these fab phones?  All I ever see around here are modularized franken554s in beige or ivory, beat up and overpriced.  I've never seen such sweet early 554s.

Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on May 17, 2010, 10:25:50 AM
Quote from: Dennis Markham on May 12, 2010, 12:31:52 PM
Stephen, I didn't even pay attention to that dial card retainer.  You're so right, that doesn't belong in one of those finger wheels.  Jonathan, what's the story with that?  Do you think that was original to the phone?

Sorry to be so late in responding, Dennis. Stephen you have sharp eyes! I never noticed that incorrect retainer and I haven't put a card in that phone since I wanted to keep it original. It's still in the box. I have a feeling someone else put that retainer in there because didn't they originally come with the retainer in a little paper or glassine envelope, along with the clear protector that sits next to the number card? That would explain why the protector on this one is bowed out. What you see is how it came from the box sent to me because these were taken on the doorstep as I unpacked it.

Since the straight cord was attached when I got it, and likely isn't original, I have a feeling someone must have put that retainer in there too. This phone came from eBay in 2006. I don't think it was cheap at all, considering it was new in the box. I think it was $132.51, if my auction spreadsheet can be trusted.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on December 01, 2010, 09:16:30 PM
I usually don't post pictures or descriptions of my new additions until I go through them & have them on display, but I consider this one special.  I had given up on finding any more 554's in soft plastic this year and had actually started picking up early ABS examples to fill in the holes in my collection.  Then I saw this auction:http://tinyurl.com/29uynlt
(http://tinyurl.com/29uynlt)

As you'll notice when you open the link, the pictures were few & showed almost no detail, but I thought I noticed a large chrome hook on the white one, and the ringer adjustment lever was the "straight" type.  Could this be a white soft plastic 554?

I took a chance & won the auction, & the white one is indeed mostly tenite.  The cover is dated 3 10 59 3, the handset handle is 11 58, the cord is from the same time, transmitter cap is 2 59 & receiver cap is 8 59...definitely ABS.  The rest of the phone is dated between 2/58 & 4/58.  The cover has two tight cracks in the upper righthand corner, but that is the only major damage & the color is still quite good.  Cleanup should not be a problem.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on December 01, 2010, 09:41:53 PM
Nice job on that one Stephen.  That is one of the most difficult colors to find in soft plastic.  It's unusual to see a phone of that vintage with the modular back plate on the back. 

What a great price too.  Congratulations!  
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Vern P on December 01, 2010, 11:49:06 PM
Yes congrats on your find. Yes a clean White soft phone is very hard to find. Well that goes for any White phone. White just seam to be over look by a lot of folks.

Vern P
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: cihensley@aol.com on December 02, 2010, 12:09:14 PM
Here are two suggestions for getting your wall phones off the floor. The first is a display made out of oak that is mounted on a lazy suzy base, so it rotates to display all four sides. The second is an over a door display. It is made of rift sawn oak veneer 1/4 ply with a solid moulding frame. It hangs over a door with two brackets made from 24 gauge metal painted flat black.

Chuck
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on December 02, 2010, 12:33:34 PM
I like those displays, but whatever you do, don't slam the door! ;D

Congratulations. Stephen, on getting one of the harder-to-find soft plastic 554s for a decent price. I totally missed that auction. It already has the backplate on it that you need to go over your window. What luck! Dennis is right--these are rarely seen with modular backplates, but I guess if someone had their hard-wired house made modular, the existing wall phone would be included.

I have found through the ones I've bought and seen that white soft plastic is prone to cracking, and 554s themselves are prone to cracking, so having one or two cracks is par for the course on those. I have also seen unusual crazing on white soft plastic. I don't think it had nearly the tendency to fade to brown as white hard plastic (ABS). Yours looks to be very clean with the original fat handset cord, and it should display nicely.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: cchaven on December 06, 2010, 02:14:36 PM
Today I picked up my second cherry red 500, a 554 with plastics dating 7-57 and the base and electronics, including dial, dated 9-57.  It needs to be cleaned up a bit, but there's no damage or cracks or stickers and it still has the original fat handset cord.  Though it has a few kinks in it, the cord isn't stretched out.  It also included the red wood backplate.  Overall it's going to be a nice phone when cleaned up.

Jeff
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on December 06, 2010, 11:58:32 PM
That is a very nice find, Jeff.  It will go nicely with your red 500.  If you check the threads, you will find a how-to on how to straighten and even tighten (if needed) your handset cord.  Finding a phone that still has the original color matched wooden mounting plate is really special!  Post some pics. when you can.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: cchaven on December 09, 2010, 02:56:49 PM
Here's a picture of the cherry red '57 554 and it's 172B backing board.  I've only done light cleaning on the 554 so far but even the open fingerwheel is in nice shape.

Jeff
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on December 09, 2010, 03:57:10 PM
I'm sure there are several ways to get paint spots and marks off soft plastic, but what I use is DuPont white polishing compound (pictured below) bought from a mom and pop car parts place near my house that specializes in painting supplies. It may not be available any longer. It has a solvent in it that doesn't harm soft plastic and a mild abrasive that gets off embedded dirt. You have to wipe it off with a damp cloth after it dries, similar to what you'd do to a car finish. Then polish with Novus 2 and it looks great.

That's a very nice red 554 you have, and the backboard is nice to have too. I think by 1958 or so that all backboards were plastic. Of course, what was in the installer's truck is what went up on the wall. So something saved from earlier times might be on a later phone.

Early 554s more than most any other phone suffer from paint splashes because they were screwed to the wall. Sometimes it's really bad on the edges of the housing.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on December 09, 2010, 04:05:13 PM
Very nice phone, Jeff.  One of my favorites.  I have a couple dated from Valentine's Day that year.  The wooden backboard is nice too.  They are difficult to find.  I have one (wooden) in black, yellow and red.  I'd like to find others.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on January 09, 2011, 01:15:30 PM
Below are pictures of my very last auction find for 2010.  It seems fitting to me that it is a 554, since my big effort all year was to find as many of the different colors this phone came in as I could.  My reward for this effort has been to find nine different colors this year, bringing my total to thirteen.  As a bonus, nine of them have all soft plastic parts on the outside.  This latest one is soft plastic, but painted.  My reason for wanting it-- the plastics are Oxford Gray under all that light gray paint.  I can also use the 7C-61 dial & lt. gray handset cord & backboard on another project, so this was a great buy overall.

http://tinyurl.com/38dt3u9
(http://tinyurl.com/38dt3u9)
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: baldopeacock on January 09, 2011, 02:38:08 PM
I saw this auction and wondered if it was Oxford Gray under the light gray.   Major win for YOU!   Congrats.   This has to be a rarity.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on January 09, 2011, 09:36:08 PM
As can be seen in the pictures, there will be a good amount of work involved to uncover the dark color on the plastics.  Another concern when cleaning up a phone like this one is finding the missing parts in the same color as what's under the paint.  Considering how tough it's been for Dennis to find a replacement bezel for his dark gray 500, I'm not even hoping for one.  Instead, I'm trying to find a 95B dial blank.  I spotted one in dark gray in Cyberland, but the two inquiries I've made concerning it's availability have gone unanswered so far.  I do have a couple other parts that will go a long way toward making this one look good-- a spare curly handset cord & a 172B-52 backboard!  If I can't get the dial blank, I have one in another color I can paint.  Oh, & a chrome number retainer to finish the look.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on January 09, 2011, 10:15:52 PM
Stephen, that is a great find with that phone.  As I mentioned in my email to you the other day, I had seen the phone but thought it was a black one painted Light Gray.  You were smart to take a change with it.  Congratulations.

That backboard and coiled cord are both Dark Gray?  You've had those for a while?

I did buy a NOS dark gray coiled handset cord from Steve Hilsz six or eight months ago.  I didn't really have an application for it but was saving it for the day when I find an Oxford Gray 554.  One of these days....

That is a dilemma about the dial bezel.  I hadn't thought of that.  If it were a Model 500 you could make a "black dial" set out of it.  I thought of doing it with my Dark Gray 500 with the damaged bezel, but for now it "displays well" as they say. 

That will be a fun project for you.  Hopefully that paint is not Polane and the Easy Off oven cleaner will remove the paint.  Have you determined yet if it's Polane?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on January 09, 2011, 11:34:47 PM
Dennis,
I've had the extra handset cord since early last year, when I swapped it for a straight black cord on my twotone gray 500.  I got the backboard about two months ago with my soft red 554.  I almost offered it to Vern P., but I couldn't think of anything I needed in trade.  I also thought "Nah, maybe I'll need it."  I guess I did.

It looks like the paint is polane.  Oh well, I've been there before.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on January 10, 2011, 01:30:36 PM
If anyone that read my first posting on this light gray/dark gray phone experienced deja vu, you might want to click the link to a thread Just4Phones started last May.  Lightning really can strike twice. 
http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=2694.0 (http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=2694.0)
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on January 10, 2011, 02:57:47 PM
Stephen that is pretty amazing.  It's not the same one is it?  Maybe lightning can strike again?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JorgeAmely on January 10, 2011, 03:37:49 PM
Quote from: Jester on January 09, 2011, 11:34:47 PM
....
It looks like the paint is polane.  Oh well, I've been there before.
....

Stephen:

Congrats on the Oxford Gray phone. Unfortunately, it seems like the early paint jobs were made with Polane. I'll be interested in seeing how you tackle the logo. Perhaps you can use a very fine spray gun (used by hobbyist) to just paint over the logo with some custom made Oxford Gray paint.

Looking forward to see the results.

Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on January 10, 2011, 04:57:44 PM
Quote from: Dennis Markham on January 10, 2011, 02:57:47 PM
Stephen that is pretty amazing.  It's not the same one is it?

Looking at the auction and Forum pictures, the one Just4Phones had was more worn on the earcap than the one Stephen got, and Stephen's has a light gray backboard and a few dings on the corners. But they are eerily similar. They did probably go through the same refurb process. When light gray came out in 1957-58 would be the time I'd think it could have happened. Maybe they took leftovers and turned them into new models? I can imagine dark gray 554s were not popular at all, so it stands to reason they had some left over.

Stephen, it's great you have that backboard. I remember when you got it. Spare parts have a way of generating the rest of the phone sometimes. I've bought a couple soft plastic "phones of many colors" that soon donated their parts to phones I got afterwards. Once I found a 500 that was part dark gray and part red and I managed to combine that with another part dark gray phone and make one complete dark gray. And the red caps left over from that went to yet another phone.

Good luck getting the paint off. I hope to see the finished product someday hanging on your wall in the display.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: HarrySmith on January 10, 2011, 07:03:08 PM
That is pretty wild, at first glance I would say that is the same phone. Is Rod Serling nearby?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Just4Phones on January 10, 2011, 09:17:21 PM
No that is not my phone.  Dennis has first dibs on it anyway if it goes  ;D  When I saw this thread I thought hmmmmm that does look like my phone.  Maybe W.E. made this a practice in the late 50's and these are as rare as the oxfords?   I'm holding out for a med blue or red or green 500 with gray cords as a trade.  Alas...... one day  :-\   I'll own one.  Joel
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on May 11, 2011, 06:26:46 PM
I am finally ready to show the forum what came with that dark gray backboard that was mentioned previously.  I was more than thrilled to win this dark red 554, but slightly disappointed in its overall condition when it got here.  As I soaked in all the things wrong with it, my disappointment gave over to pure amazement-- I still can't explain why certain things done to the phone during its removal from its resting place of many years didn't cause more extensive damage or destroy it completely!

To begin with, someone tried removing the cover by PRYING the latch open instead of pushing the tab into the mouse hole to release it.  In the process, the D shaped tab broke off the latch, and there were gouge marks around the mouse hole, and a rib on the left side of the latch broke off & went missing! :o  With the force needed to remove this piece of metal from the latch, it surprises me that the cover didn't crack somewhere along the bottom edge.

After the cover was released from the bottom of the base, more damage was caused when the cover was lifted up over the large switch hook.  On these early 554's, the only way to remove the cover is to depress the hook down, or there won't be enough room to pass the cover over the hook.  This resulted in several deep gouges along the upper circumference of the dial opening.  These did not prove easy to remove, because care has to be taken to smooth this rounded, sharp edged shape, or you will turn it into an oval.

Once I removed the cover, I discovered the entire inside was covered in thick black mold.  This phone had obviously been in service in a VERY damp place, and the mold had even grown on the lacquered insulation, hiding the different colors.

Finally, I discovered areas on the outside cover had been painted over--with lacquer-based varnish! The painters had been somewhat careful with their job, but all four corners & a few spots along the edges had definite marks left on them.  And, since it was lacquer based, it reacted with the tenite cover in a way that brightened the color where ever it contacted.

Even so, this early wallphone was able to be saved.  Below are some shots I took today.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on May 11, 2011, 06:52:36 PM
Very nice, Stephen.  You did a great job making it look original again.  That is a very nice telephone!  Is that hook the brushed aluminum type?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on May 11, 2011, 07:08:13 PM
Dennis,
The hook is the early style with the dull/rough finish.  I used some techniques you mentioned in an earlier thread to clean it.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on May 11, 2011, 09:53:51 PM
Stephen, it's a beautiful phone now. No wonder it took a while to bring this one back to original. I've seen varnish on plastic before and it's not easy to remove. You do really good work! Kitchen phones get lots of gunk inside them. Not everyone had an exhaust fan in the kitchen in those days.

I remember this auction and I remember bidding on the phone because of the backboard, but I don't think any of that damage was visible or mentioned. I've gotten several 554s with damage like that--broken ribs and dials not mounted correctly. It's incredible how many people can't figure out how to get them open.

I see you've changed the backboard to a red one. If it's not too much trouble, could you post a picture of the dark gray backboard? It's the only one I've ever seen. I hope it leads you right to the dark gray 554 to go with the backboard. A rare phone indeed.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: JorgeAmely on May 11, 2011, 11:21:08 PM
Another amazing rescue operation from Steven. I am glad it will probably be admired and kept around for another 50+ years.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: GG on May 12, 2011, 05:23:21 AM


Beautiful job, Stephen.  Amazing work.   What did you do to get rid of the black mold and minimize the risk of it returning?   And what do you do when you get one with a housing that's warped? 
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on May 13, 2011, 11:50:41 PM
Quote from: jsowers on May 11, 2011, 09:53:51 PM
If it's not too much trouble, could you post a picture of the dark gray backboard? It's the only one I've ever seen. I hope it leads you right to the dark gray 554 to go with the backboard. A rare phone indeed.

Jonathan,
Here are a few fresh shots of the backboard.  I have included a 172B-3 for contrast.  You may have forgot this, but there was an earlier pic. that I provided above.
http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=1510.60 (http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=1510.60)
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Jester on May 14, 2011, 12:12:24 AM
Quote from: GG on May 12, 2011, 05:23:21 AM



What did you do to get rid of the black mold and minimize the risk of it returning?   And what do you do when you get one with a housing that's warped? 

GG,
I squirted the entire cover down with sudsy ammonia and water and let it soak for @ 15 to 20 minutes.  I then rinsed it in warm water & scrubbed clean with a soft sponge.  The water tends to leave a cloudy film on soft plastic, and soaps & cleansers make this more noticable.  Polishes, such as Novus 2, will remove this film, so I have not worried about the effects of water & cleaners.  The only "sealers" I have ever used are Novus 2 & F21 protectant.  So far, I have been pleased with the results.

Regarding warpage--I have been "lucky".  None of my 554's have shown signs of warpage.  In the few cases that I have run into it, a hairdryer & some pressure using thumb & forefinger have produced positive results.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: m1898 on December 16, 2011, 07:12:34 PM
Last month my son got me an ITT 554 with the 172B-3 backboard. When he took it off the wall where is was at (it was still in use) he almost didn't take the board. He even got the screws that Bell used to mount it on the wall. At the time I had never seen the board used. My board is black.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Mr. Bones on February 02, 2013, 03:07:22 PM
     I love this thread!!!!

    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who really enjoys, and collects the 554's...

    You guys have some incredible, totally-enviable collections of 554's(!!!!!) I have but four, at present - a curable condition, I presume! ;)

    I was wondering if anybody on the list can refer me to, has, or can measure the dimensions, layout of holes, etc., for the 172B backing board Bell once provided / utilized for the installation of these wall units?

    I wish to fabricate some from various hardwoods, to match the decor of the room installed in, as I think it would add considerable elegance and visual appeal, vs. screwed to the wall, as they presently are.

    Is there a BSP that gives a detailed layout drawing? Sorry for yet another newbie question ::), but, um, er, I am a newbie to some of this... :D

    Thanks in advance, anticipating your input! I wish all of you a most enjoyable weekend, and my very best regards to you and yours!

Terrence
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Mr. Bones on February 02, 2013, 03:52:04 PM
     I searched the site, found a back board thread with a reference http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=4954.msg62552#msg62552 to 463-130-100, but searching out the document at TCI only provided install info for plastic back boards, so still searching for dimensions...

     Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!

Best regards,

Terrence
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: paul-f on February 02, 2013, 06:24:51 PM
Quote from: Mr. Bones on February 02, 2013, 03:52:04 PM

     I searched the site, found a back board thread with a reference http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=4954.msg62552#msg62552 to 463-130-100, but searching out the document at TCI only provided install info for plastic back boards


That BSP gives the overall dimensions - 10 x 5 5/8 and shows the hole layout.

You could estimate the locations of the holes by printing a large Fig 16 and using proportions to get the measurements.

Checking earlier BSPs, the wood 172A and 172B were the same overall dimensions.

C37.201 Addendum issue 1, 8/55 has directions to modify an A to a B.

  1. drill a 3/8 hole on the centerline 1 3/8" up from the bottom for the 554 or 556.

  2. drill a3/8 hole on the centerline 3 1/2" down from the top for the 558.

The holes are for the mointing cord.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Mr. Bones on February 02, 2013, 06:45:28 PM
Quote from: paul-f on February 02, 2013, 06:24:51 PM
That BSP gives the overall dimensions - 10 x 5 5/8 and shows the hole layout.

You could estimate the locations of the holes by printing a large Fig 16 and using proportions to get the measurements.

Checking earlier BSPs, the wood 172A and 172B were the same overall dimensions.

C37.201 Addendum issue 1, 8/55 has directions to modify an A to a B.

 1. drill a 3/8 hole on the centerline 1 3/8" up from the bottom for the 554 or 556.

 2. drill a3/8 hole on the centerline 3 1/2" down from the top for the 558.

The holes are for the mointing cord.


Many Thanks, Paul!

    I didn't see it in the .pdf I linked to at the TCI site... it was only two pages, a small excerpt from the referenced BSP, apparently... should have tried some of the other links, sorry for the trouble, sir!

    This is exactly the type of information I need, along with hole diameters, countersink diameter and depth, edge radius, etc. I want mine to be right, or not bother making any, at all!!!

    Just the way my OS works, and I apologize for that... ;) (Think 'Johnny Five'!!!) :D

</OCD Perfectionism> http://tinyurl.com/5d47qy

'Normal'

Best regards,

Terrence
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: paul-f on February 02, 2013, 07:53:43 PM
Quote from: Mr. Bones on February 02, 2013, 06:45:28 PM

    I didn't see it in the .pdf I linked to at the TCI site... it was only two pages, a small excerpt from the referenced BSP, apparently... should have tried some of the other links, sorry for the trouble, sir!


Interesting.  I took the info from your post, searched in the Library and got here:
 
  http://www.telephonecollectors.info/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&gid=9988&Itemid=2 (http://www.telephonecollectors.info/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&gid=9988&Itemid=2)

Fig 16 is on page 9 of 34!

The BSPs usually don't provide construction details, only info that's relevant to the installer.

Perhaps someone who has a 172B can photograph it and provide the dimensions.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on September 11, 2013, 05:17:07 PM
Just read this thread for the first time...  I do have one of each of the backboards, the 172A, 172B, and 172C.

By my measurement, the dimensions are:


Model No. Height Width ThicknessMaterialCorners
172A105-5/80-9/16woodround
172B10-1/16 5-11/160-11/16woodsharp
172C105-9/160-7/16plasticround

Pics of 172 A and B next to each other.
My 172B is actually a 172B-57 (Mediterranean Blue) that was later on the wall over-painted black.

Pictures are in 300 dpi resolution. with the above dimensions it should be possible to place the holes fairly accurately. Perhaps I'll measure them by hand some time.
My 172C is mounted on a stand, have no pics currently.

These pictures show more differences than just hole location.  For example the corners are either round or sharp, and the groove in the back is square vs. rounded.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: paul-f on September 11, 2013, 05:46:48 PM
Quote from: unbeldi on September 11, 2013, 05:17:07 PM

PS: sorry the table columns don't align very well here... copied from my collection wiki.


Thanks for the info.

Here is your table after clicking on the Preformatted text icon and adding a few strategic spaces.

By my measurement, the dimensions are:

Model No.    Height      Width     Thickness  Material    Corners
172A         10          5-5/8     0-9/16     wood        round
172B         10-1/16     5-11/16   0-11/16    wood        sharp
172C         10          5-9/16    0-7/16     plastic     round
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on September 11, 2013, 06:27:47 PM
Quote from: paul-f on September 11, 2013, 05:46:48 PM

Here is your table after clicking on the Preformatted text icon and adding a few strategic spaces.

Ok, yes.... I should have thunk so too, lol.   Just was in a hurry earlier...

Ok, changed to forum table format.... although I do like your fixed width font version better
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: WEBellSystemChristian on October 18, 2014, 11:41:38 AM
I thought I would revive this thread by showing off my current collection of soft 554s!


The first one is an all-dates-matching October 1956 Satin Switchhook model. It recently came to me covered in dark blue spray paint. I bought it on impulse a couple weeks ago because I thought the housing was Mediterranean Blue. It showed up with the paint covering tape residue, hair, and even dust  :-[ I decided I would get my money's worth by restoring it to original condition. I removed the paint with Easy Off oven cleaner (I didn't have any of my trusty Super Clean at the time), gave it a quick wetsanding, and then gave it a nice polish. Looks pretty nice now!
(Previous topic: http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=12756.msg133974#msg133974)

The next one is mostly dates-matching 1957, with a shiny chrome switchhook. Not much of a story with this one,  think I got it for free awhile ago. It polished up well, and makes a nice addition to my collection.

This all-1958 white 554 I'm very proud of, just because of the fantastic deal I got on it. I found it for $25 BiN last year, and I believe this one was never used. There is no fading of any kind on it, nor are there any wear marks. It was covered in mold when I received it, but it just needed to be cleaned off and polished!

The one after that is, again, dates-matching from 1958. This red one I received yesterday prompted me to show my 554s,  just because it's so nice looking! Like the white one, it needed a quick polish, and it looks pretty good!

The newest softie I have is a light grey that has a chassis date from 8-59, but has plastics ranging from 3-58 to 6-59. All of the plastics are light grey, but they were painted over because they were faded from Nicotine smoke. Also, someone notched a hole in the top right corner for a line cord exit. I really had the clean this one up, but it looks nice now!

I'm really proud of my 554 collection, and I hope I find some more nice ones in the future!
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: baldopeacock on October 18, 2014, 11:44:53 AM
Nice shine on those, Christian.   They look great.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: WEBellSystemChristian on October 18, 2014, 12:11:44 PM
Quote from: baldopeacock on October 18, 2014, 11:44:53 AM
Nice shine on those, Christian.   They look great.
Thanks! ;D
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on October 18, 2014, 02:41:39 PM
Christian, that's a great collection of 554s and you did a great job on the refinishing. Did you see the yellow 554 that sold recently for $60 plus shipping? It was from 3-57 and a great example. The picture is attached below for posterity. Not a terribly bad price for a fairly rare color, but not cheap either. Did anyone here get it? Looks like all it needed was an open center fingerwheel.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/371162764620 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/371162764620)

Do you have a good way to display all your 554s? They're not easy to display without being wall mounted. Mine are still leaning against a bottom shelf with their underside on the carpet. One day Dennis, I hope, will post a picture of his 554 display, if he hasn't already. As always with our collections and displays, it's a work in progress. I don't think any one of us on the Forum has all the 554 colors yet, so don't feel bad about it being incomplete.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on October 18, 2014, 03:17:07 PM
Christian, you have a great start on your soft plastic 554 collection!  That White one was a lucky find indeed.  That color eluded me for a long time.  I ended up paying way too much for one early on as a "place-keeper" until I found a nicer one.  I got lucky a year or so ago and found two, within a few weeks or so of each other on eBay.  Like yours, one appears to have never been mounted before.

Your Red one is also very nice.  Looks mint in the photo.  Light Gray is also a difficult color to find in these soft plastic models.  It's fun to try and get all the colors.  With patience, you will.  I am still looking for that elusive Dark Gray 554 (if anyone happens to have one they want to part with.........I didn't think so). 

I'm glad you added to this thread.  Not everyone collects the 554's so that leaves more for the rest of us!  Early on in this thread there is a photo of my 554's that I took some time ago.  I'll get an updated photo here later in the day.  Jonathan has posted photos of his collection here too.  A real nice group of phones, including Dark Gray.

Congrats on your collection.  You should be proud of them!

~Dennis
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: WEBellSystemChristian on October 18, 2014, 03:37:44 PM
Quote from: jsowers on October 18, 2014, 02:41:39 PM
Christian, that's a great collection of 554s and you did a great job on the refinishing. Did you see the yellow 554 that sold recently for $60 plus shipping? It was from 3-57 and a great example. The picture is attached below for posterity. Not a terribly bad price for a fairly rare color, but not cheap either. Did anyone here get it? Looks like all it needed was an open center fingerwheel.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/371162764620 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/371162764620)

Do you have a good way to display all your 554s? They're not easy to display without being wall mounted. Mine are still leaning against a bottom shelf with their underside on the carpet. One day Dennis, I hope, will post a picture of his 554 display, if he hasn't already. As always with our collections and displays, it's a work in progress. I don't think any one of us on the Forum has all the 554 colors yet, so don't feel bad about it being incomplete.
I tried to put a bid in on that for $21, but it went higher than I expected, and I bet it had a higher max bid that that!

I haven't yet, but I plan on building display "brackets", for the lack of a better term, that Unbeldi uses for his wall phones. This is what the ones he has look like:
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: WEBellSystemChristian on October 18, 2014, 04:00:25 PM
Quote from: Dennis Markham on October 18, 2014, 03:17:07 PM
Christian, you have a great start on your soft plastic 554 collection!  That White one was a lucky find indeed.  That color eluded me for a long time.  I ended up paying way too much for one early on as a "place-keeper" until I found a nicer one.  I got lucky a year or so ago and found two, within a few weeks or so of each other on eBay.  Like yours, one appears to have never been mounted before.

Your Red one is also very nice.  Looks mint in the photo.  Light Gray is also a difficult color to find in these soft plastic models.  It's fun to try and get all the colors.  With patience, you will.  I am still looking for that elusive Dark Gray 554 (if anyone happens to have one they want to part with.........I didn't think so). 

I'm glad you added to this thread.  Not everyone collects the 554's so that leaves more for the rest of us!  Early on in this thread there is a photo of my 554's that I took some time ago.  I'll get an updated photo here later in the day.  Jonathan has posted photos of his collection here too.  A real nice group of phones, including Dark Gray.

Congrats on your collection.  You should be proud of them!

~Dennis
Thanks! I didn't used to collect 554s, because they're just so hard to display. When I bought that white one, I decided that I wanted to start collecting them, but I'm limiting myself to only models before 1960.

In person, the white one is much more pristine, and looks true white. For whatever reason, the picture makes it look yellow, but when it's sitting on display, it's a much more intense white.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: WesternElectricBen on October 18, 2014, 06:45:09 PM
Very nice collection!

You can build those displays which turn out really nice, especially if you make it so a 500 set (in matching color) can sit on the wood base with the 554 hanging above. Or, another wall mount option is what I created, a french cleat wall phone display where the phones do not all screw into the plaster creating lots of holes, but the nicely finished wood. View topic:

Ben 
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Dennis Markham on October 18, 2014, 06:50:42 PM
Here's an update of an example of my 554's.  I have duplicates of some colors.  This set-up used to be a recessed book shelf built into the wall of my "office".  The phone on the bottom row, right hand side is a Kellogg from 1958.  It's holding the spot for the Dark Gray that I'm hoping will come along some day.

I was lucky enough to get a Mahogany Brown set.  I know Vern Potter has one in Mahogany.  Are there any other known Mahogany 554's out there?

These are all pre-1959 Tenite (soft plastic) sets.

~Dennis
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Kenton K on October 18, 2014, 07:26:57 PM
Holy Cow! That is really impressive!!!
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: WEBellSystemChristian on October 18, 2014, 11:34:25 PM
That is a very impressive display and colection, Dennis! Sadly, my room has a steeple style ceiling, where the walls come to a point. I only have about four and a half feet of 90 degree-angle walls, but space it taken up on one side of my room by my phone shelf and on the other side from my bed. That means I can't make a wall display with my 554s, just table-top stands.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: paul-f on May 21, 2016, 05:19:56 PM
We have heard that one of Don Genaro's early contributions to Bell System phone design was the addition of the creases on the top of the housing to provide an off-hook rest position for the handset.

Does anyone have a phone, photo or article showing a 554 without the creases -- either prototype or production?
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on May 21, 2016, 05:34:24 PM
Quote from: paul-f on May 21, 2016, 05:19:56 PM
We have heard that one of Don Genaro's early contributions to Bell System phone design was the addition of the creases on the top of the housing to provide an off-hook rest position for the handset.

Does anyone have a phone, photo or article showing a 554 without the creases -- either prototype or production?

The first issue BSP for these sets of 2/1955 already has them.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: paul-f on May 21, 2016, 05:59:47 PM
Thanks, Karl.

Is there a copy in the Library? The earliest I've found so far is dated 1958.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on May 21, 2016, 06:04:31 PM
I don't think the claim is possible.
The same article that states this, also states that he joined the firm in 1956.
This date is in agreement with the Wikipedia article that has him graduating from Pratt Institute in 1957, one year after he had started being a work study student with Dreyfuss.

If the date doesn't fit ...  you must find another culprit.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on May 21, 2016, 06:08:34 PM
Quote from: paul-f on May 21, 2016, 05:59:47 PM
Thanks, Karl.

Is there a copy in the Library? The earliest I've found so far is dated 1958.

I would have to search also.

PS:  hmm, perhaps document number 4743 ?
The file in my library has that index, attached:
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on May 21, 2016, 07:21:28 PM
Interestingly,  C32.560 i2 of November 1955 does not seem to show the ridge, but the view is not straight-on, at an angle upward.

C32.560 i2 1155--Telephone Sets; 554, 556, and 558 Types; Installation and Maintenance.


Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: paul-f on May 21, 2016, 11:59:48 PM
Thanks, Karl.

Both BSPs are in the Library.

The illustrations are artist's renderings. In issue 1 BSPs, the source model was often a field trial or nonworking engineering model, so don't always match the actual production sets. In this case, the creases in the housing shown in C32.559, issue 1, 2/55 strongly suggest they were present in the initial production runs.

In any case, a housing without the creases is something to watch for as we continue to work on the Date Ranges for WE Parts topic.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on May 22, 2016, 09:30:16 AM
Quote from: paul-f on May 21, 2016, 11:59:48 PM
Thanks, Karl.

Both BSPs are in the Library.

The illustrations are artist's renderings. In issue 1 BSPs, the source model was often a field trial or nonworking engineering model, so don't always match the actual production sets. In this case, the creases in the housing shown in C32.559, issue 1, 2/55 strongly suggest they were present in the initial production runs.

In any case, a housing without the creases is something to watch for as we continue to work on the Date Ranges for WE Parts topic.

Certainly, but we haven't even successfully spotted a 1954 edition of these, despite the 'announced announcement' by AT&T.

Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: Vern P on November 18, 2016, 07:46:59 PM
Reply to an old post.  Yes I have a DK. Brown and I know of at less 2 more. The DK. Gray in my collection is a Kellogg too. I know of a WE 2 line 554, in DK. Gray. I did make a play for it, but desided just to keep the Kellogg. 

I have been looking for a LT. Blue in soft, but never have found one. I have heard that they never did make LT. Blue 554. This is odd as there is a soft 500.  I was told that the 554 was not made until mid '60's.

Vern
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: unbeldi on November 18, 2016, 08:19:45 PM
Quote from: Vern P on November 18, 2016, 07:46:59 PM
Reply to an old post.  Yes I have a DK. Brown and I know of at less 2 more. The DK. Gray in my collection is a Kellogg too. I know of a WE 2 line 554, in DK. Gray. I did make a play for it, but desided just to keep the Kellogg. 

I have been looking for a LT. Blue in soft, but never have found one. I have heard that they never did make LT. Blue 554. This is odd as there is a soft 500.  I was told that the 554 was not made until mid '60's.

Vern

Aqua blue 554s were made starting in 1960, about a year after the transition from CAB to ABS plastics.

The colors dark gray, dark beige, dark blue, and brown were discontinued in 1957, as was done for the desk sets, and replaced with pastel colors.  But the aqua blue was delayed for some (unknown?) reason until 1960.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: jsowers on November 18, 2016, 09:25:03 PM
Here's a nice chart from the Southern Telephone News, a magazine issued by Southern Bell, with an article on the new colors for 1958. It's dated January, 1958 and the chart shows what model came in which color. No aqua blue 554s yet. As Karl said, they started about 1960. Note that they also didn't make 554s in pink initially, but then started later in 1958 and 59 in Tenite (soft) plastic.
Title: Re: Soft Plastic Model 554's
Post by: MMikeJBenN27 on December 30, 2020, 02:21:43 AM
I have a Rose Beige 554 Soft Plastic and a Yellow one, and of course, a Black one with a Black-painted cradle.  I have seen Aqua ones on E-Bay in the past.  They probably started in 59.