Author Topic: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50  (Read 8269 times)

unbeldi

  • Guest
1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« on: March 28, 2015, 10:42:36 PM »
The find:   Western Electric 302GR thermoplastic telephone in the color ivory with dash code 50.  This is not a regular 302 !

Base: 12-49-I, refurbishing ink stamps: 453, 355
  Feet: leather, fair, worn condition, one with KS-8035 pad
Housing: H-1 (red ink), 1 3 55 3 (yellow ink), distinctive smell of Tenite Butyrate, identical color to 500 sets
 Plungers: Solid clear plastic
Handset: F1 (type 10) 429 (small,elevated), 107 (Oct1947); painted ivory; 222 g with screws and contacts.
  Cord: 4-0 H3P I 55
Dial: 6D 2-55
  finger stop: 6
  Face plate: III ::54 164A
  Finger wheel: Lucite open center
  Dial center: open, with card backing, missing window and card,
  Dial adapter: 59B
Induction coil: 101A IV 49 I
Condenser: 195A IV 49
Line cord: D3AK IV 54
Ringer: B1A 12-49-I

« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 08:49:08 AM by unbeldi »

Offline Kenton K

  • **
  • Posts: 925
  • Kenton "Clickty Clack"
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2015, 10:43:43 PM »
Oh, I was second high bidder! I noticed it was soft plastic, and not the usual 302 ivory.

Glad a forum member got it.
kk

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—302 color and recycling history
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2015, 10:47:04 PM »
Some background and history:
In 1954, the 302/304 telephone sets were largely retired from new manufacturing at Western Electric.  The 354 wall phones were made a year longer, until the end of 1955 in black and ivory, when the 554 became available in larger volumes, having been introducedannounced first in 1954.

The replacement of the 300-series telephones with the 500-series telephones, and the publicity and marketing of the new sets, resulted in increasing returns of the older sets from the field, creating stock piles of parts that had not been in service for the entire design lifetime.

At the same time the demand for telephone sets in color was increasing. According to a 1949 BLR news item, color production of the 302 telephones after WWII was resumed in 1949, and the five colors of the Tenite plastic 302s, ivory–4, old-rose–16, dark blue–18, gray green–19, and pekin red–20, are well known and desired by collectors. (see left side of this 1949 illustration).

WECo also accepted special orders though, for the four painted finishes in metallic hues on zinc-alloy housings, colors that had been standard since the late 1920s on handset telephones. However, these were finished in the distribution work shops, not at the factories. Metal housings had not been manufactured anymore in years (1946?).

In 1955, the Bell System sought to reduce the stock pile of good, but obsolete parts by creating a variety of products that reused this supply. The most notable perhaps was the creation of the 5300 series sets with the models 5302, 5304, 5306, and 5410, starting in the fall of 1955. This campaign lasted for close to 10 years. It reused only the base plates with electrical components and the handsets, of 302, 304, 306, and 410 telephone sets refurbished these with newly made housings that resembled the 500-series sets.  The vast majority of them were black, but some color sets in the pastel colors of 1957 have been found.

But previously and concurrently, the Bell System Practices also document two other efforts, the re-issuance of 202 handset telephones (Continental and Imperial lines) and a line of two-tone 302s, presumably much alike the 500-series two-tones.  These two-tone 302 were created by replacing the black housings with colored housings molded with the Tenite Butyrate plastic of the 500-series sets.  This type of plastic is slightly different than the original Tenite used in the 302 plastic sets, and is usually distinguished by its characteristic smell of butyric acid (rancid butter or cheese).

In this forum discussion a member presented a red set that may have been one of those two-tone sets. However, the BSPs don't specify exactly the features of these sets, and the presented telephone has a funny mixture of black caps on a red handset. These sets are found extremely rarely, if at all.

What is actually found are 302-type sets in full color, but using the 500-set plastic for the housing, while using a grooved black Bakelite handset painted in matching color. These sets use a 5J or 6D dial, just like the standard 302 plastic sets in color that had been discontinued in 1954.  I have only found a very few of these documented here in the Forum. They have been found in ivory–50, green–51, red–53, and there is some discussion that someone found a rose beige–55 set. Some have called them the rarest 302 colors.

It is not known whether these full-color 302 sets were part of an official program, a marketing experiment, or were simply in fulfillment of special orders. They are not documented in any of the available BSPs.  However, I have not found an exception to the rule that they are all assembled in 1955, based on observed component dates. It appears therefore, that this was one of the many color 'experiments' conducted that year. The green phone on the right is a 302GR-51 discussed in this forum topic.

This discussion shows two red sets, a 302GR-53 and a 304GR-53, that were molded on the same day in 1955.


This brings us back to the current find: an ivory 302GR that is made from the Tenite Butyrate plastic of the 500 series. The ivory color of the 500-series is distinctively darker, richer than the ivory plastic (Tenite Acetate or Tenite Propionate) used in the standard colors of the 300-series.

tbc...
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 10:14:57 AM by unbeldi »

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2015, 11:20:21 PM »
This telephone was assembled in March 1955, which is evidenced by the refurbishing stamp (355) on the base plate. The base plate of the phone with ringer, condenser, and induction coils was recycled from a telephone made in December 1949 (12-49–I). Previously, it had also been refurbished in 1953 (453), but there are no components in the phone from that year. All other components of the handset mounting, i.e. housing, dial, and cords are dated just before the March 55 assembly date (see data table in first post).  The handset is a 1947 black Bakelite unit, that was painted in an ivory finish.  However, the handset finish is lighter than the housing color, and is very much the same as the ivory color observed on 202 Continental sets, also made in 1955. In the following picture I am showing a color comparison between several WECo ivory sets.

The housing was quite dirty and stained and had yellowed quite a bit.  This could be partially due to a smoking environment with nicotine.  The housing exhibited a heavy smell that could be consistent with smoke.  I cleaned the housing and wet-sanded it with ca. 1000 grit paper to remove surface stains and discoloration to achieve a first cleaning.  The housing still smells strongly as is well known from the 500 sets and there cannot be any doubt that it is Tenite Butyrate.

After cleaning it was also obvious that the color of the housing was identical to the color of the ivory 500 telephones of the 1950s. One 500-sample is shown in the center of this picture, and that comes very close to the color of this 302 shell. Color comparisons are difficult unless performed in the same exposure.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 04:03:11 PM by unbeldi »

Offline jsowers

  • **
  • Posts: 2066
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—302 color and recycling history
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2015, 11:24:18 PM »
The 354 wall phones were made a year longer, until the end of 1955 in black and ivory, when the 554 became available in larger volumes, having been introduced first in 1954.

Funny how the earliest examples of the 554 we've seen are all from mid-1955. I think you're a year off and the reason the 354 was made into 1955 is because that's the year the 554 was introduced, first in black (with a black switchhook)and then in ivory (chrome switchhook). If you have a 554 with 1954 dates on the chassis and plastics, I would love to see it.
 
Here's a thread from 2009 about early 554s. May of 1955 seems to be the earliest date anyone has found so far.
 
http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=1161.0
Jonathan

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—302 color and recycling history
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2015, 11:36:20 PM »
The 354 wall phones were made a year longer, until the end of 1955 in black and ivory, when the 554 became available in larger volumes, having been introduced first in 1954.

Funny how the earliest examples of the 554 we've seen are all from mid-1955. I think you're a year off and the reason the 354 was made into 1955 is because that's the year the 554 was introduced, first in black (with a black switchhook)and then in ivory (chrome switchhook). If you have a 554 with 1954 dates on the chassis and plastics, I would love to see it.
 
Here's a thread from 2009 about early 554s. May of 1955 seems to be the earliest date anyone has found so far.
 
http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=1161.0

Well, I am using the Nov 5, 1954 AT&T announcement of the wall sets as the reference.  It may well be that actual installations commenced in 1955, but a friend has told me he has a 1954 dated set.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2015, 11:39:35 PM by unbeldi »

Offline TelePlay

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 7762
    • . . . times keep changin'
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2015, 07:43:37 AM »

Offline Doug Rose

  • ***
  • Posts: 9323
  • Blondie & the Kid of Phone
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2015, 08:09:42 AM »
Karl...that is a real nice find. I have been interested in the soft plastic 302s for a long time. Not much information out there about them. I have owned three of them, the Green and the Ivory looked almost identical to the thermoplastic versions, except for the painted black F1.

The one I kept is the Blood Red 302. It is the color of the 55 500s sets and not the Orange Red of the thermoplastics. A really dramatic difference. They do seem to be more susceptible to shrinkage than the thermoplastics as both my Ivory and Green had tiny corner cracks. The red has, so far stayed the course with no cracks.

I do think these are the rarest of the 302s, there is rumor of a Blue but I have never seen one.

Again...really nice find....Doug
Kidphone

Offline Dennis Markham

  • VintageRotaryPhones.com
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5626
    • VintageRotaryPhones.com
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2015, 08:58:06 AM »
Karl, that is a very nice find and nicely refurbished.  Also, I enjoyed reading your article about the progression of these 302's.

Regarding the early 554, it would be great if your friend would share a photo or two his/her early 1954 model.

Great thread.

~Dennis

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2015, 09:24:48 AM »
Karl, that is a very nice find and nicely refurbished.  Also, I enjoyed reading your article about the progression of these 302's.

Regarding the early 554, it would be great if your friend would share a photo or two his/her early 1954 model.

Great thread.

~Dennis
Thanks, Dennis.  Yes, I agree about a photo, I was quite curious myself when the subject came up, and if there wasn't the printed record of Nov 5, 1954 I wouldn't even have mentioned it.

As for refurbishment, all I did so far was clean the shell a little, and recoil the HS cord.  It is still in fairly raw state, not all of the discoloration is removed.  I just wanted to get something worthwhile taking pictures of.  This shell does have two cracks. I expect to repair them invisibly. They are not due to shrinkage, despite being corner cracks.  The main reason I acquired it was to get a personal opinion about the story of plastic use and history.  I'll have more on that in another post.

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2015, 09:42:42 AM »
Karl...that is a real nice find. I have been interested in the soft plastic 302s for a long time. Not much information out there about them. I have owned three of them, the Green and the Ivory looked almost identical to the thermoplastic versions, except for the painted black F1.

The one I kept is the Blood Red 302. It is the color of the 55 500s sets and not the Orange Red of the thermoplastics. A really dramatic difference. They do seem to be more susceptible to shrinkage than the thermoplastics as both my Ivory and Green had tiny corner cracks. The red has, so far stayed the course with no cracks.

I do think these are the rarest of the 302s, there is rumor of a Blue but I have never seen one.

Again...really nice find....Doug
Thanks.

I do have to disagree about shrinkage though.

This shell has two corner cracks, but they are not due to shrinkage and I do not believe that any of the Tenite Butyrate housings, either on the 302 sets, or on the 500 sets, show this problem.  I have never seen significant shrinkage on a 500 set. Since the plastic is the same, the 302s should not crack from shrinkage either and this shell fits easily onto the base.

I do think that it is the structure of the 302 corners that is the primary reason for breakage. Sharp corners do not distribute stress much.  In the 500 set the corners are much more rounded, thereby distributing any directional impact over a larger area.

To some degree, almost all plastics, especially thermoplasts, but also thermosets potentially, shrink over time, but it is usually not of practical significance, as much as it is for the cellulose acetates, and perhaps the propionates.  The difference in properties between acetates and propionates is much less clear to me, and I suspect that Western Electric must have experimented with both in production. For example, it appears to me that not all of the 500-set pre-ABS plastics of the 1950s are the same.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 11:25:46 AM by unbeldi »

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2015, 07:13:53 PM »
In this discussion a member showed a 302GR-50 for sale at the time (right). He argued that the housing is beige, but I do believe this was a mistaken identification. Other contributors to that thread also decided differently. When comparing it to the standard ivory-4 of the other 302s, there is indeed a notable difference which could lead someone to such an identification when not considering further context. The –50 variety of the 500 sets is markedly darker, as can be seen from my previous ivory comparison of several WECo telephones.

Doug Rose argued that these special 302 sets were only made in ivory–50, green–51, and red–53.  This appears highly plausible as ivory (–4), green (–19), and red (–20) were the colors officially available, per BSP Section Addendum C32.111 i2 5503, for the Continental 202 telephones of the same year. However, the Continental colors were the traditional colors as indicated by the dash code. The red and green varieties between the two series are very similar, and this would have meant that the painted F1 handsets could be used on both product lines. It also explains subtle discrepancies reported between the green and red housings with their respective handsets, and the difference of the ivory handset color in my phone with the shell. It still harmonizes well.

The ivory hue of the ivory Continental was indeed different, lighter, perhaps in the middle somewhere between 302-ivory-4 and 500-ivory-50. My 302-handset is identical in saturation and hue to the handset on my ivory 202 Continental. 

All this brings up and interesting broader topic about the spectrum of WECo ivory colors. We had some discussions about the ivory color used by WECo over the years.

t/b/c

Dan/Panther's 2010 302GR-50. In this picture the corner area is highlighted indicating the lack of the key hole structure, which is present in my find. Clearly WECo used multiple molds to make these sets.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 09:27:23 AM by unbeldi »

Offline poplar1

  • ***
  • Posts: 6560
  • 1051-AL
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2015, 12:01:27 AM »
Addendum C32.502, Issue 2, March, 1955 (AT&T Std.), shows 500-series colors for 302s, but only  as two-tone sets. The same information is included in  Issue 8 of C32.502, October 1955.
"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 03:43:57 PM »
Addendum C32.502, Issue 2, March, 1955 (AT&T Std.), shows 500-series colors for 302s, but only  as two-tone sets. The same information is included in  Issue 8 of C32.502, October 1955.

I have been wondering whether a single one of these two-tone sets was ever installed.  The single case I cited isn't very convincing.  One would think that something that is actually documented could be found more frequently than something that is not.

A two-tone 302 could not be as easily replicated later by swapping housings, as is the case for the 500-sets. Someone actually has to have a 5X-code plastic H1 housing.

PS:  The July 1957 BSP C38.015 i1, Station Sets—Magneto; Selection for General Use also shows the 500-series colors as available for the 307A telephone.  Never have I seen one, but I have seen a 1956 (IIRC) black one.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 08:02:20 PM by unbeldi »

unbeldi

  • Guest
Re: 1955 Ivory 302—A rare breed: 302GR-50
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2015, 05:43:09 PM »
Here are some more pictorial details of this phone:

Oddly, the telephones plungers are solid, like one often finds on Northern Electric equipment.

The dial adapter is not a 59A, but a 59B.  I thought 59B adapters were supposed to be used only on the No. 44 dial mounts for switch boards.  But upon some research, I discovered that Northern Electric also used them for telephones with No. 5 and 6 dials, although the card catalog specifies otherwise.

The H1 mounting stamp also seems a bit  Northern to me.  Didn't Northern Electric use orange stamps like this with a narrower font than WECo did?  OTOH, the housing date stamp is typically WECo style in yellow.

These details raised the question of whether the phone was built in Canada.  However, upon asking, the seller told me that this phone came from his uncle who was a telephone installer in northern Indiana and who acquired a few phones on his rounds.

All the indications are that this phone was indeed assembled in March 1955.  The methods used to connect and route the line and handset cords is exactly as it was done by Western Electric, as can be seen in the picture of the telephone internals.  I have no doubt about the 'authenticity' and date of the set.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 09:25:10 AM by unbeldi »