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Hideous Telephones

Started by Stephen Furley, August 04, 2009, 05:42:30 PM

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The GPO tags are a nice touch.  ::)


The GPO tags are the nicest thing about it, absolutely revolting.

"now this should take five minutes, where's me screwdriver went now..?"


I do wonder why they (the manufacturers over there in the People's Republic) think that the GPO would have supplied such monstrosities, when they never did, just as they never suppliedWE500 (or similar) phones that seem to be branded as Steepletone GPO phones.... ???

I think the worst phone I've seen in person was a wooden wall-phone, well thought out, and laid out as it should have been, but, they slapped a push-button dial on it, added some chromed parts, including the bells, had RJ10 handset cords on a cheap plastic looking earpiece, it just looked wrong.... :o

I wish I got a picture of it, but it was early November and I was busy packing up for moving house, so the brain was too mushy to think... :D


TwoCVbloke: just as well you didn't get a picture of it, your camera might have gone into shock. 

Bingster:   Yes that's the kind of thing I mean by "gaudy decorative nonsense" and it's a good thing we don't cuss on this board because I can think of a few other adjectives based on common 4-letter words.   Frankly downright sad, tragic even. 

I think the reason they all appropriate the GPO logos is because a) they're no longer an active trademark or copyright, and b) they suggest something high quality from the past.  Here in the US we see similar abuse of the Bell name. 

OTOH, has anyone seen any of the replicas produced by Conversation Pieces Ltd?  From their catalog pictures they appeared to be accurate enough to be acceptable (as in, replace the cords and dials with original material, and you can't tell the phone is a replica except on close inspection), and competently manufactured. 

There's also presently a replica of the 8746 (746 touchtone) presently being made, your choice of black or silver, that seems to be pretty competent.  It's basically the same as the red version on wheels that was produced for the car insurance advert some years ago, but minus the wheels and plus regular feet, and plus a dial number label holder.  Though of course I'd sooner have an actual 8746, if one would just turn up at a reasonable price from a seller who ships to the US. 


Quote from: GG on January 04, 2012, 12:03:43 AMThere's also presently a replica of the 8746 (746 touchtone) presently being made, your choice of black or silver, that seems to be pretty competent.  It's basically the same as the red version on wheels that was produced for the car insurance advert some years ago, but minus the wheels and plus regular feet, and plus a dial number label holder.  Though of course I'd sooner have an actual 8746, if one would just turn up at a reasonable price from a seller who ships to the US. 

The 8746 was the model number for BT-modified 746 rotary phones that had been converted to the modern BT PSTN setup and fitted with 4k ohm ringers, the Pulse-dial Pushbutton model was the 756 or 8756, and the DTMF Pushbutton model was the 782 or 8782... :)

The repro GPO phones I think are made by Geemarc, and look pretty accurate, the "Mayfair" is styled to look like the 746, but has pushbuttons in a ring like the original dial, with * and # in the dial centre, and there's also the "Park Lane" which is the 782 version, as you described... :)

And they also make some nice looking Trimphones, confusingly named Trimline by some sellers on ebay, but Trimphones never really interested me, so, I'm not after one...  :D


This one may be straying a bit off topic, but I saw this at Target today. I picked up the handset to look at it -- it weighs about the same as a paperclip. AND, there's a touchpad in it! Ugh.


Eeeek, that's the stuff of which nightmares are made.

And Bluetooth no less, for even worse audio, risk of eavesdropping at a larger distance than you would expect, and yet another battery to go dead at some point.

That particular Dreck-A-Phone doesn't even have the redeeming features of a poorly-executed 302 replica.  If extraterrestrials ever excavate our landfills for archaeology, they'll mark that one down as one of the signs of the tipping point into a new Dark Age. 


Speaking of replicas... Actually, this one's fairly accurate, so it may be inappropriate for this particular thread:


The colour is hideous, so, I'd say it counts...  :D


The color's not so bad, it's just odd for a D1.  If I'm not mistaken, our very own Kleenax made a phone for someone in that color.  Nice and sunny, good for kitchens or other rooms that are associated with bright daylight.   I'd be happy to see a Kleenax original of a WE 302 or AE 41 or GPO 332 in that color. 

Notice that the dial fingerstop resembles the one on a GPO dial.

And of course the obligatory 12-hole dial to accommodate the pesky * and #.

Someone here needs to bite the bullet and get one of those "fake rotary dial" phones just to see what kind of mechanism is in use there.  Is there a proper speed governor, or does it return with an immediate spin and a "thwack!" against the internal stop? 

In any case the overall shape of that one is pretty accurate for a D1 with F1 handset.  Thus better than a lot of the gaudy Dreck-A-Phones out there. 


I'd propose a rating system for these types of phones:

A:  Immediately recognizable as a replica of a specific type of historic phone.  Also should include well-thought-out imaginary designs that are "plausible" in terms of the design sensibilities of the relevant era, and are well-executed.  Crosley's versions of the 302 and 354 fit here, as do the better-quality 1970s Japanese desk stands, Telcer's 1980s replica AE 1A Monophone (with real rotary dial no less), and Pottery Barn's version of the Standard Electric European desk set.

B:  Similar enough to the real thing but with differences in shape.  Includes instances where the design elements of two or more phones of a given era are brought together in a manner that's not correct but is tolerable.  For example the replica WE 302 that used a handset similar to an AE 41 handset, and the one about a decade ago that looks like it was based on a Kellogg 1000 but has two buttons in the cradle and an odd rounded shape at the bottom of the sloped surface on the front.

C:  Poorly-designed replicas, where the shape is just wrong or exaggerated enough to look like the designer was slightly drunk on the job.

D:  Phones that claim to be retro designs but are implausible or impossible or just plain ugly.  This would include the Bluetooth handset monstrosity seen in a posting above.

F:  Phones that are basically like grade D above, but are festooned with Baroque or Victorian decorative complications that further compound the ugly factor.  Also includes phones that are truly horrid attempts at disguising them as something else, such as the "wine bottle & glass" in "candlestick" configuration.  The classic "phone-a-duck" fits in here but deserves a special place in history (and in H-ll) for being the example cited in the book _The Rape of Ma Bell_ as the tipping point to the Downfall.


You know, I missed that bluetooth handset on that thing above, I knew they sold the handsets on their own on ebay (wired & bluetoothed), I guess they just had to add a base to sit the phone in... :o

Could have at least pictured the kit with one of those rotary dial apps on the phone's screen though... :D


Egads, don't remind me. "Virtual" keypads on screens also get an F because they can't be used by people who are blind.  Totally flat and no tactile anything to help figure out where the digits are.  A.G. Bell himself, through his work with deaf people, started the industry on its road to universal accessibility, the Telephone Pioneers used to spend volunteer time building custom accessibility tech, and the "virtual" keypads are a complete derailment from that path. 

Greg G.

Gumball, shmumball... ( dead link 02-21-21 )

QuoteRare Vintage Gumball Machine Telephone sold by Nieman Marcus - $200 (Lake Forest Park)

Date: 2012-02-18, 1:19PM PST
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

This is a fun piece of Americana, purchased from the Nieman Marcus Gift Catalog in 1980.
It is a combination working telephone and working gumball machine, with a red metal frame
and body, and plastic sides.

The paint is a glossy red in excellent condition, the plexiglass sides are clear and unmarked,
and the phone is in great shape as well; original owner. Through the years I have seen this phone
offered occasionally on eBay, and only with the square push-button dial pad, instead of the
classic, round rotary dial plate of this phone.

Pennies are not needed to operate the phone, only to get the gumballs out (or any fill-item to 3/4" diameter)
The phone worked well for years, but for storage reasons, the wall jack cord was cut off,
and will need to be rewired. This is a simple job and we would be willing to help buyer do that, if needed.

This phone was manufactured by Paul Nelson Industries.
It measure 6- 1/2" square and 17" high; approximately 12 lbs
This is a really fun collectible. Please email if you have further questions.
The idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane.
- Mike Row


I think that gumball phone is pretty neat for what it is, though I'd hate to be on the other end of the phone when the person using it starts chewing on some of the gum they just took out of the machine..... :o


Here is another one. Absolutely hideous 500! On eBay right now! Get your bids in quick! ( dead link 02-21-21 )
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

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