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Thoughts on the Belgian RTT56B phone

Started by migette, April 22, 2011, 10:06:42 AM

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Been meaning to write something about these phones, they are not rare here in UK and Europe and are often seen on eBay. They were manufactured in the 60's and may have started in 1956 as the no is rtt56, rtt refers to the Belgian telecom and posts (ptt). I know Germany often numbered phone types by the year for example W48 set. The maker was Belgium Bell and the name was seen on the sides of the instrument as a transfer. I think the correct handset would be the WE  F1  lookalike same as the Lucy Phone and also the Belgium equivalent which came out  earlier also by Bell. My pics show 2 examples, one which has been copper plated or dipped, these I believe were for the US market when these were discontinued in Belgium and the other is green. having seen both I wonder whether AE were involved in making these also as looking at the photos two dials were used. They had separate fixing drillings and one is of AE type the other is not (welcome comments as to type) both dials are different in depth but when either is fitted to their respective position they make a perfect fit. Looking at the capacitors one is Bell made and the other ATE. As these were sold in the past by companies supplying vintage phones it seems likely that sometime different h/sets were used and the copper phone shows one by Ericcson, both types and another one is often shown on these. In conclusion I would like to say that I first saw these in use on a camping trip in the 60's to Belgium and liked the idea of the brass carry handle, they would also always have the earth (grounding) button available for shared service or supervisory purposes, in these cases these contacts have been maladjusted so they don't make when the buttons pushed in, this is easily fixed to work again. Lastly I would also like to say these were made like the proverbial battleship and indestructible. A good phone for any collection.

Russ Kirk

I have a brass one like your photo, except some yahoo took off the front logo plate.  Thanks for the history,  I now know what the use was of that little white button.

My phone has a brown copper patina,  I was wondering if I should polish it,  or keep it the way I found it.    I have eliminated so much brass in my home because of the constant need  to polish.

- Russ Kirk


Thanks for the pics Migette, I haven't seen a green one before. I had a copper wall version but sold it. I still have the black wall version. The wall phone has two components, a dial shroud with cradle mounted onto a bell box. The dial shroud, painted or not is made of copper (nonmagnetic). I did not know that my black one was painted copper until I got the copper one and then checked my black one with a magnet. Bell Telephone Mfg. was a Western Electric manufacturing company set up in Antwerp, Belgium to serve Europe. ITT bought it out around 1925 after they came to an agreement that they would not do business in the U.S. if AT&T would stay out of the rest of the world. I'm not sure of the details that made ITT change their mind about doing business in the U.S. later on. It is hard for me to see inside the phone where the dial is but it is not an AE dial.
Doug Pav


Once had an ATEA one .Had a large push button below the dial. Had a wartime date. The Bakelite parts were brown not black along with the paint. It might not have had the handle.


Re. Miguette's phones:

The first dial shown looks like Elektrisk Bureau, Oslo Norway; if that phone (the green one) has an Ericsson handset, that's convergent (EB was an Ericsson affiliate). 

ATE = Automatic Telephone & Electric, Antwerp; or similar name; basically Belgian Automatic Electric.  The second dial shown is Belgian AE.  The handset on the copper-colored phone looks like a French handset from a French PTT type 330 or 332 (no relation to GPO 332), the standard French phone of the 50s - early 60s. 


Re. Wallphones' wallphones:

Nice GEC Muraphone you've got there (on the left).

The one on the right looks like Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company, or one of the Standard Electric (ITT) companies in Europe.  The dial on that one looks like the ITT Standard Electric variant of the Electrisk Bureau Oslo Norway dial (the "wait for dial tone" label is definitely not original to that phone).  The handset on that one is Belgian. 

Miguette, the handset referred to above is a type often found on those RTT phones.

The little hook at the bottom of the phone was originally used for a watchcase receiver ("mother-in-law receiver"). 


I'm skeptical that "copper" was an original color, or at least was anywhere near as common as these appear to be now.  I think it was more likely that the phones were black as they were everywhere else, and that the copper ones were the result of stripping the paint, just as some folks today do with metal WE 302s.

The carrying handle is basically a confession by the manufacturer that, yes, the phone is as heavy as a sack of cement.   That or in countries without something like our 2nd Amendment, it's a workaround by the telco to provide people with something they can use as a weapon in the event of a home invasion robbery : - )


Hi thanks for all replies, these only add to the interest and help. Did this 'Kettle Phone' have an early version without the carry handle and subtle difference to the casting seen on the side where the handset rests, any comments would be welcome    Peter


Note these were built by at least 2 companies (ATEA and Bell Telephone mfg co).The handsets, dials and castings were different.Some refurbisher has put Bell decals on ATEA sets.The 1940s set I had had no handle.


Re: The dial design.

The first dial as GG says looks like the Elekrisk Bureau dial.
The mechanism of this dial has been like that on all ordinary telephones used by the Telegrafverket/Televerket/Telenor rotaries from about 1920.
E.g. Oslo telephone district used their own model (steel box) from 1936 to 1953. The telephone was made by Elektrisk Bureau, but the dials was made by Standard telefon og kabelfabrikk (Later ITT). The last rotary model made by Elektrisk bureau from 1967 to 1980 (82) had the same mechanism.

It is very simple, and reliable.



Hi  Rdelius your comments have confirmed my thoughts about early versions, I know various handsets were used, and that lots of mixing makes took place, also the coppered ones were produced for the US market but are still found in Europe,mine had the ATEA dial AE.

Hi d_s_k  the dial is the same as my white reverse dial on the televerket, that was the green RTT phone with a correct handset. Thanks again for all this extra info.

Greg G.

I like the ones that have the ornate design on them.  There's one in a shop near me, but at $145 it's too rich for my blood.
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Matilo Telephones

I have some of these lying around. I´m not going to restore them so you can have one for what I payed for it (20 euro) and shipping.


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