Classic Rotary Phones Forum

Telephone Talk => Collector's Corner => Topic started by: 1954NE500 on June 22, 2010, 07:23:33 PM

Title: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: 1954NE500 on June 22, 2010, 07:23:33 PM
Hello, I'm new to these forums and I have been collecting Northern Electric/Northern Telecom 500-series phones in addition to a few other phones.
About 7 years back, in 2003, I picked up a 1958 Rose Beige Northern Electric 500 phone, dated 6/58. To my understanding Western Electric discontinued this color in 1957. Also, I do believe these phones were dated for 6 months after manufacture so that the customer thought he/she was getting a brand-new phone. This Rose Beige 500 is of the soft Tenite plastic and also has the swede feet. The original "soft"/open center plastic finger wheel is also intact on the dial. I have seem to notice that Rose Beige is also a very rare color the same as Mahogany Brown, Oxford Grey and Mediterranean Blue 500-series phones. I also have a 1958 Northern Electric moss green 500, all-original soft Tenite plastic, open-center plastic finger wheel and gray curly handset cord and grey line cord in addition to a black 1958 all-original Northern Electric 500, soft Tenite plastic Straight, yes, Straight handset cord, G1 handset, 4-prong plug(original brown 1958 plug) and thick line cord and last, but not least, a red 1958 Northern Electric 500 with yes, late 1958 neoprene triangular feet, open center plastic finger wheel and gray, thick line cord. Got several other rare Northern Electric 500s which also include 3 New-In-The-Box 1954 never-used Northern Electric 500's as well and a straight-cord very early 1954 Northern Electric 500-maybe one of the very first 500-series phones made in Canada by Northern Electric among the other 500-series phones and other phones I have.

                                                                    Cheers,
                                                                          Derek
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Jim Stettler on June 22, 2010, 07:42:05 PM
Welcome to the forum Derek,
It sounds like you have a nice collection of NE soft sets. You might as well pull out the camera now, because folks around here like to Ooh & Ahh over photos.

I don't think there are many soft NE set owners on the forum (till now).

Welcome,
Jim S.
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Dan/Panther on June 22, 2010, 07:46:41 PM
Derek;
Welcome to the phone forum.
You have a very nice collection, photos are always very welcome.
I have a very unusual straight handset cord, shown below. Most collectors have not seen one like it, can you check your NE to see if it might be Canadian made.,
D/P
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: 1954NE500 on June 22, 2010, 08:55:58 PM
Thanks for the awesome comments on my incredibly rare soft NE 500's as you almost never see them, even very rarely on eBay-Thanks:-)
I currently don't have a camera right now, when I get one in the future and get some good pictures of my soft NE 500's, I will post them. I also got a couple of soft NE 554s from 1957 and 1959, the 1959 soft 554 being pink with an open center plastic finger wheel as well. Regarding that unusual straight cord that's in the G1 bakelite receiver, I'll have to dig out my 1950's NE 500's sometime to see if this is indeed a Northern Electric cord. This cord could have also been made exclusively for the early 1949-54 Western Electric 500's with the early G1 handsets. I would preserve and treat that cord like gold as it's very rare and there could be other early 500-series collectors looking for such a cord for their 1949-54 500's. When the 5302's were first produced in about 1955, both straight and curly handset cords for the 500 series were changed for the way it was placed inside the G1, G3(colored 500-series) and GF(5302) handsets to one universal fit with made production of the handset cords a lot easier for Western Electric. This also eventually applied to WE line cords as well. This may indeed be a Northern Electric cord as well. I also do believe straight cords were also no longer made in late 1958 for all WE phones as well. Late 1958 was also when neoprene triangular feet were introduced on both NE and WE 500 phones in about late September or early October of 1958 as well. Also, another reason that all-original soft Northern Electric 500's and 554's from 1959 and earlier are just so hard to find is that Bell Canada owned every phone they leased until 1996-98 and often, the soft NE 500's and soft NE 554's were stripped of most of their original parts and refurbished even up to about 1991-92 as you could still lease a rotary phone from Bell Canada even in 1992-93 and very few early soft NE 500's and soft NE 554's survived intact making them a lot more rare than WE 500's and WE 554's. Bell officially stopped leasing out phones on Jan. 1, 1998, a lot later then in the US with AT&T/Bell System.
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Dan/Panther on June 22, 2010, 10:56:19 PM
1954NE500;
Check out this thread.

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=2394.0


I'm the lucky finder of the mentioned phone. The cord is currently residing on a 1951 501T that I restored. Here is a photo of both phones after being restored and in my display cabinet.


D/P
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: McHeath on June 22, 2010, 11:47:43 PM
Welcome to the forum.  I've got one NE 554, it was refurbed in 1998.  It's been refurbed a lot from it's original build date in the mid 60's.  I bought it because it has a wide black switch hook, which only the first year of WE 554s had in 1955. 

I'd be interested in seeing some of your very impressive phones.  When were subscribers allowed to buy their own phones and connect them to the lines in Canada?  Here in the US that started with the 1968 Carterphone decision. 
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: 1954NE500 on June 23, 2010, 03:05:01 AM
The 1951 501T that that cord is on is an early 1951 501T as I can tell by the dial bezel with the small "operator" text below the 0 and yes, this cord was indeed made for the very early 1949-53 500 sets. Also very thankful that you were able to save that 1948 500 prototype from destruction and fully restore it to it's original 1948 appearance as that phone maybe worth $5,000 to $10,000 US today due to it's very significant historical value and I have also observed only 1 true, complete 1949 WE 500 at a museum with a few 1949 500 parts known going through these forums. There's also a few 1950 500's with the smiley "operator" text below the 0 and these are extremely rare and I think only 3 or 4 are currently known to exist among collectors. We collectors also have to watch out for those demolition contractors who carelessly destroy historical phones as well as they trash them for scrap metal. On that topic, I saved a 1969 NE 500 here in North Bay from destruction from a house that's going to be demolished in addition to that very rare Rose Beige NE 500 from 1958 that was going to be trashed if I didn't get it for $1 either. In North Bay alone, Ive saved a good number of phones from being lost to history. I'll bet a very rare 1949 WE 500 means nothing to demolition contractors who just want the scrap metal and nothing's sacred to them at all. A big thanks to all the great phone clubs and collectors like us who always tend to stay 2 steps ahead of the scrappers to save these great phones-including many very rare prototypes from becoming scrap metal and scrap copper etc. I've heard of stories of the Bell System in the 1940's smashing up wooden phones from the early 20th century and even saw a very disturbing 1968-69 Western Electric commercial showing a backhoe loading up old 302's, early 500's and other vintage phones onto a machine to be crushed and recycled. I had nightmares of that 1969 Western Electric/Bell System commercial for a good number of weeks. I still can't watch the vintage program from 1969 it's on due to that commercial-I'm terrified of it.
I currently don't have a camera and once I get a camera in the future and figure it out, I will be able to get some pictures of my phones up.
In Canada, Bell Canada subscribers were able to start buying Northern Telecom "Imagination" series(same as WE Design Line) phones in about 1984-86 approx. and finally buy all Bell Canada phones to own after Feb. 12, 1996 by Jan. 1, 1998 when Bell Canada finally officially end the rental/lease program for good. The last phone my mom ever rented from Bell Canada was a Northern Telecom Vista 350 which she had replaced in the early 2000's and now owns outright. Even Northern Electric 302's and 354's are quite hard to find as well even though they show up occasionally on eBay. Northern Electric/Northern Telecom 564 and 2564 1A2 key sets are also very, very, hard to find due to Bell Canada owning these phones until the mid-1990's and if one of these NE/NT 1A2 key sets are found, they're a real collector's item.
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Dan on June 23, 2010, 06:12:36 AM
Welcome to the forum!!

It is not hard to post pictures here, believe me, I am "ignorant" of many modern things like digital pics and other things, but you have some real smart guys (and gals) on here that can help.

Norhtern E's are not seen as often here in the USA. We all would love to see pics when you can get them posted.

The oddest NE trivia I can think of is they used six hole ear caps , while everyone else switched to seven holes when the switch was made from soft tenite to hard plastic.
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: jsowers on June 23, 2010, 07:57:16 AM
Derek, thanks for all the history behind the soft plastic NE phones. As you've said, they're quite rare. I've seen very few of them and always wondered if NE changed later than WE on most things. Funny that the Neoprene feet changed about the same time. With WE it was late August, 1958. I've seen a Bell System bill insert from 8-58 stating that fact, and since I was born in that month, I have several phones that bear that out. See the picture below of the base date of my black 500U from 8-58. The housing on this phone was made on 8-21-58, the day after I was born.

I think you're correct about straight handset cords not being installed in 1958. From what I can tell, the change was made to coiled handset cords being standard here about 1957. I've seen original straight cords on WE phones from late 1956, and the post-1956 straight cords seem to be very thin replacement cords. I'm not sure about NE, though. The NE moss green with gray cords you mentioned would be unusual here for 1958 since by then green came with matching green cords on WE phones.

Your rose beige NE 500--does it have the white numbers and letters on the dial? I didn't know NE made that color that late. Did NE make dark blue soft plastic phones? I've never seen one. I do have an NE annual report from 1958 with red and green soft plastic phones in it, so I knew they made some (see picture below). Your explanation about the tight hold they had on them explains a lot. My local telco had a tight hold on their leased AE phones and as a result, I don't see many old ones around here.

As far as dates on NE phones being 6 months late, I never saw much dating going on with NE phones, but I haven't seen the older models. It would be interesting to see the date stamps on your phones. You don't need a fancy camera. There's a thread on the forum all about cameras that might provide some useful information

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=1799.0 (http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=1799.0)

Welcome to the Forum! And thanks again for your comments on the NE phones.
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: McHeath on June 23, 2010, 11:02:37 AM
Quote
The oddest NE trivia I can think of is they used six hole ear caps , while everyone else switched to seven holes when the switch was made from soft tenite to hard plastic.

Curiously I was given an ITT 500 for father's day that does not follow this rule.  It's dated 8/77, is brown, hardwired, and has no center holes in either handset cap.  All the parts that are dated match, and it does not appear to have ever been refurbed. 

My NE 554 has no center holes in the caps either, it was refurbed in 98'.

Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Jester on June 23, 2010, 11:51:01 AM
Welcome to the forum, Derek!  Your collection sounds like something that borders on amazing.  I became acquainted with Northern Electric early on in my fleamarket rounds when I stumbled on a burled walnut uniphone about forty miles from home.  I couldn't afford that one, but have since picked up what I could find that was NE.  I have kept my eyes open for tenite 500's, but, as you have stated, they don't show up often.  I did manage to pick up a nice red NE 500 last year, and it did show signs of parts replacement.  I don't think it was refurbed, since the handset cord was date matched to the rest of the base.  More like a tech. replaced a few parts on site during a "house call".

I look forward to seeing pictures of your collection.  Were the colored sets all found in your local area?  And, how big an area is that?
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Kenny C on June 23, 2010, 12:12:16 PM
Is NE basicly the same as WE all of the phones look the same
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: jsowers on June 23, 2010, 12:53:08 PM
Is NE basicly the same as WE all of the phones look the same

Unlike Jester's nice red 500, the later NE 500 sets don't have the word "Operator" at the zero. Just a zero. I assume that's because of the French-speaking Canadians or just so they would be neutral to any language.

NE phones do look very similar to their WE brethren, but they're enough different for all of us phone nuts to wonder why they did what they did. For example, NE made a Princess phone called the Contessa and they put the 10-button touchpad in a different faceplate with the phone number area divided into two places. See the phone below, which isn't mine and isn't rotary (sorry), but it is NE and unusual. Note that it doesn't have any letters on the "0" button. This is also the only one I recall seeing with the area code on the left and the phone number on the right, so the divided areas made sense.
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Jester on June 23, 2010, 02:41:57 PM
Excellent points on the Contessa, Jonathan.  I've often wondered if NE didn't cast that faceplate so they could use a modified rotary cover & avoid the expense of making a completely new casting.  It seems it would be easier to make a hole in an existing mold larger & even a different shape, then fill it with the seperate faceplate.  I have an example in light beige, and it's interesting to note the differences in it compared to the 1702.  Besides the omission of "operator" over the 0 & the two windows for the number, these sets also had a circuitboard network--not the potted style used in the states.

Derek,
You mentioned having a few colors of soft 554's.  Bell System offered this set in all colors available through 1957, so examples in the discontinued colors can be found.  Have you seen or heard of NE 554's in Oxford Gray, Mahogany Brown, Rose Beige or Mediterranean Blue?
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: 1954NE500 on June 23, 2010, 10:05:59 PM
I'll have to get a digital camera in the next little while and sure, once I get a camera, I would like some tips on how to post pictures, thanks. Once I get that camera and get some good pics of my soft NE 500's including inside shots and a pic of the Northern Electric markings as well.
Six hole ear caps were always used on Northern Electric/Northern Telecom 500, 1500(10-button Touch Tone) and 2500-series phones and any NE/NT phone that used a G-Type handset all the way up to when they were no longer made in Canada. ITT used seven-hole ear caps and yes, the odd six-hole ear cap did show up on a Canadian-made ITT phone as well.
NE soft plastic phones are indeed very rare, even in Canada.
Yes, Northern Electric was a little behind Western Electric on changing/updating parts on their 500/1500 and 2500-series phones with NE 302s being active on the Bell Canada network later than in the US, Straight cords used on both NE 300-series and NE-500 series phones in black up until late 1958, gray cords on some NE colored 500's up until 1958, swede feet on both NE 300-series phones and NE 500-series phones until Sept, 1958, NE 1500 phones were a lot like the WE prototype 1500 phones and even the very first NE 2500's looked a bit like the WE 1500 prototypes as well-also some NE 1500s looked like same as WE 1500's as well. In 1968, Northern Electric introduced the Contempra phone instead of the Trimline, NE Contessas looked like the WE princess phones except there was no "operator" text on NE rotary Contessas after 1965 and NE 10-button Contessas looked exactly like the pink NE Contessa we see here. Both the standard 12-button NE Contessa and WE Princess were identical.
All Northern Electric/Northern Telecom 500 and 2500 series phones were hardwired all the way through with a grey modular line cord hardwired into the phone introduced in 1976-77. Modular Backplates also became available for NE/NT 554's/2554's in about 1977 as well Northern Electric/Northern Telecom phones were dated since the 1920's or 1930's.
On the 1957 soft Northern Electric red 500 seen here, the dial bezel and line cord look to have been replaced during the service life of this phone when it was leased by Bell. The handset cord is a 1957-58 "fatboy" curly cord in the color of the phone.
NE phones were pretty much basically the same with a few differences starting to be really noticeable after 1965. It was in late 1965 that NE 500 and Contessa phones did not have the word "operator" due to both French and English being the official languages of Canada and this made it a lot easier than  trying to have "operator" in both languages. The plain "0" on NE/NT phones is indeed neutral to both official languages of Canada.
The reason for a different faceplate on NE 10-button Contessa phones is that by 1964-65, Northern Electric was no longer part of Western Electric and NE was making their phones more identifiable from the Western Electric phones.
This 10-button NE Contessa seen here dated between late 1967 to 1969 approx. Northern Electric did make 10-button Contessa phones until 1969-70 as I got 3 of these NE 10-Button Contessa phones in white from 1969-70.
For the soft NE 554's, I haven't seen any in Oxford Gray, Mahogany Brown or Mediterranean Blue, but since I have a 1958 NE Rose Beige 500, I think Northern Electric may have also made Rose Beige 554's, although very, very, very rare and only a very small handful like the 500's.
I also have Northern Electric soft Tenite 500's in both red and green-the Christmas colors:-)

Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: Dan/Panther on June 24, 2010, 12:30:37 AM
Derek, thanks for all the history behind the soft plastic NE phones. As you've said, they're quite rare. I've seen very few of them and always wondered if NE changed later than WE on most things. Funny that the Neoprene feet changed about the same time. With WE it was late August, 1958. I've seen a Bell System bill insert from 8-58 stating that fact, and since I was born in that month, I have several phones that bear that out. See the picture below of the base date of my black 500U from 8-58. The housing on this phone was made on 8-21-58, the day after I was born.



Jonathan;
Here is a shot of my 8-58 C/D 500 with the leather feet.
D/P
Title: Re: 1958 Northern Electric Rose Beige 500, other rare NE 500's I have as well
Post by: 1954NE500 on June 24, 2010, 02:41:55 AM
I believe the reason for the switch from swede/leather feet to neoprene feet in late 8/58 on WE/NE 500's, WE 5302's and refurbished NE 302's was that neoprene feet had a better grip that the swede/leather feet and neoprene feet were a lot easier to produce in mass quantities as well. In July, 1959, we would kiss Tenite 500's and 554's goodbye as they gave way to ABS plastics for the 500's and 554's as well. Open-center plastic finger wheels for colored 500's and 554's would be gone by late 1965 and replaced by the now more modern closed-center plastic finger wheels as well. I would pretty much put the end of the Golden Age Of The 500/554 phones in late 1965 or early 1966 myself from my observations.