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Color 5302s

Started by Dennis Markham, June 11, 2009, 12:09:36 AM

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Dennis Markham

Of the telephones that I have collected it was the soft plastic 500's and 554's that got me hooked.  Like many people I have tried to get a soft plastic set in each of the original 8 colors and all of the soft plastic colors.  I have found that the 554's are the most difficult to find.  I've done pretty well but still need a few of the more difficult colors.

My friend Mark Scola (who I've mentioned before that does plastic repair) has been looking for a Mahogany 500.  He knew I had one because I got it from him a few years ago.  He knew I picked up another one a while ago.........

..........and started asking me if I'd like to trade for the one he originally owned that has been sitting on my shelf.  He knew I was collecting the soft plastic 554's and what colors I need to complete my collection.  We talked about a Rose Beige 554 which he said he had and would trade to me for the Mahogany 500.  The 500 has a tiny corner crack that he repaired years ago.  He said he would "sweeten" the deal but wasn't specific.

Today he showed up at my door with a couple of phones in his arms.  A Rose Beige 554 from 5/1957 and a white 5302G.  The white 5302G was the item he chose to sweeten the pot.  We've all seen the black 5302's but finding one in color is difficult and expensive.  This one has "some issues" but overall is a nice phone.  There is some repaired damage and it's got some yellowing (a good candidate for the peroxide) but looks good on the shelf.  I consummated the deal.  In addition to the Mahogany 500 Mark was looking for a nice beige 500 case...hard or soft.  I happened to have a nice 1959 model and gave him the whole phone.  So I gave up a Mahogany 500 from 1955 with a tiny crack on one corner along with a hard plastic beige 500 from 1959.  In return I got a puzzle piece for my 554 collection and a bonus colored 5302.  Attached are a couple of photos.

So the moral of the story (too late to make a long-story short) is that often you can get something you need by trading with another collector.  Like in baseball, or other sports, you have to give up something good to get something good.  I hope to do some work on the 5302 but the Rose Beige 554 needs very little work.  The handset is a little darker than the body but I think that is from oils from the hands, not darkening from sunlight.  Secondly, once you focus on collecting something it's OK to get one with imperfections until a better one comes along.  The 5302 isn't perfect but you don't see a lot of them in color....and when you do be prepared to pay big bucks.  The 302 base of this phone is from 1949.  The plastic housing is dated 9-1959.  The handset and elements from 1960 and the cords from 1960.  So that was about the time some of these 5302's were being put out there to meet the demand for the 500 style phone and to continue to get rid of the 302 stock-pile of parts.

The photos of the 5302 show it next to my 1964 hard plastic 500 which is much brighter white.  Note the cut off back of the phone compared to the 500.

This is the first Model 554 that I've run across that has the 426A gas tube inside for party line ringing.


IMHO you did well Dennis. thats some eye candy for sure.
If you're a long way from home,
Can't sleep at night.
Grab your telephone,
Something just ain't right.


Holy cow! I just noticed the 5302 even has a matching plug!
Christmas in June at the Markham household. :)
If you're a long way from home,
Can't sleep at night.
Grab your telephone,
Something just ain't right.

Dennis Markham

Thanks Steve.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I've been tinkering with them ever since this afternoon and here it is nearly 1:00AM (time for sack-time).  Just like a kid on Christmas!


What a great trade!  I did not even know they made Rose Beige 554s.  And a white 5302, how cool is that?  In all my e-bay and other internet prowling of the last year I've yet to see a colored 5302 for sale anywhere. 

Dennis Markham

Another collector friend of mine sold a group of them a while back.  I think he had Aqua, Pink, White and Green.  He sold them as a group I believe in the $3,500 price range.  But they were in showroom condition.


Mr. Markham, I've aways preferred doing a little "horse trading" to buying and selling. Sure money is nice, but when trading sometimes you can get that certain something you may have been wanting but couldn't find. Money isn't all that good since you can't buy what you cant find.
"Ain't Worryin' 'Bout Nothin"

Dennis Markham

It's taken me a few years to actually have something someone else would want....especially a collector that has been at it for forty years.  But it's a good way to get stuff from other collectors on one's level....a couple of new collectors starting out, if like me buy a lot of stuff in the beginning when they have yet to focus on a certain area.  For the long-time collector it can be a good thing because when they bought or obtained whatever it is they're trading away the prices were much less than the are now.  So it works out good.  On the Mahogany 500 I gave up in this case I actually got it in a trade but coughed up several soft plastic phones in top at the time I had to give up good to get good.

By the way Joshua, Mr. Markham was my father.  Please call me Dennis, or Hey You, or..............(have fun and fill in the blanks) but Mr. Markham sounds too formal.  :)


Dennis, that's a sweet deal for you! The 5302 will whiten up (you knew I had to mention this- call me peroxide Dan). Was the Rose Beige the one off Ebay about 1.5 years ago? That was the last one I have ever seen.

I am looking forward to the phone show on Labor Day weekend in Cincinnati to see colored 5302's and those other rare birds that don't show up on EBay.
"Imagine how weird telephones would look if our ears weren't so close to our mouths." - Steven Wright

Dennis Markham

Dan, it could have been the same Rose Beige.  When Mark brought it over yesterday I was showing him a 554 I have in Mediterranean Blue and told him the seller was Charles Hensley from California.  He was selling some soft plastic sets about that time.  Mark said that is who he bought the Rose Beige set from.  So it may be the one you recall.

Some day I'd like to display the wall sets.  Right now they're in boxes in my dungeon....away from sunlight!


Great catch, Dennis.  I was just sitting here wondering why there aren't more colored 5302s around.....they were made when colored phones were really starting to take off, and since they were making them anyway, you'd think they'd have made more to move out the old 302s more quickly.  I think they were still installing 5302s until about 1964.
Jim H.


Dennis - Congrats!  Those are beautiful finds that I really wouldn't had beleived you could even get goodies like that anymore!
I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main roads. Searchin' in the sun for another overload.  I hear you singin' in the wires, I can hear you through the whine, and the Witchita Lineman is still on the line.


The colored 5302 is quite a find. I knew that they're out there, but they seem to be rare as hen's teeth.

I'll be at the Cincinatti show, too. Really looking forward to hopefully being able to see some other phones like this one.


I had mentioned this one to Dennis right after it went up last week, and, the more I watched it, the more fascinated I became with it. 

Dennis Markham

Looks like some "heavy hitters" in on the bidding of that phone.  I was watching it but had no intention of bidding.  It's a nice one to add to your collection!