Author Topic: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?  (Read 11479 times)

Offline McHeath

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2009, 05:23:05 PM »
I really like the early look of your all black 554, and have been prowling for one but not found any.  So, who knows, I might have to take my 59' and give it the Treatment.  I've got an early 7D dial with black fingerwheel, and a G1 handset from 55' that's in bad shape finish wise, and a beige housing for the 554 from 79', and with a can of black paint and some assembly time I might just make myself a faux early 554.  Sure it won't win any awards, but it'd make a cool looking phone in the garage I think.  (the hook will still be small, but it's pitted anyway and so some black paint will do it no harm) 

Don't worry folks, nothing of any actual collectable value will be harmed in the making of this even more Franken'ed Frankenphone. 

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2009, 05:25:46 PM »
Jonathan, I guess my reference to the shift designation came from passed down "lore" from other collectors.  I don't know the information to be factual and have no resource to support the theory.  I have been thinking about it since the question was posed here by Sargeguy.  I'll read Paul F's site to see if he mentions it there.

I believe you sent me the photos that you described of the assembly line.  I did post them here on the forum but will have to search to find them.

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2009, 05:35:46 PM »
Here is the link to the assembly line photo that I was thinking of:

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=750.msg8916#msg8916

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2009, 07:04:04 PM »
I saw a black 554 on eBay and took a chance with it after learning of the handset dates.  It appears to have been made in May of 1955, one month before the phone Jonathan displayed above.  However, the hook is not black, but has the satin finish.

I put an album together for those that may be interested in seeing the phone that I believe is all original to May of 1955.  I also included Jonathan's photos to show the comparisons.  The album can be seen here:

http://tinyurl.com/lpjhzr

A couple photos posted here as well.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 09:46:41 PM by Dennis Markham »

Offline bwanna

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2009, 08:58:06 PM »
very nice find, dennis. thanks for the pictures. interesting about the handset hooks. maybe the the black one got broken off by the same angry person that bent the existing one. :o
donna

Offline McHeath

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2009, 09:41:06 PM »
A great find!  It gives us a bit more of the history of the early 554s, as we now know that curly cords were installed on some, and that some had a shiny finish hook.  As for how long they made the black hook I've no idea, but I do know that my Northern Electric 554 with black switch-hook, which was made in March of 1965, was last in a refurb shop in 1997 and they kept the black hook on it even at that late date. 

My black hook is plastic however, but has the same shape as the early wide metal WE ones. 

Offline jsowers

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2009, 02:03:35 PM »
Dennis, that's a great find you have and it will be even greater when you finish with it. I like your album too, with all the nice closeups. Some of my pictures are lousy by comparison. I never thought they'd be examples or I would have tried harder! :)

I have another theory, but it's only a wild guess. Maybe, like Donna surmised, someone damaged the original black switchhook or knocked the paint off it and some repairman put the satin chrome one on in place of it? The bent axle shows it had abuse at least once, but there's no way to trace it to when. I wish they had dated the switchhooks. And why they didn't replace the axle is anyone's guess.

Or it could all be original, as it appears to be. There's no R stamp anywhere. I have always envisioned the parts on the assembly line being in a huge vat and when they had a change, what was to stop them from combining old and new parts in the vat? In 1955, I think the Shadeland plant in Indianapolis was the only manufacturer of telephone sets for Western Electric, but I could be wrong. So they all came from the same place, which would preclude different manufacturing sites.

It just points out that there's still a lot we don't know about our phones. And finding lots of examples will only help us learn more.
Jonathan

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2009, 03:31:43 PM »
Thanks Jonathan.  I didn't think you would mind me using your photos for the album.  If you would like to use others feel free to e-mail them to me and I'll swap them.

I think about how much force it would take to bend that axle.  One would have to slam the phone down perfectly and quickly in order to bend the cradle without striking the plastic housing on the way down.  I thought perhaps it fell on the hook but then you'd think the plastic would have been damaged.

I've run into a bent axle in the past.  I just set it on the flat, top side of my vise so that the high end in the middle is up, leaving the gap beneath.  Then strike it with the hammer and it will bend back flat, or level.  It doesn't look like the mounting bracket is bent.

I was disappointed that the dial gasket is missing.  Obviously the housing has been removed a few times since 1955.

Another collector must have been interested in the phone.  I learned by checking the seller's sales that it went through a weekly listing once with no bids.  This time it sat at $9.99 until the bitter end when there was some action by bidders with high feedback numbers.  I had asked a question about the dates on the phone which may have prompted a bid or two.  Had one of the other bidders increased their bid by only $1.56 they would have been the winner.  That's more than I would normally pay for a black 554.  But I wanted it if the dates were in fact from May of 1955.  Now to find an earlier one!

Here's the ebay listing:

http://tinyurl.com/pfvpon

« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 06:42:06 PM by Dennis Markham »

Offline jsowers

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2009, 04:52:13 PM »
Thanks Jonathan.  I didn't think you would mind me using your photos for the album.  If you would like to use others feel free to e-mail them to me and I'll swap them.

I don't mind your using them at all. I should just do a better job getting stuff in focus! My camera is nowhere near an expensive model, so it has a few drawbacks when it comes to closeups.

I think about how much force it would take to bend that axle.  One would have to slam the phone down perfectly and quickly in order to bend the cradle without striking the plastic housing on the way down.  I thought perhaps it fell on the hook but then you'd think the plastic would have been damaged.

That would definitely be more force than I would ever be able to exert, even after a telemarketer. :) Maybe the damage happened in storage? Or something caught the phone by the switchhook when it was off-hook? It's a puzzle for sure. You'd think that much force would have damaged the handset.

I've run into a bent axle in the past.  I just set it on the flat, top side of my vice so that the high end in the middle is up, leaving the gap beneath.  Then strike it with the hammer and it will bend back flat, or level.  It doesn't look like the mounting bracket is bent.

Were you ever a vice cop?  ;)  I think it's a vise you put that in, but I'm sorry, I couldn't resist the jab. That's a great way to fix that. I don't have a vise in my house. I have to use my grandfather's, still in his garage after all these years. Not to stray too far off topic, but my grandfather was good at inventing things. He made this sled out of a sheet of stainless steel that would literally FLY. It would mold itself to the uneven snowdrifts and you'd have to hang on for dear life. That was back when we actually had snow in NC. In Michigan it would probably be suicide to have a sled like that.

Back to the phone, it is odd that it sat bidless for one outing and then suddenly four bidders took interest. It's not that high a price for an early model that's numbers matching. We've seen 554s go for lots more. I do think your question helped bring out the bidders. I usually try to ask as late as I can, so maybe someone won't see it, but I run the risk of not getting an answer late in the game.
Jonathan

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2009, 06:48:35 PM »
Thanks Jonathan for tipping me off on "vise" instead of "vice".   I thought it was vice but it was vice-versa.  Poor grammar can be one of my vices.  I appreciate the advice. 

:)

Offline JorgeAmely

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2009, 07:19:53 PM »
Dennis, I have the same problem too. I supervise and advice coworkers in the office to revise televised material. I don't allow them to improvise or misadvise customers, otherwise, their unsupervised and improvised behavior could cost me a revised unsupervised job.  ;) ;)
Jorge

Offline jsowers

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2009, 04:52:13 PM »
Give that man Jorge a pair of Vise Grips!
Jonathan

Offline bingster

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2009, 05:06:11 PM »
Vise and vice are both correct spellings for that clamping gizmo.  Vise is more common in North America, while vice is more common in Britain and Australia.   Betcha didn't know that.

Bringing it home, I don't have a 554. ;D
= DARRIN =



Offline JorgeAmely

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2009, 05:42:47 PM »
Thank you Jonathan.

My novice advice is that such device would service Dennis better. He is our expert phone serviceman and capable of fixing small crevices on phones.
Jorge

Offline McHeath

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Re: Who Among Us Has the Oldest 554?
« Reply #29 on: September 25, 2009, 12:53:35 AM »
Holy vice mania Batman!