Author Topic: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets  (Read 5963 times)

Offline Dennis Markham

  • VintageRotaryPhones.com
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5610
    • VintageRotaryPhones.com
Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« on: January 07, 2010, 08:40:39 PM »
A friend and fellow telephone collector, Mark Scola offered me an article to post on the Forum.   The article was a collaboration by Mark with Paul Fassbender and John Huckeby.  At the end of the article you will see a link to a web album with photos of painted B1's, D1's, 302's and even a Princess phone.  

Mark has been collecting telephones for over forty years and is a member of the A.T.C.A. and the T.C.I.  I hope you all enjoy this informative article.


Western Electric Painted Metal Sets


     I wish I had bought the many "spray can" painted 302's that I have run into as a collector of telephones all these years.  I could have made a fortune on eBay with them.  For the record, and your personal knowledge, 102's were available (unless custom ordered) in Ivory, Light Gold, Old Brass, Statuary Bronze, and Oxidized Silver.  “Battle Ship Gray” was also used in the switching office.  Examples of those are exceptionally rare. The D1 body phone (commonly called the Model 202) was available in the same colors until the advent of the F-1 handset, Circa 1936. Then Gray Green was added as was Dark Blue, Old Rose (often faded to Rose Beige) Pekin Red and again, there were custom orders. The Model 302's (circa 1937) were initially available in Brown and "Yale" Blue (a little lighter than Dark Blue). Then they were offered in the same painted colors as the 202's with some custom orders. In1939 Light Gold was substituted with Dark Gold. Dark Gold was used until 202's & 302's were finally pulled from the list of available phone types circa 1960. Gold Imperials were the exception, available through 1965. This pretty much covers the painted phone issue, with some notable exceptions.

     Early painted E-1 handsets were black Bakelite without seams, soon replaced with brown Bakelite.  The replacement occurred because paint applied to black Bakelite seemed to chip easily.  The brown Bakelite seemed to react better to the primer and paint.  This “two-step” process was used in early painting.  First a primer coat would be applied and then the final color coat.  This practice continued until around 1950.  The earlier quality and elasticity of paints was poor.  During World War II painting technology improved allowing for single-coat painting where the primer was mixed with the final paint color.  This method was used for military purposes, improving manufacturing times.  So around 1950 the switch was made back to black Bakelite.   The improved process improved the longevity of the painted surface of the handsets.  The earliest painted F-1's were also Brown Bakelite and also without seams.  Most of the 202 Imperial phones had painted handsets.  They were mainly Ivory over black as again, the new paints were superior to the earlier types. This is why you see seamed handsets painted in the same colors as the thermoplastic 302's or matching 202 models. Now, the story does not stop there. John Huckeby and Paul Fassbender have given me a ton of information on painted metal sets.  John, in particular knew personally the guy that was given the task of custom matching Western Electric sets for decorators. I guess if one had the money, Western Electric had the time.

     I have seen painted 500 sets in Gold paint and Gold & Chrome plating, with a back-painted or plated clear dial face.  Also, I have seen Princess phones in Gold Paint and Oxidized Silver as well as Imperial style painting, with a Gold Plated housing and an Ivory handset. This does not include the Polane painted sets done after 1970.  Polane painting was usually done by contractor as Western Electric was more concerned with making 2500's and Trimline sets. Painting the 500, 554's etc., was an afterthought as the 500 sets had already paid for themselves.

     So if you run into an early Western Electric set that looks a little strange like the pictures seen here, you just might have a real treasure on your hands.

Photos of some of the sets mentioned here can be viewed here:

http://tinyurl.com/yddvc5f


The phone below, included in the web album is a Statuary Bronze B1 (102).
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 08:42:24 PM by Dennis Markham »

Offline ntophones

  • ****
  • Posts: 315
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2010, 09:39:43 PM »
Dennis, thank you for sharing that very interesting article. I didn't know about all the brown bakelite.
--nto

Offline bingster

  • Contest Director
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2945
    • OTRplus Classic Radio
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2010, 10:18:27 PM »
Excellent article!  Thanks to Mark for sharing it with us, and thanks for posting it, Dennis.

Some of the other colors mentioned can be seen halfway down this page:

http://www.phonemandave.net/westernelectric4.htm
= DARRIN =



Offline AtomicEraTom

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1322
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2010, 01:48:34 AM »
Awesome article!  I am really partial to that imperial 302!!!
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.

Offline Doug Rose

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7099
  • Blondie & the Kid of Phone
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2010, 09:49:57 AM »
Let me tell you a little about Mark Scola. I had been in the ATCA a while when I learned about the List Serv. When I found my Western Electric Blood Red 302 in 2004, it had a Western Electric Brown Bakelite F1, which I thought looked cool. When I posted a picture on the ATCA List, Mark emailed me right away. I had never met Mark before. He had the same phone, with the matching Factory painted F1 handset. His camera wasn't working at the time, but he said he had an extra handset in perfect condition. I kept putting him off, saying I was fine with it the way it was. Well, Mark being Mark, just sent me the handset anyway and said if I didn't want it, just toss it. It is a PERFECT match. Softplastic Blood Red Base and a Factory Painted Blood Red handset. I have since had a long friendship with Mark. Not only is he extremely talented, but the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He has an amazing knowledge of phones and a really talented guitar player to boot.  This Forum is extremely fortunate that Mark's friend Dennis, received permission to post this....Doug
Kidphone

Offline Doug Rose

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7099
  • Blondie & the Kid of Phone
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2010, 01:57:45 PM »
Dennis, thank you for sharing that very interesting article. I didn't know about all the brown bakelite.


Here is a picture of my brown bakelite E1 with all the paint removed. Looks like milk chocolate....Doug]
Kidphone

Offline Doug Rose

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7099
  • Blondie & the Kid of Phone
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2010, 03:32:22 PM »
Collectors....here is a phone that was made for me by Mark Scola. Mark worked for years at Ford Motor Company and knows a few thing about paint, as you can see. This is a Statuary Bronze 202. You hardly ever see an original in this condition as they loose their paint from years of use. This was an actual "color" Western had available. Mark has an original: 102 (pictured in this post), 202, 302 and a C1 space saver in Statuary Bronze. I am more than happy with my "Scola Original".....Doug
« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 03:34:46 PM by Kidphone »
Kidphone

Offline Sargeguy

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4681
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2010, 06:08:43 PM »
Here is a brown E-1.  This one has a lot of red marbling, it was from an Ivory 202 set that was spraypainted blue.



This is another white elephant.  I have no idea what a fair price for it would be so it is going up on eBay shortly to pay for some other purchases.  10% discount to any forum member if you buy it.
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409

Offline Dan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1960
  • 1957 WE 500-P
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2010, 06:32:07 PM »
Is a seamless handset like this older than one with seams? What is the difference
"Imagine how weird telephones would look if our ears weren't so close to our mouths." - Steven Wright

Offline Wallphone

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 688
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2010, 06:43:58 PM »
I thought that I read either here on the Forum or on the TCI Listserv that the seamless are older. With the seamless you can't see were the parting line is because they ground it off and therefore it is seamless. Then they decided to put a recess (seam) were the parting line is so they could eliminate the grinding process. But I could be wrong.
Dougpav

Offline bingster

  • Contest Director
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2945
    • OTRplus Classic Radio
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2010, 06:46:55 PM »
Exactly right, Doug.  Technically, they both have seams, and the difference is in the way the seams were dealt with--smoothing or routing.

It should also be noted that the earlier caps were seamless, too.  They're frequently found mix-n-match, but seamless caps add to the value of a seamless handle.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2010, 06:50:57 PM by bingster »
= DARRIN =



Offline Kenny C

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1850
  • Bell Sytem
Re: Painted Metal Western Electric Sets
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2010, 06:57:13 PM »
here is an ad showing the seamless handset with seamed caps. and the second shows seamless handset and caps
In memory of
  Marie B.
1926-2010