Author Topic: Western Electric Patent Dates on Wood Telephones  (Read 4289 times)

Offline Sargeguy

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Western Electric Patent Dates on Wood Telephones
« on: May 06, 2013, 11:35:55 PM »
One of the distinctive features of old Western Electric Telephones is the patent dates stamped on the sides of the phone above the American Bell Telephone disclaimer.  These were from the era of the "Patent Suits" when The American Bell Telephone Company was buying up telephone-related patents and suing anyone who infringed upon them.  But what do they mean?  How can they be used to date a phone?  Below is a list of different wooden telephone types and the patent dates associated with them. One way is to use the "Rule of 17" which assumes that patents expired after 17 years and the information would not be stamped on new phones produced after that date. By 1907 patent dates were stamped on paper tags inside of phones.  The rule is useful when there is a wide range of dates, not so much when there is not.  Hopefully we can sort it out.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 08:47:09 AM by Sargeguy »
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: Western Electric Patent Dates on Wood Telephones
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 12:00:09 AM »
Magneto Top Boxes

Top boxes are the top part of a 2 or 3 box telephone, or variation thereof.  They are usually made of walnut.  The have a magneto, a switch-hook, and a ringer.  The ringer is situated so that the bells are on the front door, as opposed to the top.  Most have binding posts along the bottom and top edges.  When larger phones were removed from service, these boxes were converted into compact wall phones and magneto boxes.  When this was done the binding posts were often removed and the backboard cut down.  The hook was also removed and the opening covered with a metal plate during conversions.



This is from an early Charles Williams top box (Charles Williams was the predecessor of Western Electric and manufactured Bell's earliest phones) circa 1881.  It is engraved:

PATENTED
APRIL 16, 1878
DEC 17, 1878
JULY 30, 1879
PAT NOV 11, 1879
OTHER PATENTS
APPLIED FOR
--------------------------------------------------

Here is the side view of an early Western Electric top from a 3-boxer:



Note that the dates are slightly different from those above:

PATENTED
APRIL 18, 1878
DEC 17, 1878
PAT.MAY 17,1879
JULY 29, 1879
PAT NOV 11, 1879
OTHER PATENTS
APPLIED FOR


---------------------------------------------------





#4 Box
This was a #4 top box converted into a 293A wall phone.  It has been stamped 293A inside the front cover. Some of the dates appear to be embossed, not engraved.  It reads:

PATENTED

APR 6 1878
JAN 8 1883
OTHER PATENTS APPLIED FOR

Using the 17 year rule gives us a phone that dates from 1883-1895.  There is a switchhook marked 1893, which would mean the phone came from the 1893-95 period.  This phone was formerly part of a three-boxer with Blake transmitter.
----------------------------------------------


--------------------------------------------
This is from an un-numbered top box with a steer-horn hook and older style ringer coils and magneto



PATENTED

APR 16 1878
JAN 9 1883
OTHER PATENTS APPLIED FOR

Using the 17 year rule gives us a phone that dates from 1883-1895.  It is most likely from the mid-1880s.  This phone was formerly part of a three-boxer with Blake transmitter.
--------------------------------------------

This is from  an un-numbered  top box with a steer-horn hook and older style ringer coils.


PATENTED
APRIL 16, 1878
DEC 17, 1878
MAY 27,1879
NOV 11, 1879
AUG 31, 1880
JULY 20, 1880
JAN 9 1883
DEC 28, 1884

Using the 17 year rule gives us a phone that dates from 1885-1886, because it does not feature the 1886 patent This phone was formerly part of a three-boxer with Blake transmitter
--------------------------------------------



The following dates were taken from a TYPE 2/21? box.  The "1" is smaller and appears to have been added later.  It is an AMERICAN BELL TELEPHONE box that was turned over to the Lincoln Telephone Company as part of their compromise with the Bell System:

TYPE 21

PATENTED

DEC 23 1884
SEP 28 1886
NOV 16 1886
APR 8 1890
JUL 11 1893

Using the rule of 17 we can determine that the phone was manufactured between 1893-1901.
----------------------------------------------


The following  are taken from a 2-boxer marked TYPE 21 on the side:

TYPE 21

PATENTED

DEC 23 1884
SEP 28 1886
NOV 16 1886
APR 8 1890
MAR 31 1891
JUL 11 1893

Using the rule of 17 we can determine that the phone was manufactured between 1893-1901.

--------------------------------------------

Here is a slightly later TYPE 21 box that was converted to a "Pony Phone":



TYPE 21

PATENTED

NOV 16 1886
MAR 31 1891
JUL 11 1893
JUL 17 1894

Looking at the dates from the previous phone we can use the rule of 17 to date this phone from 1901-1903.  If it had been earlier it would have had the 1884 patent date.
_____________________________



The TYPE 44 is a magneto top box similar to a TYPE 21 only with an exclusion switch.  The following dates are from a top box stamped TYPE 44:

TYPE 44

PATENTED

APR 8 1890
JUL 11 1893


Using the 17 year rule would date this between 1894-1908.  The phone is obviously older than 1900, unsure why no earlier patent dates.

---------------------------------------------



The following  are taken from a 2-boxer marked TYPE 72 on the side:

TYPE 72

PATENTED

OCT 31 1882
DEC 23 1884
NOV 16 1886
APR 8 1890
JUL 11 1893

Using the 17 year rule, this box dates from 1893-1899.
------------------------------------------


The following  are taken from a box marked TYPE 72G on the side.  It is an unconverted top box with binding posts attached.

TYPE 72G

PATENTED

OCT 31 1882
DEC 23 1884
NOV 16 1886
APR 8 1890
JUL 11 1893

Using the 17 year rule, this box dates from 1893-1899.

----------------------------------------------------

These dates are from another top box, which is unmarked on the side but stamped TYPE 72 on the back.  It appears that this was a transition between the period when the model # of a box was stamped into the back rather than the side.

PATENTED

NOV 16 1886
MAR 31 1891
JUL 11 1893
JUL 17 1894

Using the 17-year rule this one would date from somewhere between 1894-1903.

------------------------------------------------------------

This 295 subset can best be described as "transitional"  it has a decal on the front door,a paper sheet with the patent dates inside and this stamped where the dates would have been expected.

« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 09:17:28 AM by Sargeguy »
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: Western Electric Patent Dates on Wood Telephones
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2013, 08:24:46 PM »
Subscriber Sets

These are almost always 295A subscriber sets (and other 295 variations).  They are similar to the 293A wall phone except for the switch-hook, transmitter and receiver.  Newer versions have decals on the front and a paper tag with the patent dates printed on it inside the door.  These are sometimes painted black and re-designated 295BP or 495BP.  I am not sure if MAY 2, 1892 andr MAY 3, 1892 are different dates, or more likely, just a typo.

Here are some dates from a well-marked 295A:

PATENTED

JUN. 24, 1890
MAR. 31, 1891
MAY 3, 1892
NOV 29, 1892
APR. 17, 1894
JAN. 19, 1897
MAR 12, 1901

OTHER PATENTS
APPLIED FOR

These are almost identical to those on one of the 293As above.  The patents for the transmitter would be on the back of the transmitter cup, and the 122 receivers had no patent dates on them, so the dates on the box are basically the same.  This one apparently dates from 1901-1906, since it does not have the later, 1906 patent date.


---------------------------------------------------------
Here is a 297G from 1903-1907, it is very well marked, including the very rare "SOUTERN MASSACHUSETTS TELEPHONE CO." imprint:


PATENTED

JUN. 24, 1890
MAR. 31, 1891
MAY 3, 1892
APR. 17, 1894
MAR. 3, 1896
JAN. 19, 1897
MAR. 6 1900
MAR 12, 1901
MAR. 17, 1903

OTHER PATENTS
APPLIED FOR

MADE FOR THE AMERICAN
BELL TELEPHONE CO AND
LICENSED TO BE USED ONLY
WITH IT'S TELEPHONES

---SOUTHERN---
MASSACHUSETTS
TELEPHONE CO.



The dates are different, most likely due to the fact that this is a 297G and has a relay.
---------------------------------------------------------
PATENTED

JUN. 24, 1890
MAR. 31, 1891
MAY 3, 1892
NOV 29, 1892
APR. 17, 1894
MAR. 3, 1896
JAN. 19, 1897
MAR 12, 1901
JUL. 10, 1906

PATENT
APPLIED FOR

Note that this one does not carry the AMERICAN BELL TELEPHONE disclaimer and says "PATENT" instead of "OTHER PATENTS".  This phone can be dated to the second half of 1906 or first half of 1907 using the "rule of 17"


------------------------------------------------

The 295 L is a variation that apparently has no coil.  This example is less well marked:

PATENTED

MAR. 31, 1891
JAN. 19, 1897

OTHER PATENTS
APPLIED FOR



----------------------------------------------

Older models include the 101, which has the bells on the square door instead of on top.  These are much deeper than later subsets.  The dates on a 101 in my collection read:

TYPE 101

PATD.

JAN. 19, 1897

A similar subset from my collection is marked 101E and has the same dates:



These are much less common than the 295A and were likely only produced for a short period of time.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 05:41:47 PM by Sargeguy »
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: Western Electric Patent Dates on Wood Telephones
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2013, 09:17:04 PM »
Compact Wall Telephones

Compact wall telephones are small telephones that include a coil, condenser, hook-switch, ringer (on the top), transmitter and receiver.  They are common battery sets.  

------------------------------------------------

The TYPE 124 is an fairly common type.  It did not pre-date the the 293A but seems to have been an excuse for the Bell System to get rid of older parts.  

Here are some of the dates from an example posted by the phone house  I have another in my collection that has the same dates.  Note that the dates are identical of those of 293As.

PATENTED

JUN. 24, 1890
MAR. 31, 1891
MAY 3, 1892
NOV 29, 1892
APR. 17, 1894
JAN. 19, 1897
MAR 12, 1901

OTHER PATENTS
APPLIED FOR



------------------------------------------------------------

This 295 subset can best be described as "transitional"  it has a decal on the front door,a paper sheet with the patent dates inside and this stamped where the dates would have been expected.



-----------------------------------------------

The type most often encountered is the 293A. Compact wall phones have the model # stamped inside the door and/or on the backplate. They come in either walnut or oak and may or may not have patent dates stamped into the side.  Often, they were re-painted black at a later date, although there are some examples that appear to be factory painted like this example from 1907-1909:



Here are the patent dates from an early 293A:

PATENTED

JUN. 24, 1890
MAR. 31, 1891
MAY 2, 1892 (typo)
NOV 29, 1892
APR. 17, 1894
JAN. 19, 1897
MAR 21, 1901
JUL 7, 1903

OTHER PATENTS
APPLIED FOR


[/quote]

Here are dates from an identical phone:

« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 06:50:00 PM by Sargeguy »
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409