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Untouched Western Electric 50AL?

Started by virre, December 30, 2021, 01:22:03 PM

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Hi Folks,

Thought maybe some of you might be interested in the Western Electric 50AL that I was lucky enough to become the new custodian of, even though it's not exactly a rare or exotic item. I also feel like the Candlestick forum could use another post before 2021 ends : )

It showed up on Mercari for 150.00 + 10.00 shipping. I was a little unsure about pulling the trigger on the purchase because:

    I had plenty of projects in the backlog already, phone-related and otherwise
    I had never bought from Mercari before
    The photos in the original listing weren't all that great
    I've heard some real horror stories about people fabricating fakes of all kinds of things and selling them online

But I talked myself into it because:

    I've been looking for a WE dial candlestick for some time
    The dirt, grime, and corrosion (patina, heh) looked like the kind that takes a lot of time to build up
    The motheaten felt on the base and woefully deteriorated cords would require some masterful fakery
    It was available and affordable-ish, and shipping was very reasonable   
    The seller was highly rated
    It looked untouched

The phone shipped from McClure, PA.

I drove through the general area that the phone was shipped from a couple of years ago, and it didn't really seem too far-fetched to believe that the phone could have originally come from that neck of the woods - it's a beautiful area with many once-affluent little towns with older buildings.

Exactly the kind of area where you'd hope to find an old phone sitting in the attic of someone's old Victorian, or maybe tucked away in the back of some old brick commercial building about to be demolished.

As far as I can tell, the phone is as it was when taken out of service:

    The non-ferrous perch is stamped "50AL"
    The non-ferrous transmitter face is marked "PROPERTY OF AMERICAN TEL & TEL CO / 323" on the tag
    The non-ferrous, nickeled finger stop is stamped "2AB".
    The sides of the ferrous dial housing are stamped with patent date information.
    The number plate is not notched
    The fingerwheel, dial center, transmitter cup, transmitter cup screws, stem, and base are non-ferrous, presumably brass. I assume any non-ferrous metal part is probably brass.
    The finish seems to be the original finish. I didn't see any flakes coming off like you sometimes see in old lacquered or enamelled finishes. It may be a japanned finish.

I'm pretty excited about this find. My only immediate plans are to replace the cords and base felt.  They are literally disintegrating.  Every time I move the phone, there's a little pile of fibers left in its place.

From there I'm not sure.  I doubt I'll be running into too many phones like this, so I'm kind of leery of doing much to it.

When I replace the cords and felt, I'll probably hook it up to a subset to see if I get a dial tone. The dial returns with a satisfying clickety-clack, though it's a bit stiff.

I have no plans to refinish anything, though I do plan on cleaning it. I kind of like the state of the current finish - it would be hard to duplicate.

We shall see!




That's what I paid for my original 50al, from a forum member & am proud to be able to admire it every day. You recognized a opportunity to add a "fresh" example to your collection & acted. Congratulations, you have been a very good collector!

FOM material right there!


Panasonic 308/616 Magicjack service


That's a very nice candlestick find with a very nice dial. You did well!
And I love the Mayflower name tag.
I also agree, the candlestick forum has been neglected lately.
Welcome to the forum.


Very nice indeed!
My favourite phones are always ones that are untouched like this, and are much better than a new looking restored example in my opinion.
A gentle clean and new cords would be all I'd do to it.


Nice find with a nice dial too.

If you intend to use the phone I would consider sending the dial to Steve Hiltz Hilsz.

Looking forward to your update.

A collector of  'Monochrome Phones with Sepia Tones'   ...and a Duck!
Vintage Phones - 10% man made, 90% Tribble


Thanks for the feedback everyone, always nice to get a sanity check when it comes to this stuff!

Thanks too for the tip about Steve Hiltz...I'd seen his name highly recommended in the past, but wasn't sure he was still taking on dial repairs. Glad to hear he is.

Desert Phone Guy

I believe that Steve's name is spelled "Hilsz", not "Hiltz".