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Now the Story Can be Told - 1949 WECo 500 Set

Started by Dan/Panther, March 20, 2010, 11:08:11 PM

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I recently posted a thread and then retracted it.
I was watching an auction, and got outbid earlier. I was going to share about it, because I was not going to bid higher than the guy did. The bid showed at $510.00. I had bid $500.00.
Well I posted the auction and in the mean time I went back to it, and found out the guy had withdrew his bid. I of course did not want to publish the auction, for obvious reasons. Well it ended and I did win for $224.00. I hope not a fools bid.
Here are 3 photos to compare.

1) In the first photo, one I'm sure we are all familiar with, notice the numbers and letters around the 10 position. In case you can,t make it out it says;
"O/ Operator/ Z

2) In the second photo also check the numbers and letters around the 10 position. "O/ Operator/ Z. Dennis mentioned in another thread recently a VERY RARE number wheel and probably impossibly to find.

3) Also notice the plunger levers are flat horizontally, and not vertical.
Notice the equalizer box left of  the dial.

4) Notice in the last photo, something I have never even heard of before.
It says;

"Do Not Open, In case of set trouble,  return set to Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey."

5) Notice in Pauls photo of VERY EARLIEST 500 sets, the plunger levers are vertical, in the photo of the phone I won, they are laying horizontally.

I know it's rough, but it looks beautiful to me. Also notice the fingerwheel is broken, and appears it was made from plastic.

I think I have either scored a 49-500, or a prototype 500. Any comments ?
When I get it, I promise many detailed photos.

The More People I meet, The More I Love, and MISS My Dog.  Dan Robinson


got my fingers x'd for ya d/p.......but i wonder why did the first guy withdraw his bid ???


His bid was $1601.00, I think he panicked and was afraid he might win. I was sweating bullets at $500.00, then I upped it it $750.00 after I saw his bid of $1601.00. What really pissed me off was, it revealed my maximum bid, and I had to up it in hopes the $500 would stick in everyone mind, and not think I would up it because it was revealed.
then it went to the wire at $15.50, when I refreshed I thought I had won it at $15.50, and that I had made a judgment error in what I thought was looking at. Then it finished at $224.00. I didn't panic at the price, because it confirmed, I was not the only one that saw it's potential, 130 people viewed the auction.
this is why I don't like it when people post auction that are active, other than the contest we have. This I thought was a sleeper because the photos were bad and no one was asking questions.
I must say to Jorge, I'm sorry I pulled the original post, and did not give the link to the auction, it had 2 hours to go. I hope you understand.

Dennis told me, when I said I would love to have a 500 with my Birth year, but unfortunately I was born in 1949. He said; "Don't give up, there may be one in your future, or something similar. He may well have been right, I sure hope so.

The More People I meet, The More I Love, and MISS My Dog.  Dan Robinson



Good luck with that phone. At your convenience, please post the auction number.


This is super exciting Dan!  I think you've found the Holy Grail of 500 sets!  That dial bezel alone has to be one of only a few, if any are still left.  Does it have a cover and handset?

Great find and great deal!


D/P, I really really hope that this is what you're looking for. 
- Tom

Dennis Markham


I was the bidder that bid $222.22.  I did  not see this post prior to the end of the auction, in fact not until now (8:49 AM on Sunday morning).  I was alerted to this item over 24 hours before it ended.  Not for the rare dial bezel but because of the rare, early chassis.  I was alerted by another collector about the auction and not as a result of your post here on the forum.  I noticed the Z/O on the dial bezel from the lousy photo.

I knew by the ebay feedback number that an experienced bidder had bid, but of course didn't know it was you. But I still would have bid.  Had I  known that you had bid $500 I would not have because I wasn't going to bid that high.  

So based on your posting here, I take it you are the owner of that chassis?  Congratulations.  The only thing that stood between you getting it for $15.50 and $224 was me.    Had I known the story ahead of time I would have saved myself the trouble and you $200.  I never saw the $500 bid as I didn't log on to snipe it at the end until a few minutes before it ended.  By that time it was still $15.50.

We all look forward to plenty of photos about this unusual item.  I think Paul Fassbender would love photos as well.


Wait a minute...let me think about this.  YOU were the only one thing that stood in the way of me getting it for $15.50! :)

Jorge (and others), here is the auction:

Doug Rose

D/P ....outstanding find!!! I have never see a 49 500 set, so I am hoping you will be able to show it to us....good luck, I think it was a great gamble....Doug


Interesting to see the auction page.  Had I known about this phone I would have been in the running as a 49' or prototype 500 is high on my wishlist.  I think it's easily worth a grand.  Clearly the seller had no idea what it was, they seemed to think it was just a junker, crappy pics, no mention of date codes or even that it's a model 500.

Glad it not only went to a collector who knows what it is, but to D/P who will really treat it right.

Dennis Markham

McHeath, I was also glad that the seller did not sell it under the table to a "vulture" who may not have seen it.  Perhaps there were no inquiries to the like.  As Dan said, over 130 people viewed the auction.  That's not a terrible lot, but a good amount.


Noticed that it seems to have front pads attached with screws, like the 302?


Dennis Markham

It looks like the real deal to me.


What would you all do with this phone?  (out of curiosity)  Would you leave as it, give it a good cleanup but leave incomplete, add the missing parts to make it functional, or what? 

I would clean it up, probably would have contracted that job out with one of our pros on the forum as I'm not the best at it.  Certainly would have hooked up a handset to see if it worked.  But then not sure, leave it as found with all the missing parts means it's all original, and it's a very historic phone.  Adding parts needed to use it could give the satisfaction of using it. 

Wonder where the seller got it? 

Craig T

Not often I keep the shines in my pocket, but I would wipe off the dirt on this one and leave it. Put a nice clear plastic case over the top of it, like one of those cake covers. Don't forget to draw a crown around the top of the plastic case b/c this one is the new king of 500s.


I'm really surprised that of the 130 views, that only two or three seemed to see what was hiding there. Why didn't your friend bid ?
I think of the 130 views probably 100 were my views, I kept looking at it about every few hours all week long. I was a nervous wreck, and very edgy all week.
I've seen these type auction go to the wire at pennies, then hit the big bucks in the last 5 minutes.
If this turns out to be the real deal, I must ask everyone to me help in determining exactly what to do with it. I may have been the one that ultimately won it, but I some how feel it doesn't belong to me alone. This may very well be the only one of it's kind, as I've heard that even though others own one, photos, or physical appearances seem not to exist.
I hope I'm not overstating how I feel about this. From what I've learned over the past 18 months, most seem to agree this is the Holy Grail of phones.
If it were any other phone, my instincts would want me to clean it up, and find parts to put it back to original condition. However, I don't think that is the case with this.

I feel pretty much like you do right now.

Believe me I do also.

that is what I felt, I wonder where to find information on it's original condition ?

The real gamble was hoping I bid high enough. The evidence was there, that it definitely was not anything usual.

I don't know where he found it, but I bet he's going to be looking very hard for a long time. He lives near Murray Hills NJ home of Bell Labs. I bet some landfill there is full of 49-500's.
Maybe they had an on site disposal area, that could still be uncovered.


The More People I meet, The More I Love, and MISS My Dog.  Dan Robinson