Designed and manufactured by the Siemens factory in Woolwich from 1929, the 200 Series dial telephone (aka the Neophone) is today considered an Art Deco design classic and the first truly modern telephone.
Standard issue black versions, rented en masse to customers by
the General Post Office, will now command two- and three-figure
sums depending upon type and condition.
But those encased in ivory-coloured plastic (typically urea
formaldehyde for early models and acrylic for later ones) are
harder to find in good order while the small number in 'jade green'
and 'lacquer red' are a different commercial proposition
Handsets in these two special colours attracted a substantially
increased subscription cost at the time, enough to make them
something of a novelty, even before most phones of this type were
discarded or replaced as obsolete in the 1960s.
The pair of red and green 1950s-era Neophones seen at Richard
Winterton of Lichfield on May 2 were both in very good condition
and sold with matching bell sets - the separate pedestal unit to
make them ring - a combination collectors know as 'king pyramids'.
These particular models also included the small exchange drawer in
the base for keeping useful numbers.
Estimated at £1500 each, the jade green model sold to a private
collector at £3000, while the lacquer red one went to the same
buyer at £2000.
Auctioneer Adrian Rathbone said: "The purchaser - who travelled
to the saleroom in Lichfield to view the phones in person - has a
great buy as these are rare items that are an important part of
this country's communication history." Bonhams Knightsbridge sold a
jade green 200 Series phone for £4000 in 2011, thought to be the
auction record for the model.
The buyer's premium was 21%.
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