Wednesday - 24 September 2014

Art Deco classics ring a bell

09 May 2014Written by Roland Arkell

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 entirely.

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.

Lichfield Pair

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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