There are a few special dial faces that I want to show this time. Those are specifically from the UK. Prior to 1980 the British General Post Office was state owned and the sole supplier of public fixed lines in the UK.
In the pictures above you can see 2 examples of typical Post Office Ericofon dial faces that I have in my collection. Both phones are marked as Post Office Property. In these years you could see this in a lot of countries. A monopolist providing rental equipment. It is not yours, and this is how they make that clear to you. Every time you use the phone…
After 1980 British Telecom was introduced as a organization, replacing the ‘good old’ GPO. In 1982 the monopoly of providing telecoms services was broken and multiple suppliers were allowed. Mercury Communications was the first one to compete with BT.
So as of 1982 the situation changed and a more customer focused approach was needed to be able to compete. The dial face above is not as fancy as in the old days but it for sure has a different tone. ‘Supplied by’ instead of ‘Owned by’. Actually the dial face is a standard one, no dedicated printing on the base anymore. I guess the days of infinite money supplies were over.
From my experience in the telecoms sector in The Netherlands, a similar process was taking place. A state owned company became private, competition came in and suddenly there was a more friendly approach to customers. Guess it happened in more countries in that period.
Last week I saw this picture of the Hannover Messe in 1969. On the Ericsson stand there was a transparent Ericofon next to the ‘Type 1892’. I identified the clear phone as a Touchtone model. As the TouchTone was introduced in 1967, there was a fair chance this was the case.
A few days later I was able to add a clear TouchTone Ericofon to my collection…
My previous statement that the clear Ericofon seemed to be used as a presentation model to executives and commercial relations, made at least some sense.
The phone arrived and it is in perfect shape and in working order. A great item!!
As you can see the dial face of this one is numbers only. All other Touch Tones I have, are equipped with the typical Northern Electric dial face with alphanumerical buttons.
As I already showed some time ago in an older post, there is a stamp that has the Ericofon on it. Recently I was able to get a first day cover of this stamp from 1999. It is a nice to have, and worth sharing here, but not something really special.
Something more special, and with a bit more history is the first day cover below. This one I like a lot.
This envelop, with the Ericofon as an image on the envelope itself, was send in December 1962 from Tunesia to Sweden. So the First Day Cover is in fact about the series of stamps on the envelope. But…
…the receiver of the envelope was the General Director of the Swedish Post Office between 1947 and 1964, Erik Swartling.
The sender must be Ericsson Tunesia. Actually I did not open the envelope, as it is sealed, but inside there is a note with some text that you can read if you keep it against the light. It says “Good Wishes For The Next Year” and “Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson”. It also shows the LM Ericsson logo on the note inside. Unfortunately I am not able to read more of the note…
I really have to control myself not opening it. But as Erik obviously never opened it, who am I to do so… ?
These are quite a bunch of very very rare Ericofons you see here. Unfortunately they are not mine. 🙁 I am not aware of the origin of these picture, but if it is your set of Ericofons, please contact me, as I found them on social media.
These are so called ‘swirl’ types. They were never officially produced. But they were obviously the result of moving from one color to another in the production process.
It seems that when they were producing red Ericofons for instance, and they wanted to start producing whites, the colors could mix in the machine. A few models would have these effects during that switch. Usually they were thrown away, but I am pretty sure that these phone were so cool that you just had to smuggle them out.
What I find strange, is that the cap also has the same effect. I always thought the caps would be produced separately. Or… they just produced both more or less in the same production line, at the same time. Or… they had to look for a cap somewhere… I don’t know.
Both Polestar and the Ericofon are fabulous pieces of Swedish design from 1954 to 2020. It took some time and tea before I had it all to work but in the end it is there! With the Vivaldi browser I could open this site…
Already for a long time I know that there are playsets from the Ericofon on the market. But never I have bought one. Now I got the opportunity to get one from France although the origin is Italian.
This set reminded me of the 4 intercom sets I made with 2 Ericofons for an exhibition back in 2018.
Two Ericofons connected by a simple wire, functioning as an intercom… a nice playset for kids. In the old days at least. Not sure if these days kids will still be amused by these kind of toys when they have a smartphone or tablet as well.
The size of the phones is approximately the same as the size of the original Ericofon. Nice detail is that the box is showing a wedge, but it contains a flat type of Ericofon (sorry… 😉 ). Each phone runs on a large 3V battery that I do not think are still for sale anymore. From the booklet, the following text I found quite amusing:
The ‘telefoni comunicanti’ playset was manufactured by Ingap, located in Padova, Italy and has article number 6090. They were quite famous with their tin, and later plastic, cars as from the 1930’s onwards. Unfortunately I do not know the year of production but I expect it should have been produced in the 1960’s.
There was also a 2/3 scale Brio Ericofon toy on the market but this one I haven’t seen popping up yet.
On September 11th 2015 the JKL museum (aka American Museum of Telephony) in Butte, California, USA was hit by a forest fire and got destroyed. Everything in the collection unfortunately disappeared in the flames. The picture below (courtesy of JKL Museum) shows the havoc.
Almost immediately after the damage was done, they started rebuilding their museum and a new collection. What was achieved in the past years is incredible. If you visit their website you can see what was done. Not only the building, but especially the extensive collection they have today is amazing.
JKL Museum… it’s strange to name your museum after the letters under the 5 in the dial. But the name comes from the main benefactor, John K. La Rue. Makes sense now.
And of course they have a couple of, I spotted 9, Ericofons as well. I noticed this Persian Grey manual Ericofon that I provided to the museum already back in 2016, a few months after the fire. They even have the 700 Gold Centenary, which took me ages to find 😉 It is really impressive to see what they have when you take the virtual tour through their space.