Category Archives: dial faces

Lost Rivers Of London

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.

Circles of Mania III

Last week I was able to get an old case from 1954. This means a model that was only available for companies and pre-mass production. This old case was equipped with a quite rare dial face, and that is why it catched my attention.

1954 Mandarin Red and 1959 Princess Pink Old Cases

Unfortunately the dial faces on the pictures are not 100% as I would like them to be, but they are not commonly seen so worth showing here. From both dial faces I have only one.

Left is ‘the first dial face that was available outside Sweden‘ (on a 1954 Mandarin Red). There was some moist in between the dial face and the chassis so there is some corrosion visible. It is a pity because it doesn’t have any cracks. Right is ‘the second dial face that was available outside Sweden‘ (on a 1959 Princess Pink). Damaged by brute force to apply the base to the shell or it suffered from a hard smack…

In total there are 23 different dial faces for the rotary type as far as I know of. I am still missing 4 of them: the ‘First Australian’, the ‘Swedish pre-Telia’, the ‘Chinese’ and the ‘Clear’ for the Ericofon nerds amongst us.

The Broken Wheel

The Ericofon was made in 3 different shapes, looking at the shell. But also in a functional way there are 3 types. There is one with a dial face, a touchtone and a… dial-less model. The latter is also referred to as the Manual Service or CB model.

manualsSo far I have only seen these in the new case type and not in the old case. But I heard from a friend collector that he has one, in the Swedish variant. So they do exist in old case as well (~1960), and than I mean of course in an original setup and not put together in a later stage. Colors could be any color available, but gray is the most common. The “dial face” appears in 2 types, the Swedish as shown above and a North Electric type (which I am still looking for).

Usually these phones were used in places where there was no need to dial or you were not allowed to dial. One can think of e.g. hospitals or elevators as places where these could be spotted. However, there could also be special type of CB models, custom made for the occasion. Bob Mills refers in his book to the Australian Department of Civil Aviation, or even the Air Force, where they used them in control towers. “These sets were probably always grey and had no dial mechanicals, no induction coil and a microphone in place of the transmitter. The switchhook springs simply disabled the receiver and the microphone when the instrument was set down. What appears to be a locally made printed circuit board was mounted horizontaly above the chassis to interconnect the cords and components.”

The shells and chassis are always from the dial version. The chassis is stripped and misses the dial mechanics. There are types with and without ringers.


Two ‘common’ examples, they are still rather hard to find, can bee seen above. The left model is also equiped with a PBX button. The exact function is not known to me but it is for sure custom made as you can see the microphone being directly wired to the chassis.

Update 07/03/2016: 

Last week the North Electric manual phone arrived. It is an Aqua Mist flat with Ericotone, in pretty good shape and fully functioning.  There is a small scratch on the dial face but since these are hard to find in Europe I guess I have to handle that. Although the typical chassis; without dial mechanism; is from 1958, the rest is of 1964. A beautiful year. It is replacing the Aqua Mist that was already there and will be passed to another collection. Below is the new phone on the right. The one on the left is just another LME manual.



Update 17/05/2021:

In the movie below you can see a typical use case of this type of phone. Just pickup and talk.

Various Hands


The phone above was originally a Swedish phone, created for the European market in 1962. It is a flat new case.

Sometimes the need for phones in certain markets was so big that other markets had to deliver them. This is the case here. This phone was more or less re-branded from European to North Electric, to be sold on the US market.



In this picture you can see that the neon light that is normally present on the Ericotone ringer is applied on the chassis directly. This makes sure the phone lights up when it rings.


The other picture shows the original dial face sticker that was used to re-brand the dial face from a 1 to 0 dial face to a North Electric like dial face including the letters so typical for the US.


The missing Ericotone was replaced with the external Ericsson ringer with the buzzer. The big wall moutable box only contains a small buzzer as normally used outside the US. It sounds different, but in the end, various hands transferred an European Ericofon ready to be sold in the US.

Gold Is The Metal


Yeehaa! Today I received my Aztec Gold Ericofon. The gold paint has some wear and needs to be restored here and there. But that I already knew upfront. Actually I did not have too much time this evening to check it out but there is one thing that I wanted to know: the insides.

I unpacked it and removed the chassis to check what was inside. Hmm…


So what do we have?

A K14 rotary chassis with an Ericotone version 3 ringer and a standard North Electric dial face. The shell was something to puzzle about. It is a Taj Mahal TouchTone shell that was adapted to fit a rotary chassis (thanks Richard!). Looking into the shell you will see that there are plastic cubes glued into the shell to fit the 4 screws. The receiver is soldered directly to the contacts because the contact pads are missing. Also the microphone is glued into the shell. A weird combination of parts, most likely put together by North Electric.

Update the day after:


As you can the see the  shell has some wear and damage on the paint. In the next few weeks I will try to restore this. Not sure yet how I want to do this. The advantage I have is that the surface is not very smooth. It looks like, and that is the purpose of this Aztec Gold, that small water drops are all over the phone.

In the pictures below you can see the details of the shell and the contacts. Since the shell is a Touch Tone, there are no brackets to mount the chassis on. This is resolved with the plastic parts glued inside the shell. Very creative. The speaker is glued into the shell as well and can’t be removed. The contacts are fixed to the speaker wires.


The strange thing is that under the dial face the chassis is marked with week 19, 1972. On the top of the chassis it is dated with week 42, 1974. My conclusion is that the original chassis was made in 1972 but that this phone was put together in 1974. Because Touch Tones were produced until 1972, the stock with TT shells was obsolete in 1974 and used for other purposes.

As I understood, the Aztec Gold phones appear in different versions (rotary, Touch Tone and also with a flat ear-piece). This Aztec Gold was produced in the aftermath of North Electric, just before they sold their Ericofon assets to CEAC.

Circles Of Mania

In my collection I do not have them, but sometimes you come accross weird looking dial faces.
Numbers in combination with text that does not really make sense and that you have never seen before. And that is confusing… 😉

What is this?EricofonStickers

In the past, phones were produced for specific markets or countries. But if, for some reason one market had a shortage in Ericofons, some stock could be transferred from any other market.

And instead of changing the whole dial face, if at all available, to accomodate the market specific needs, a simple sticker was put over the dial face. In the picture you can see 2 different examples of these stickers that are applied under the finger wheel. I ran into them some time ago but I do not believe they are original, but later reproductions.

Not only the inner circle could be ‘stickered’, but also the outer circle. Even painting of the dial face was a possibility.

This way strange combinations are possible. I hope to find an original phone with a maniacal combination some time. Would be nice to illustrate this story.

Update 17/09/2015:


This week I received a phone with an adjusted dialface. Not by the stickers above, but by nice homemade patching.

In the meantime I removed the stickers. These were placed to convert the North Electric dial to the Swedish standard.

Still looking for an original stickered dial face.

Update 30/10/2015:rebranddial

The original sticker made for this purpose showed up in a phone that I recently got. The details can be seen in the post ‘Various Hands’.

This dial face was originally a very common 1 to 0 dial face, at least when you live in Europe. It was rebranded to North Electric style to be sold in the USA. The phone was made in 1962 in Sweden and most likely exported to the USA in that era as well.

This dial face I will leave as is today.

Update 20/04/2017: 

This is an example of an outside sticker. The phone where I found this dial face on was a full Swedish Sandalwood phone, rebranded for US usage. The phone dates to 1968 so a few years later than the previous sticker.

Actually I bought 2 of them recently from an antiquestore in the US, just for the fun of the dial faces… …mania? Another post ‘Circles Of Mania II’ will be created.

Update 18/06/2020: 

Here’s another example of what people do to get the numbers right… Another nice example of homemade creativity 😉 Unfortunatelly I did not make the picture when the dialface was removed from the phone. But when I cleaned it, it turned out to be a perfect Swedish dial.  

Titan Arch

The regular Ericofon we all know by now, but little is known on the Push Button or Touch Tone version of the Ericofon. Not meaning the 700 model.


The most catching and most vulnerable change was the big arch shaped hook switch instead of the central red button. This picture is from the Ericsson archive.

From 1967 to 1972 this touchtone model was made. The chassis was made on request of North Electric by Ericsson in Sweden and the shells were produced by North Electric itself. However it was marketed in the USA solely, few of these phones were sold in Europe as well.

The initial keypad from 1967 had 10 buttons but already one year later the 12 button versions were introduced. In addition to the 0-9 digits, there was a ‘*’ and a ‘#’ button to facilitate modern switching equipment. There is also a version with an ‘A’ and ‘B’ key. The one shown here is the standard North Electric dial face. Note that this touch tone phone did indeed produce so called DTMF (Dual Tone, Multi Frequency) tones. It is not a pulse device like its predecessor and the later 700.



As you can see the fixation of the chassis is established with only 2 screws instead of 4 in the regular rotary dial model. The shell looks identical from the outside, but on the inside you can see the difference.

These models (referred to as 60A) are rather hard to find. Mainly because the hook-switch mechanism was of poor quality. The plastic broke easily when it was treated too roughly. So the Touch Tone model was never a big succes. It is said that only ~7000 of those phones were produced, but only 3000 were sold. The other 4000 were malfunctioning or disassembled for parts.  Not sure if this is indeed the case.

I have seen this phone in 10 colors from different manufacturers (Ericsson and North Electric): Aqua Mist, Blue, Crystal Mint, Candle Glow, Gray, Mandarin Red, Petal Pink, Sahara, Sandalwood and Taj Mahal (which I have).

In 1972, North Electric stopped with the Ericofon line, and sold the remaining parts and equipment to a telephone refurbishing company named CEAC. Which you might remember from my beautiful North Electric Brown phone posting 😉 . They continued production for a short time before going out of business.

Update 18/12/2015:

This week I received my second Touch Tone in another color. It was part of a batch of shells and chassis that I was able to buy, mainly for parts. Most of the shells are not worth working on and in very bad condition. But the Touch Tone was surprisingly in a pretty good shape. Some slight spots, but overall a very nice phone.


In a few days I am expecting a ‘dial face’ and gasket for this one so it will fit in the collection perfectly. It is a Candle Glow. Once it is restored there will be another picture.

Update 29/12/2015:

The dial face came with the mail yesterday and the phone is ready. To restore the gasket I used a reproduction gasket for the rotary version. The gasket for the Touch Tone is slightly different and as you can see it is not a 100% perfect fit.  The original gasket is a bit wider and has an extra part on the front of the phone to match the lining of the hook switch. I doubt if there are any spares left somewhere…







Here are both Touch Tones together: Taj Mahal and a Candle Glow. It was never my intention to collect these models (as it was never the intention to collect the 700’s; my daughters hate those…) but sometimes you need to be flexible ;-).

Update 11/03/2016:

This week I received 2 new Touch Tones. One of them is a Crystal Mint and in good shape. A bit of discoloring on the earpiece, but not too much. The other one, a CEAC painted Brown, came in pieces… at least the famous “red-arch-shaped-button-mechanism” came in pieces. But I seemed to have all the parts and repaired the mechanism as good as I could. One part turned out to be broken but that does not affect the mechanism too much. But it proves that the whole mechanism is vulnarable. Not sure who invented this but it is a very complex up-down moving button.



Here are the 4 Touch Tones in a row. Although the Brown is painted by CEAC and originally Crystal Mint, I will keep it. On the Candle Glow Touch Tone I miss the original rubber gasket. No clue where I can get these…

Wait, Then Return

In the previous post I showed the Norwegian phone I received, with the Oslo specific dial face. It is nice to see it in combination with the, also deviating from the later standard, Telia dial face from Sweden.

The 2 are perfectly in reverse. re-and-verse

I expect that by now I have about 12 different rotary dial faces for the Ericofon. There should be over 20 around.

Most special are the Arabic and the typical Oslo dials.

Most wanted at this moment is the Chinese version. And, does a Cyrillic exist? Not sure.

Did you know that the first patent for a rotary dial was filed by A.B. Strowger on December 21, 1891? The early versions of the rotary dial used lugs on a finger plate instead of the holes as we know them. The rotary dial with finger holes were first introduced in 1904 but did not enter service in the United States until 1919, when AT&T decided to swtich from manual to automatic exchanges. Thinking about push buttons being introduced in the 1980’s on a large scale, the dial face did survive about 70 years of active service.

The New Backwards

This morning I received a very nice surprise in the mail. First I didn’t know what it was but then I realized it was a package from Thor. Since we are both collectors, we have exchanged some models with eachother and now I received ‘something’.


And here is: The New Backwards. A very new looking Mandarin Red shell equiped with a Norwegian Oslo dial face.

Totally in reverse. Only the ‘5’ should be the same in the pulse system 😉 About time for some international standardization I guess.

This one looks great. Thanks Thor!


Here’s the 3rd and last Sinterklaas (or as you wish Christmas) present as promissed. It was not easy to get this one but the result is very, very nice. And that is an understatement 😉

This old case Wedgewood dates back from 1961 and is in perfect shape.


As you can see the dial face is from Telia and has the ‘0’ first instead of last. Which makes this the second of this type that I have. In a previous posting it was shown.

It would be too obvious to make this a Christmas card, I will not do that. But nevertheless, it is a good opportunity to give you my Season’s Greetings.