First coloured GPO 162s

Thanks to Laurence Rudolf for the extensive underlying research…

1930 – GPO considers 162 samples in 8 different colours

1. Old Gold (Laquer on black phone)

2. Oxidised Silver (Laquer on black phone)

3. Ivory (presumably a Bakelite moulding)

4. Mahogany (solid reddish-brown, Bakelite moulding) as shown below

5. Green (dark green, Bakelite moulding) see 1932 phone in this material below

6. Chinese Red (Unknown material – possibly an early acrylic as per the 1933 example below)

7. Blue (Unseen and unheard of in modern times)

8. One other mystery colour not specified in the GPO correspondence, possibly a black phone with an ivory coating

In November 1930, the GPO commissioned the production of 200 ivory, old gold, oxidised silver and mahogany 162s with other colours not stocked to be “provided as required”.  The GPO also  decided to try to develop a jade green variant.

1931 to 1933 – Production of early colour range

In 1931, jade green and walnut (otherwise known by collectors as mottled brown) were added to the GPO’s standard colour range.

There is no mention of the Mahogany variant in the GPO’s 1931 “Rate Book” and it is unclear whether the originally ordered 200 Mahogany phones were ever produced.  Perhaps the colour shifted to “Walnut” as a result of differences arising in the manufacturing process.

Thus, the GPO colour range in this period was:

1. Old Gold (Laquer on black phone)

2. Oxidised silver (Laquer on black phone)

3. Ivory (Urea resin moulding by 1933, Bakelite moulding possibly used for 1931-32)

4. Walnut (Bakelite moulding)

5. Jade green (Available as an applied colour finish on a dark green Bakelite moulding)

It is possible that special orders of other colours were available during this period.  Possible examples being the 1932 green and 1933 red pictured below.

A January 1933 GPO letter reports that arrangements were in place for the supply of phones combined with No 25 bellsets for colours 1 to 4 above but that “difficulty was being experienced” as regards Jade Green.

1934 onwards – GPO transitions to 3 standard colours, all in urea resin

By 1934, a urea resin version of the Jade Green 162 had replaced the colour finish on Bakelite version and a urea resin Chinese Red 162 had been introduced.

By late 1934,  a decision was taken by the GPO to stock only three standard coloured phones and bellsets: Jade Green, Chinese Red and Ivory, and production of Old Gold, Oxidised Silver and Walnut phones and bellsets ceased.  However, it was decided that non-standard colours (including Old Gold, Oxidised Silver and Walnut) would be available by special order (at an extra cost!).

From late 1934 to late 1935, colour matched urea resin dials and silver handset cords were supplied as standard with the green, red and ivory phones.  Stainless steel dials and colour matched cords were, however, available on request at this time, and became the standard from late 1935 onwards.

In 1938-39 only, Diakon material coloured wall brackets (telephone number 14 brackets) were also available in Jade Green, Chinese Red and Ivory.

From what we have seen, most Walnut phones which survive today are FH34.  GPO No 25 Walnut bellsets were only produced during 1933-34 and only two are known to survive today.

First GPO 162s

Mahogany Bakelite 1930 GPO 162

1930 Mahogany GPO 162 – thought to be the original mahogany sample made by Siemens for the GPO.

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Dark Green Bakelite 1932 GPO 162

A very rare Dark Green 1932 Bakelite 162 made in the same material as the original 1930 GPO 162 Green sample. Either a special order or a production item that originally came with a Jade Green coating.

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Chinese Red “Tupperware” 1933 GPO 162

1933 early Chinese Red GPO 162, thought to be made in the same early acrylic material as the original 1930 GPO sample Chinese Red 162 considered by the GPO in 1930. Owner describes the material as similar feeling like Tupperware.

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Old Gold 1931 GPO 162

Rare 1931 GPO 162 Old Gold (laquer on black phone). On display at the Amberly Museum.

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Old Gold 1931 GPO 162 (King George V Phone)

Rare Old Gold 1931 GPO 162 (King George V Phone). On display at the Museum of London.

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First non-GPO pyramids

Mahogany 1930 GECophone (not Gleneagles)

This predates the 1933 Gleneagles gecophones.   Bears the hallmarks of the earliest phones, including metal plunger & internals, & metal lined hole for dial. Has a very rare early nickel plated metal dial blank (the only example that I have seen).

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