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Mahogany Western Electric Model 500

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Nearly two years ago I wrote an article about a pair of Mahogany telephones made by Western Electric. About a year later I was lucky enough to come upon another example of this color—one that is not commonly found in a set of this vintage.

From my collection is this brown (Mahogany) Model 500 made by Western Electric.

1957 Mahogany Western Electric

The first of the plastic color Model 500’s were made in 1953.  Those colors were Ivory, Moss Green, Dark Gray (Oxford Gray) and Cherry Red.  In 1954 colors that were introduced were Mediterranean Blue, Pastel Yellow, Dark Beige (Rose Beige) and Mahogany.  These brown sets were discontinued in 1957, making a very short run of three years for this color.  A while ago I came upon an example of a Mahogany Western Electric that had lived a rough life.  Come with me as I take you along on my journey to refurbish this great piece of American history.One winter night I was sent a link to a Craiglist telephone that the sender thought I may be interested in seeing.  This e-mail was from a passing telephone contact that I had met via eBay.  I almost deleted the contact without looking.  The sender had sent me dozens of phone links and most were things of absolutely no interest.  But I decided to take a look.

Photo Posted on Craigslist

The Ad simply said “brown phone” and “Western Electric”.  I took a look at the small photo and decided I’d take a shot in the dark.  I contacted the seller and a deal was struck.  She agreed to ship the phone to me from Maine.

I had to mail funds and it seemed like forever before the phone finally arrived.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was in fact a Mahogany, soft plastic Western Electric Model 500.  It was pretty rough, with one deep scratch but there were no cracks or breaks in the plastic.  With a little work this COULD become a very nice piece of Americana.

5 responses to “Mahogany Western Electric Model 500”

Beautiful Dennis! I wish I had the nerve like you do to take the dials apart. I just lube them. The scratch removal was fantastic

Thank you, Dan for the compliment. This project was a challenge but one that I very much enjoyed. It once again proves that something (in this case an old brown telephone) that was destined for a landfill can be made to look nearly new again.

Believe me, I held my breath the first couple of times I disassembled one of those dials. By the time I advanced myself to that step I had accumulated a few spares and used them as models in case parts went flying. To me the cleaning of the dial mechanism like I show in this album is as satisfying as refurbishing the rest of the phone. It’s really not that difficult. If I can do it, anyone can!
Thanks again for your comments.

Dennis, I have several older phones that I need to bring the original color back. Powder blue is now aqua. Do you have any advice please. I also would like to know haw you got the chocolate brown finish so shiny and new looking. I have several brown phones we use here at the house and they look pretty rough, lol

I really enjoyed watching the album. Very nice feature that you have added to your website.

Keep up the good job!


Thank you Jorge. I’m glad that you enjoyed watching the slide show. The program is integrated with Google’s Picasa web album. It enhances the viewing of the albums.

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