It was June 20th, 2010—Father’s Day—when antique telephone enthusiast Dan Vogt and his wife visited a flea market near their Ohio home in search of a Vintage Rotary Phone. Actually the “flea-tique” market was just over the border, in Kentucky. Looking to add something to his telephone collection, Dan and his wife were on the hunt for any type of Vintage Rotary Phone—or anything else cool for that matter. What Dan and his wife found that day was a thrill they may not again experience for some time. After spending about an hour and a half there they were about to leave the flea market when Dan spotted something out of the corner of his eye. Looking closer, Dan said he could feel his heart pounding in his chest at what he thought he was seeing. A rare colored Model 500! Mediterranean Blue, made by Western Electric. This early color was originally produced in 1954 but was discontinued in1957. But that’s not all—this was not “just” a regular model 500, it was a 500 P commonly called a “mushroom” phone because of the mushroom shaped light shade that is above the dial, just above the number “4”. The light illuminates the dial during dialing. ( I wrote an article about my Black “mushroom phone” back in 2008.)
Much like the Princess phone that would be released a few years later, this phone was a bedside phone designed for nighttime use. Once the handset is lifted the light illuminates the dial.
Cautiously Dan turned over the attached price tag, hoping it would remain within his budget. What a Father’s Day this was turning out to be! Before he was able to even view the price written on the tag, the seller offered that he could “do better” on the listed price. The price tag read $45 and Dan got it for less than that amount.
It is not unheard of to find a Mediterranean Blue phone “in the wild”. I found one at an antique fair a couple of years ago. But to find the “mushroom phone” version is really a great discovery. To find one at any price is a rare occurrence. For the most part this phone would sell for considerably more if it were listed today on eBay where phone collectors often browse for those hard to find collectible telephones.
The so-called “mushroom” phones in general sell for more than their non-lighted counter part. Some bring a very high premium. It seems that Black and Pink sets pop up from time to time, but I have never seen another Mediterranean Blue “mushroom phone” in the time that I have been searching for old phones. This was a truly an amazing find for Dan. Still in great condition after all these years. This phone sports an early original dial card from the 317 Area Code. That Area Code is for central Indiana, not too far from where Dan found his prize. Also you will notice the coiled handset cord and line cord are a dark gray color. The color is actually called “neutral gray”. Western Electric did not make matching handset cords in this color–ever. Some other early phones had neutral gray cords too but later a matching cord was produced–like Yellow and Moss Green. But this model was discontinued before a matching cord could be made.
Congratulations Dan on finding this beautiful Vintage Rotary Phone–a great Father’s Day gift!
If you are interested in Vintage Rotary Telephones, please visit my Rotary Phones Forum. Better yet, log in and join the discussions relating to vintage telephones, rotary or otherwise. See you there!