Back in May of this year I was contacted by a gentleman in the San Francisco area. He told me that he had been holding on to a telephone that once belonged to his grandmother. The phone had been sitting in a closet for twenty-five years, since he purchased it from the Telephone Company after his grandmother passed. Jim wrote in part, “My Grandmother loved to talk on the telephone and many of my fondest memories are of her sitting in her big chair talking on it. I believe the phone is a Western Electric Model 202 from 1930-1937.”
Jim asked if I could refurbish the phone and agreed to e-mail me photographs. I told him that I was sure I could help and the phone was soon headed east.This is one of the photos that Jim e-mailed to me. Attached to the ringer box was a smaller box with a switch on the top. It was unfamiliar to me but I guessed that it either switched to a second phone line or was used to switch the ringer on and off. It looks like there were several coats of paint after all these years. I had my work cut out for me—but it looked like it was going to be a fun project.When the phone arrived, as I always do I photographed it as I removed it from the box. I was trying to determine a date. The subscriber set, or “ringer box” as they’re more commonly called appeared to be from around 1912. The telephone, with the round B1 body was probably from the early 1930’s however I could not locate a date. The early E1 handset did have some dates on it from 1934. The phone underwent some refurbishing in 1949 as the dial was replaced with a 5H dial dated from that year. This phone began its life in Rensselaer, NY and had a HObart exchange.
Take a moment or two and follow along via my web album where I show step-by-step the process that transformed this telephone into a beautiful Vintage Rotary Phone that is now being used daily. There were some trying moments as I had problems with a loud annoying “dial click” that could be heard in the receiver during dialing.
Just click the image below of the finished product to view the album. There is text under each photo that will explain the transition.
I would like to thank telephone collector Bill Geurts of Telephone Collectors International for all of his help in solving the technical aspects of problems I experienced during the restoration process. Bill is also a member of Classic Rotary Phones Forum. Postings about this phone and his technical assistance can be seen here.
Thank you Jim for the opportunity to work on this treasured heirloom!