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Western Electric Model 500 – Is It Really From 1957? #2

We have found a telephone that just might be THE one. The seller tells us by way of his title that the phone is a Western Electric model 500 from 1957. We are shown a few photos. But let’s analyze the first one. The casual eBay user, and first time vintage phone buyer may not know what a 1957 model 500 should look like.
This photo gives the viewer several clues as to the vintage of this telephone. To begin with, in 1957 the handset cords were hard wired. That means they were permanently attached to the telephone, both at the handset and at the phone using internal screws. The hardwired cords are round and thick. Here we see a flat cord that appears to be “plugged” into the handset and the case. But the angle of the photo doesn’t really show how the handset cord is attached for sure. We will have to investigate that further. Modular cords were not put on model 500 telephones until much later than 1957–probably in the mid to late 1960’s.

Secondly I see that the handset appears to be a plastic G3 handset. The later version of the original, heavy Bakelite G1 handset. A G1 never had a modular handset cord attached to it—-the cords on a G1 were always hard wired. Telephones of color had G3 handsets in 1957, but NOT black ones. I’m not real sure about the handset at this point however. A G1 has a distinct groove that runs parallel with the “handle”. But because of the flat cord, I suspect this is a G3. Later black phones, and refurbished black phones had G3 handsets as well. Now let’s look at the feet. We can only really see one of them but it is clearly a round foot pad. I know that round feet were made of plastic. Do I want a phone with plastic feet instead of the leather covered foot pads that were originally on a telephone from 1957?

Large leather covered feet were installed on Western Electric model 500’s through 1958. Once one uses an old phone that has leather feet one will understand the difference. The phone with leather pads seems to hang on to the surface of the desk, making one-handed dialing easy. On a telephone with plastic feet there was no grip-factor. The user has to hold the phone (to keep it from moving) with one hand while dialing with the other. The handset during this process is usually wedged between the shoulder and ear. So why does this 1957 phone have round, plastic feet? I’m beginning to think this phone is not really, completely from 1957. The last clue involves the finger stop. The finger stop is the curved metal piece that stops the finger during dialing. I can see that the finger stop has a support post—and a wide opening in the plastic dial ring. The dial ring is the lettered and numbered ring that surrounds the black metal finger wheel. That is an indication to me that the internal dial is of the 1957 vintage—perhaps a 7C or 7D dial. That is a good point. The later series of dials had plastic gears. They didn’t make that very nice distinct dialing sound that we want from a Vintage Rotary Phone. The number ring associated with the later dials had a very thin opening for the finger stop to slide through. So far the score is bad points 3, good points 1.  The finger wheel itself is black and made of metal. The metal finger wheel is good, but missing from the center of the finger wheel is the retainer ring that held the user’s telephone number. They’re out there in the market place. But we’ll have to spend $10 plus shipping to get one. Bad point. I think this phone was refurbished. Maybe there’s another photo we can examine. Maybe the text of the listing tells us that the phone was originally made in 1957, but was updated with more modern components later. Maybe I don’t want a phone with updated components. Our final score so far, Bad Points 4, Good Points 2.
I’m beginning to wonder—-Is it really from 1957??

Tomorrow we will examine more clues on this phone and some others. Does the seller tell us in his text that this is actually a refurbished telephone? Does the seller really know?

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