Australian Post Office 400 Auto Table Handset.

These phones, in Auto, CB and Magneto, were the mainstay of the Australian phone system from the 1950s to the 1970s when the new plastic 800 series was finally introduced. As usual for this time, they were based on a British Post Office design, the 332, modified by the Australian Post Office from their earlier 300 series. Initially they were built in Britain by a number of firms such as Ericssons, STC and GEC, but gradually some manufacture moved to Australia to start off Australia's telephone industry. By the time the 400 production finished, it was all being built locally except the dial.

The phones, being bakelite, were solid and well built. Black was the most common color.The ivory model was found to turn a dirty yellow in the strong Australian sunlight, but it was still made available in limited numbers and for an extra cost. In the earlier 300 series red and green were optional colors, but they were dropped for the 400 series due to the fading problem.

Renovation and reconditioning was carried out in Australia and many phones had been refurbished two or three times before they were finally withdrawn. Mine is a typical example of the range - somewhat scuffed, the inevitable paint spots, and missing the dial centre number insert. It was built in the early 1950s by GEC in Britain. I am not sure of the exact year, as the transfer has suffered some damage. In spite of its age, it still works and I used it in my home until recently when the bell failed.

 

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