Western Electric "Eiffel Tower"

When the Bell company moved into Europe they were confronted with a range of local phones that made the American phones look quite old-fashioned. In particular, they had to compete with Ericsson's new AC100 "Skeletal" phone, which had a handset instead of the U.S. - style separate transmitter and receiver. This phone was their response.

Initially it was built by the Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company at their new factory in Antwerp, and it was later built in Britain at Western Electric's new factory at Woolwich. My example is one of these British phones. Many were sold into Britain and the British colonies. British thinking at the time was that if you sold it in Britain, you had better build it there as well. Many other countries had similar nationalistic feelings.

Australian colonial administrations also bought these phones. Mine is stamped with a GR stamp (Government Railways?). It is incomplete at present - I am looking for the bells and standoffs and a terminal strip. The bells were mounted underneath in the Ericsson style. Most of these are found with Ericsson handsets fitted. The Western Electric transmitters don't seem to have been too reliable. This one, however, still has the original "deluxe" handset which is moulded with elaborate scrollwork.

 

You can also see in the photo the brightly colored decals in red and gold - the phone was rather brightly finished..

The phone was not sold in the U.S.A. Western Electric soon replaced it in Europe with the "tin box" style of phone which enclosed the workings and required less finishing. In the U.S. they preferred the candlestick phones. As a result, the phone is not particularly common. There are conflicting model numbers for it.

As well as Britain and its colonies, the phone is known from Spain and South America.

 

 

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