British Ericsson Wall Phones
The Swedish factory was having trouble supplying enough parts to keep up with the demand. With an eye to the future, LME decided to set up a factory in Britain and to establish it as a joint venture with National . This gave the company a British flavour which stood it well in the future. The factory mass-produced telephones and components, switchboards, and even racecourse totalizers. One particular phone from British Ericsson was used in Australia in large numbers, their N2500 model. It gave reliable service from the end of the First World War until the last ones were taken out of service in the late 1980s, and many have since been refurbished and given a new life as working antiques.
The case is a plain oak box, 240mmm X 400mm X 150mm deep. The backboard has no outside screwholes or terminals. A pair of bells is mounted at the top of the front panel rather than on top of the case, and a writing slope is at the bottom. Timber is walnut or "matt polished oak" which appears to be a cellulose lacquer. The metalwork is finished in "antique bronze", which is an oxidised brass finish. The finish is also listed in the catalogues under other names. Transmitters came in three models. The first was the small brass "barrel" transmitter on a short pressed steel swivel mount (PMG type 35MW, 1916) shown at left. Phones of this model in original condition are still surprisingly easy to find.
This was soon upgraded to the bigger solid back transmitter (PMG type 135MW, Ericsson model N2500). The mount was changed to a simpler stamped and folded metal mount. The change of transmitter does not appear to have been for any serious technical reason, but more because the Solid Back transmitter was now the standard production model. Note also the "Ericsson England" transfer. This and a Beeston "sunburst" transfer were used for some time, but they suffered from flaking and were usually replaced with a "Commonwealth of Australia" nameplate whenever the phones were refurbished.
A later upgrade saw the Solid Back transmitter replaced with the new bakelite Inset transmitter. The phone shown at left, although it has the new transmitter, has obviously been refurbished from an older model as it still has the decorative Ericsson mount. Note also that it is in the rarer oak timber, and has a wooden plug fitted over a dial cutout. The dial cutouts seem to have appeared early in the range, but they were rarely used for conversions. The Australian Post Office policy was that when a phone was replaced as part of an Automatic upgrade to the exchange, the phones should be replaced with the current standard model. In practice this meant a bakelite phone was usually installed. There were some conversions where the phone was upgraded to auto and the generator retained for party line signalling. Most phones fitted with a dial , however, are later conversions for the antique market. The genuine conversions were given the model number 765AW.
By this point most phones were being delivered or refurbished in a dark varnish. The oxidised brass parts were simply repainted in black enamel.
In a final PMG conversion, Type 235MWH, a 300-series handset was fitted on a modified
switchhook at the side. This meant that the transmitter holes on the front panel
had to be covered with a "How to Use" notice. This example is missing
the note clip that was fitted to the writing slope.
Similar styled phones have been noted from US makers, and from Sterling in the UK. The US phones usually differ in size, being a few centimetres taller, but the Sterling is a very close copy. Its main difference is in the shape of the corners, and its electrical fittings. The door has more squared-off corners than the Ericsson, and the sides are 118mm deep against the Ericsson's 113mm. The generator is a 3-bar model with cast end plates. For further details, see ATCS Newsletter January 1998.