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VIENNA’S SKELETAL TELEPHONES


Known as the VIENNA QUADS


by Jum Bateman

My wife June and I have one serious hobby and that is travelling, and our favourite destination is Vienna.

Like a pilgrimage made long ago after funds and attractions have been exhausted, we return again and again. We stay in a little Pensionne in Windmill Strasse which runs parallel to Maria Haife Strasse, one of Vienna’s main shopping streets in the museum district. Our little Pensionne, Quisisana, is modest, cheap and includes a delightful “turret” room overlooking the steps to the Natches Market which becomes an antique market on Saturdays. Indeed, we have, over the years, seen the management pass to the grandson of our original hosts, Moma and Popa, who we remember with great affection.


I have read a good deal about pre war Vienna when the opera, theatres, cabarets and coffee palaces were coloured by people from all over Europe including a large Jewish population. I compare Vienna now with pre war descriptions related by my step father who was Jewish and visited the city pre-war. There is, of course, no one true Vienna, especially as it once was, because, like everywhere, it is constantly changing. But if you love nostalgia, visit at least one coffee palace and order a long black while watching the passing parade and musing about a time before jack boots were heard in the cobbled streets.

After the war, the city was rebuilt where it was damaged, perhaps more splendidly than before. But the damage was not only physical - when Herr Hitler annexed Austria, part of Vienna’s spirit changed also. Yet the bones of Vienna, its music, its built past, its splendid parks and walks, its restaurants, inns and drinking halts are all still there. People from all over the world now make it live again.


June and I walk a lot in Vienna. I go to the Doratheum when I first arrive. This is a large auction house whose home is literally in one of the old palaces. The Doratheum has a large furniture hall and separate galleries for things like stamps, militaria, paintings, jewelry, art-deco, scientific instruments, etc. It was here I saw my first Vienna Quad, a skeletal telephone so called because it has four legs (or magnets) in lieu of the conventional two. These telephones were used throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or what was left of it by the 1890’s. They were certainly used in Budapest and Bratislava where I have seen them. They were used in the old Poland and Cheko-Slovakia and throughout Hungary. They have a number of distinctive features in common, including the metal deck and tower, four legs or magnets and a solid gear wheel. There are a number of models to look for as follows....

Fig. 1 - LIEBON
Cradle similar to Ericsson.
Cradle low set.
Both cords to rear.
No spinner.


Fig. 2 - KAPSCH and SOHNE
Transverse cradle.
Plain high cradle.
Both cords to rear.
No spinner.

Fig 3 - probably LIEBON
Sold at Doretheum for AU$900 in 2003.
Conventional cradle setting.
High set cradle similar to Ericsson.
Both cords to rear.
No spinner.

Fig. 4 - Turkish Export Type
Conventional cradle setting.
High set cradle similar to Ericsson.
Line cord to rear.
Receiver cord to side, terminals on deck.
With spinner.

Fig. 5 - SCHWENKARM Model
A derivation of Ericsson swingarm.
Double sconce transmitter in lieu of the early Ericsson sconce.
With spinner.

Fig. 6 - BOX MAGNETO
Successor to Quad but still retains metal tower and solid gear wheel and similar cradle.
Photographed at Natches market.
Four magnet generator.

Fig. 7 - BOX MAGNETO
Showing adherence to original magnets.

Vienna also has its own version of the triple box telephone which runs horizontally rather than vertically. There are a number of versions of these too, but that’s another story.

Jim Bateman


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