This model is one of my all-time favorite telephones. Because it was far ahead of its time, people underestimate its age. Also I think it does not get the appreciation it deserves.
I try to collect as many different versions of it (with a rotary dial), as I can. At least the ones that were in use here in the Netherlands. I also collect an example of every telephone that drew its inspiration or that was based on this design. They were used by the Rotterdam city telephone company (Plaatselijke telefoondienst Rotterdam), in the late 30s, Rotterdam being a typical Ericsson city, and later by the Amsterdam city telephone company (Gemeentetelefoon Amsterdam) and PTT used them too. They were especially bought just after World War 2, when PTT had to rebuild large parts of its network. By then this model was even produced in the Netherlands, at the Ericsson factory in Rijen.
The very first integrated phone, fully made of bakelite. A ground breaking design, not only incorporating the dial into the housing but the cradle as well. And made of the relatively new wonder material: bakelite.
A lot is written about this telephone already and I do not have any new insights or revelations on its origins, development and history. There is a nice article on this telephone on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ericsson_DBH_1001_telephone
And of course there is the history website of Ericsson itself with lots of information and pictures:
Name: what to call this model?
Often it is called by its catalogue number DBH1001. The problem with that is that it is according to the later catalogue system which was only introduced in the mid-1930s. In its year of introduction it would have been called DE702, for the version with the terminal box and DE704 for the version with the 3 pronged Ericsson plug.
And that last bit further illustrates the problem with these catalogue numbers: they are for very specific versions of this telephone, with certain electrical components, a certain line and handset cord, in black bakelite, with a certain means of connecting it to the telephone network at the end of the line cord. Changing one of these components would result in a different catalogue number.
Ericsson themselves seem to call it simple the Bakelite Telephone., if the articles on their history website are anything to go by. But that is a far to generic name, to be very practical.
The Wikipedia article mentions M33, which is a designation used by Telegrafverket in Sweden. The M stands for Model and 33 for 1933 , the year it was introduced to the Swedish telephone network.. But this is a purely Telegrafverket designation and the model itself was introduced in 1931, not 1933.
And there is the Dutch PTT which called it the type 1947 and type 1949. I do not know which designation was used by the Gemeentetelefoon Amsterdam or the Plaatselijke telefoondienst Rotterdam before that.
So, all in all, these are not very practical names for this whole family. They only apply to very specific models, versions or countries.
I usually call them Ericsson (model) 1931’s.
Conquering the world
What I find the most fascinating about this telephone is that it influenced many other designs and inspired a lot of other models, who in turn were often also very succesfull and produced in huge numbers.
One of the first ones was the British 300 series telephone. It used the exact same body shell, albeit with different openings for cords and fixtures. It was produced for decades in the UK, exported all over the world and was also produced in other Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zeeland.
Henri Dreyfuss, the famous industrial designer, drew a lot of inspiriation from the model 1931 when designing his iconic Western Electric 302. This revolutionary telephone was the mainstay of the Bell System network for a number of decades and millions its many variants were manufactured.
The Western Electric 302 was, indirectly, the basis for the Standard Electric type 1954 from the Netherlands.
One of the standard Sovjet telephones was the BAGTA 50. Originally designed in Latvia, in the 1930s, it was taken over by the USSR after Latvia was annexed. The resemblance is clear, although the inside is very much different.
And of course there is the unforgettable French U43. When the French Ericsson company was asked to design a new standard telephone for the French national network, it is no surprise they drew inspiration from the model 1931.
And last but not least, there is my mystery phone. Made in Brno in modern Slovenia, it was part of the German Empire when it was designed and made. It bears close relations to Fuld/T&N telephones and shares a lot of components with the Maingau 34. The outside seems to be a mix between the Maingau and the Ericsson 1931. I call it my mystery phone, as I have not determined yet who made it and why.
I have no doubt there are more telephones which drew their inspiration from the model 1931 and I will add them to this article as I discover more of them. But with this list above, there is hardly any country in the world where a model 1931 or one of its brothers, nephews and other family members cannot be found. Perhaps this is the only (landline) telephone in the world for which that can be said.