One of the nicest US telephones, in my opinion, as it is not as rectangular as its American contemporaries. The red bar, or redbar, has a nicely curved body shell, combined with a similar handset. The nickname is derived from the distinctive red bar in the handset cradle, which activates the hookswitch. The phones design reminds me of the aerodynamic shapes of aircraft and cars from the same era. This model was first introduced in 1947.
Aside from its flowing lines, it explores a few innovative engineering features. That and the distinctive red bar that gives it its nickname makes it a must have classic for the serious telephone collector.
As it was not used by the Bell system, but only by smaller independent telephone companies and on private installation it is not as common as Western Electric telephones like the 302.
Design and construction
Arriving relatively late at the scene as a compact, autonomous (so not needing a subset) phone with a modern dog and bone lay out stood out from contemporary US designs. Kellogg apparently chose for a design that did not resemble the very influential WE302, where others did. Instead they opted for a swept back, rounded more flowing design, reminiscent of the streamline designs by Raymond Loewe.
But not only the outside was different, the inside is unique as well. All electric components are held in small bakelite modules. Also Kellogg dispensed with the wiring loom, and connected all components with brackets and screws by mounting them on a one piece block with all the connections moulded in. The terminals for the line and handset cord are clearly marked with their function so together with that modular design modification and maintenance in the field were extremely easy.
Finding my Masterphone
It was on my wish list for quite a while, when I happened to be able to buy 2 of them within a short period. That was unexpected, because these phones hardly ever show up in the Netherlands. They were used mostly in the USA and as far as I know never exported to Europe. They were not used on the Bell system, but some independent telephone companies did used them and they were also used on private installations. Having one shipped to the Netherlands from the USA is quite expensive. Aside from that spare parts are hard to find here too, so when buying one from overseas, you have to be sure it’s a good one: working, complete and original.
So I decided to wait until some opportunity would present itself, which it did when I was able to buy a number of phones from another collector. Among those was a complete, but battered and cracked redbar. It was litterally from a barn. It would need a thorough restoration, but a nice find nevertheless. It was a so called select 0 phone which, unfortunately, cannot be used on the public telephone network, due to the different dialling system it used.
So there I was, happy with my find, when a couple of week later I had the opportunity to buy another one. This time it was the common version and in very good condition too. It was very reasonably priced too and to my delight it can actually be used on the modern telephone network too. Provided the line supports pulse dialling, of course.