The standard telephone of the (West) German Bundespost was introduced in 1963. Nicknamed der graue Maus (the grey mouse, for the grey version of course) this telephone replaced the W48, which was the standard model since 1940s.
FeTAp stands for FernsprechTischApparat and 61 is its year of introduction, 1961. The wall version is the FeWAp. This phone was developed by Siemens & Halsk, SEL (Standard Electrik Lorenz) and Richard Bosse & Co. The Dutch T65 is very similar to this telephone.
The shape of the body shell is almost the same as that of the Assistent, a development of BTMC and SEL. They did however, just like with so many descendants of the Assistant, add a carrying grip at the rear.
The FeTAp 61 did have different electronics, base plate and dial. The phone was produced by various manufacturers under licence and there a great many versions were produced.
About 20 million were made and for many West Germans it was the very first telephone they ever had. Seeing one, evokes in many the same nostalgia as the T65 does in a Dutchman.
Before 1970 the FeTAp 61 was only available in grey and after that in the colours ochre yellow (ockergelb), salmon red (lachsrot), bright orange (hellrotorange) and fern green (farngrün). Through the years small batches of other colours were made, usually to special order. Unfortunately a red version is hard to find and usually quite pricy.
The most common versions are the 611 (without earthing button) and the 612 (with earthing button). Other variants may have a blinker, switching equipment or a built in cost counter, the 3rd digit indicating the specific version.
Like I said a red one is really hard to find, but I did manage to find a transparent one. Other than the T65, of which a transparent version was offered to the general public, the transparent FeTAp 61 was only produced in very small number. I was used as a demonstration model and for educational purposes.
Strong resemblance to the T65, plagiarism?
The resemblance to the T65 is striking. Especially the body shell of the FeTAp 61 and that of the T65 are so much alike, that it is hard to discern the one from the other. Many collectors have mistaken the T65 for the FeTAp 61 and vice versa. Even me: I once thought I was picking up 2 T65s, that somebody offered me. Only when I saw them in real life I realised they were actually FeTAp 61s.
In this period many plastic telephones were introduced. Almost every western country had its own model. France had the S63, Switserland the Tischstation Modell 70, Sweden the Dialog, and so on, and all of them looked a bit similar.
However the FeTAp 61 and the T65 are rather more than a bit similar. And apparently in some form comments were made, because PTT felt it necessary to explain in their book on 100 years of telephony from 1981 there was really no plagiarism and again in a small book on telephone design in the late 1980s. Whether there real accusations of plagiarism, who made these and in what form is not clear to me and despite my best efforts I have not been able to find additional information regarding this matter.
In my collection
This is one of these models that, despite the fact that it does not really fit my collection, still keeps finding is way to my telephone room. I was once given an orange specimen, in a bad condition, later I bought a couple of boxes with telephones, among which was that transparent one. And finally, at the time I am writing this, I was also given 2 grey specimen. Of course it is great to have such a classic model and be able to inspect it up close. They came in very handy for writing this article, as there really should be an article on this great classic on my website. Nevertheless I will try to find another good home for these telephone. I will however keep my eyes peeled for a red specimen.