That moment when you see an object and you just know that if you do not get it, it will keep gnawing at you forever? You just know it is going to be “the one that got away”. Well, I had that experience last march, when I visited a radio flea market. I spotted this little wow-object. Not only a very nice object or just interesting or rare, but also something that taught me something new!
Unfortunately I was not able to buy it initially, but I was able to take some pictures for future reference and for the blog I wrote about my visit to that flea market. I never thought I would see the thing again, until the postman arrived at the door today.
What is it?
Basically it is a paper weight. It is made of a nice old N30 dial, made before WW2. The dial has been cast in a clear acrylic resin. The dial itself is a classic and worth something. This type of dail was used in the Netherlands from the late 20s to the late 30s and reemerged after the war on several telephone models, mainly those made by HEEMAF. It was of course used on Siemens & Halske import telephones, but also on the Heemaf type 1931. Heemaf did not produce these dials themselves, but bought them from S&H. After HEEMAF stopped using them on their type 1938 in favour of the NrS 38, which they produced themselves, it was again used some, but not all, of their Norm 51 models. Having such a dial as a paper weight I think is very nice indeed. And this one is marked with the logo of CWP on the metal disc in the center of the dial. That makes it really special. I had never seen that before.
About CWP, Centrale Werkplaats der PTT
CWP was the Central Maintenance and technical works of PTT, the Dutch telephone authority. It originated in 1915 and for its entire existence it was situated at the Binkhorst in the Hague. PTT did their maintenance there, produced technical devices like measuring instruments, refurbished equipment, manufactured parts and later on even produced complete telephones. The T65 “Delft” and the super rare black T65 were produced there in the middle of the 80s.
I did not buy it
Of course when I saw it I enquired after the price. The seller said he wanted 70 euros for it. Way too much for my budget and even if I did have the money, it was not worth that much to me. At the time my telephone fund was somewhat depleted and I wanted to save the money I had for an actual phone or part that I could not let pass, if one presented itself. And the acrylic was cracked because of a fall. Not very prominent damage, but it was there nevertheless. I asked if the seller could do something about the price, but he was quite adamant that somebody somewhere was willing to pay his price and he was willing to wait for that. It seemed to me that we were never going to agree on a price, so I left it at that. The seller did allow me to take some pictures, though. And the gnawing began……
The gnawing began and it ended
So, I went home without it, intrigued by this item, but not too disappointed as I had a lovely day and did acquire a modest loot of other things. Still there was a small twang of regret for not buying it. And in the days after the flea market it remained, especially because I wrote a blog about my visit, which kept reminding me of that paper weight. And suddenly, after a few weeks an ad appeared on marktplaats (a kind of ebay here in Holland) with that same paper weight. I recognised it immediately, it being such a unique item and because it had that same crack. Initially no price was given and I still did not have any money to buy it until a few weeks before our vacation. I had sold some telephone stuff so I decided to treat myself. I checked out the ad and to my pleasant surprise there were no bids and there was now an asking price of € 25! I was willing to pay that, no problem. So I contacted the seller and announced I wanted to buy it for the price he asked and enquired after the shipping costs. He came back stating he would send it for free, probably happy he sold it after all.
So what does this paper weight teach me?
I initially thought it was produced by CWP, as they put their logo on the front. That would have been revealing, as I did not know they already made dials in the 30s instead of just refurbish them. Not that I own it, I could examine it in detail at my leisure. It turns out there are makers marks on the components on the back of the dial. However, they are not all of the same manufacturer. There are several Siemens & Halske marks, which was to be expected, as most of the German equipment used by PTT was made by S&H. But the brass center gear has an MT mark, for Merk Telefonbau, click on picture on the left tp see the details. So it is of mixed origin. Does that indicate they just assembled dials and ordered the parts in Germany? Or does it indicate the dial was repaired?
In any case the dial looks unused and brand new. I did, however, took a closer look at other dials I had of this design. As to be expected most of them had an S&H logo on that same main gear, click on picture on the right to see the details. I did not find any with a gear from another manufacturer, except one. And that one had that gear also made by Merk Telefonbau. This suggests S&H used that Merk Telefonbau gear and it was not put on by CWP, for whatever reason.
This does not tell me why CWP made a presse papier of this dial. Was it a one off? Did they make it as a gift for somebody in particular? Was it made to celebrate some kind of mile stone? As there is no writing on it, it is anybody’s guess at the moment. But all in all it is a great item to have. And a bargain too. All good things come to those who wait.