It is rare and one of the most sought after telephones for Dutch telephone collectors: the black T65. Very few were made and there is very little information on them.
When I started searching for some more information about it, only a few sites mentioned it. As there are many T65 collectors, because of their availability and many colours, the black T65 is very much in demand. For many collectors owning a black T65 remains a dream.
A discussion with a young collector set me off on a search for more info about it. His next door neighbour had worked for PTT and maintained that the black T65 did not exist, that it was not an original PTT-model and it was produced outside of the Netherlands.
Trying to prove that wrong, and because I had an incomplete one that I wanted to restore, I went in search of more information about it and could find almost nothing. Just a few pictures on websites, but really no additional information. So the question was, where did it come from? And when was it made?
What does the black T65 tell me?
In 2008 or there about I acquired my first specimen. It was incomplete, unfortunately. It had a wrong base plate of a different version of the T65, the SE65. It’s earthing button (what? what does that button actually do?) was missing, as was the ring that surrounded it.
I did have the black body shell and handset, but what I needed was the correct base plate and insides.
The base plate is a standard part, so that would not be a problem, but getting the correct stickers would be a tricky. So I asked other collectors to send me pictures of the stickers on their black T65. As it turns out, all had the exact same stickers with a production date of august 1986. Later I bought another specimen, which had a different sticker.
It was handwritten and had a production date of march 1986, as you can see in the picture on the left.
These stickers also told me they were made by CWP, Centrale Werkplaats der PTT. This was the central repair and refurbishing department of PTT. This was an eye opener, as I had the impression that they were made in the late 70s.
And finally I learned from these pictures and my own specimen that they only the body shell was newly made and the inside and base plate were refurbished parts and could be of various production dates and manufacturers.
Through the years I have accumulated several original PTT documents regarding telephones. Technical documents, but also internal magazines, brochures, catalogues, etc. None of them mention the black T65.
Knowing the production date for most of them, if not all, being august 1986, I checked the telephone books for 1985, 86 and 87 which contain pictures and lists of the telephones on offer by PTT for that year. And none of them mention the black T65.
That made me wonder if it was not a special production run, for experimental, promotional or commemorative reasons. Even perhaps a custom job for a third party.
Dead end, putting the word out
So, after all that the trail basically went cold. I had no more leads, not even after consulting a few other collectors. I wrote everything, including my thoughts, guesses and speculations, in an article and put it on my website in February 2014. Here is a link to that article, but it is only available in Dutch, I’m afraid. I hoped somebody may chime in with additional information.
And about once every year somebody did. But all they had were mainly wild speculations, ranging from claims that it was an illegal production run by employees, a special job for a funeral director, to a fake Asian copy.
That is, until Remco Enthoven sent me an email.
Remco is a well-known Dutch collector, who had his own telephone museum in the Netherlands. He still has his website. He now lives in the USA where he is the curator of the JKL Telephone museum. He emailed me that he had a PTT catalogue which mentioned the T65 in black.
When I heard he was coming to the Netherlands for a couple of weeks, I contacted him and asked if I could borrow the catalogue, to make a scan, or if he could scan it for me. Instead he came round for a visit and showed me the catalogue and send me scans of it. Remco also scanned the 1984 and 1986 versions of the same catalogue. These do not list the black T65 anymore.
So proof at last! The black T65 was offered to the general public by PTT after all, albeit for a very short period.
The catalogue in question was for the Primafoonwinkel, Primafoon shop. PTT had Primafoon shops where they sold telephones and other equipment.
So, it was only offered in 1985 for a very short while. We have documentation to prove it. Everybody happy and we can get on with our lives.
Well yes, of course. Although there is still something very strange. I have owned 3 black T65s. I have inspected several black T65 of other collectors. And I have scrutinized pictures of black T65s offer for sale on the internet. All of those were made in august 1986. None of them were made in 1985.
So, it was listed in 1985 but produced in 1986? Of course it may very well be that I just have not seen any black T65s that were produced before 1986. I assume some were made before they were offered in the PTT catalogue. But why produce them, when they are no longer offer to the general public?
At least we know the black T65 was just one of the coloured T65s offer to their subscribers by PTT and not a special project for promotional purposes or a custom job for a customer or some other reason. But I still can’t quite close the book on this. Clear answers remain elusive, just like the black T65 itself.