Siemens & Halske were not the earliest manufacturer with their first full bakelite telephone, as the Modell 36 was introduced in 1936. It was developed at the request of the German Reichspost as the successor of the W28, requiring it to be more “reparaturfreundlicher“ (repair friendly, easy maintanance) and „kostengünstiger“ (economical).
It is often wrongly referred to as W36, but as it was never accepted by the Reichspost, who used the W for their phones, combined with the year of introduction. The correct Siemens & Halske name is Fg tist 166 or Modell 36.
Even though it was not accepted, it remained in production for almost 2 decades and was quite successful as an export product. Here in the Netherlands I have found quite a number of variants of this model.
The Reichspost wanted a number of modifications to its design, which lead to the W38. The W38 looks similar in shape, but is quite different. The W38 in turn lead to the ubiquitous W48, the classic West-German telephone and the W38/58 (?) in East-Germany.
It does not seem to have a wall version and certainly Siemens & Halske never presented their bakelite wall phones as such. There is however a bakelite wall phone that can be considered as the wall version of this model, as it was made during the same period, has the same styling and shares many parts. See this one <link>
Development & characteristics
Already testing new materials, designs and production methods since 1934, S&H was able to quickly produce a design for a new telephone, when the Reichspost requested them. Siemens & Halske presented their new design at the Spring Fair in Leipzig in 1936.
This new model had an all bakelite body shell, a newly designed handset, and new electronics with better noise reduction. All components were placed on a metal base plate, for easy maintenance and repair. The line cord exited on left rear side and the handset cord on the left side of the telephone. It came with a cloth covered braided cord, as can be seen in the first picture.
Initial models had the NS30 dial, which was also used on the W28, complete with mechanical dial lock. The Modell 36 dials had a black number ring with white numbers, instead of the white number ring with black numbers that was used on the W28. It also had different black centre screw with ring.
Later models had the all bakelite NrS38 dial, which was developed for the W38.
The flowing shape of the body shell was based on that of the W28. It is quite distinctive, as it has no sharp edges and very clean lines. It has a number card window at the front and a separate moving cradle with rather large ears to accommodate the handset.
The newly designed all bakelite handset had a characteristic droop. It had a small pointed speaking tube, which was fastened with a separate bakelite ring. The ring matched the style of the receiver cap and both had a bevelled edge.
This handset design was also used on the W38 and W48 models. Early versions of this handset had a longer neck at the transmitter end. See picture for comparison.
Typical for the Modell 36 is that the base plate does not recess into the body shell and that its sides are at right angles to the base, where as the body shells of the W38 and W48 are slightly sloping.
A quote from the sales leaflet has this to say about the W36 (not translated by me):
Further advantages of the Model 36
The shape of the new telephone handset was developed as a result thousands of head measurements. Microphone and telephone are positioned optimally between the mouth and ear. The new telephone handset was shortened somewhat and has a greater curvature. The handle is triangular in section and sits comfortably in the hand. This new design gives no user fatigue, even in long conversations.
New cradle rest and dial
The cradle rest improves reliable operation by positively guiding the handset into place. The dial is angled at a steeper angle for increased comfort and improved legibility of the numbers.
Excellent stability even on smooth surfaces, is achieved by a good weight distribution and the positioning of the rubber feet.
On request we can supply the new telephone with a flexible cord, which is only half the normal length but readily stretches to twice its initial length.
The Modell 36 was made in several different countries and not only by S&H. As it was made for private installations, it had many customers, often with their own demands. This lead to many slightly different versions, starting with ones that do and ones that do not have an earthing button.
There is an Italian version and a Belgian version, which is made of Zamac instead of bakelite. This Zamac version has a decal saying Siemens Bruxelles, although there is some doubt whether it was actually produced there.
There were also 2 versions produced by BTMC in Antwerp, for Dutch PTT. The first one is called a BASA and the other BASA Norm 51.
I also acquired one used by the Dutch police, called a TT3.
In Germany a lot of hybrid Modell 36’s were made: using parts of other models to make up a working telephone. These were made as an emergency measure, to cope with post war shortages, using existing stocks of parts.
During and after the war some were equipped with glass bells instead of steel ones.
In my collection
Curiosity lead caused me to end up with quite a few specimen over the years. Not only had I been looking for an early one, but also specific versions for the Dutch market found their way to me.
As a successor to the W28 I always wanted a good early prewar example, which I now have. Also the BASA and the BASA Norm 51 turned out to be good old Modell 36’s.
Before I found a good prewar example, I had a Siemens Bruxelles version, made of Zamac. This has since then joined the collection of another collector, as it was surplus to my needs.
Right now I am not actively looking for specific versions of this model, but if I find a version I do not know yet, I may very well try to buy it.