Seldom I get a phone on my workbench that has come from another continent. And this particular one has been across the Atlantic a surprising number of times.
Not because it is such a rare and valuable phone. In terms of money it is not too expensive. It is more of a case of opportunity, chance, that it made so many crossings and that it has returned to its country of birth, albeit for a short while.
Made in Holland
There is a sticker at the base of this phone. It says “made in Holland”. This sticker was not on the phone when it left the Ericsson factory in Rijen, in the Netherlands. Originally this telephone was made for the Dutch PTT.
After its service with PTT it was collected as surplus material, given a quick check and perhaps a minor repair, the sticker was placed on the bottom and it was exported to the USA.
Stores like Radio Shack sold phones like these during the 70s as extension phones.
Not all these “made in Holland” phones ended up in the USA, though. I have another type with the same sticker, that I got from a Dutch friend. It probably never left the Netherlands. Another one I found in the souk in Damascus in 2008.
The Ericsson type 1951 was developed from a standard Ericsson model by the Dutch branch of Ericsson, situated in Rijen, Noord Brabant. It was introduced in 1951 and produced at least until 1970. Typical for the type 1951 are the cords running out of the rear of the phone, rather than the handset cord exiting the body shell on the left like the other non-Dutch versions.
After its service life it was phased out in the 1970s, together with its other bakelite cousins.
Here is an article I wrote about the restauration of a wall version of this model.
Back and forth across the Atlantic
So off it went to the USA. And a while ago I was contact by its present owner, Maura. She wanted it restored. She was in France for a couple of weeks, so she sent it from there to me in the Netherlands.
But not only that, she took it to France and back once before and had it in use in her house there for a while. And after that she took it back with her to the USA again.
Can you restore my phone, please?
So Maura wanted her phone restored. The ringer did not work, the transmitter (microphone) needed replacement and the plug that was on it she felt was cheap and nasty. And of course a good clean, polish and a technical tune up would be nice.
The owner wanted to connect the phone to the intercom system of her apartment building. She had connected the phone to that system, but the ringer did not work. I used the US-plug and adapted to hook the phone up to my test exchange and it worked perfectly.
That made us wonder if the problem with the ringer was that the ringing signal of the apartment building was perhaps too weak or of a different kind than that suitable for this telephone.
I cleaned the phone, polished the bakelite and gave it a thorough technical once over. I fitted a nice original PTT plug with an original PTT black wall socket with RJ-11 connector.
I rewired it to ring on a 2 wire connection, as this usually resolves ringing issues on a normal telephone line.
To the USA again
I sent it back to France and from there Maura took it to the USA. There it was connected to the intercom. To our great relief the ringer worked fine. And there it is now, connected with that original PTT-plug. Maura was glad to inform me it looked very much better now.
So it went from the Netherlands to the USA. From there it went to France and back to the USA again. After that it again went to France. And from France it returned to the Netherlands. After a couple of days I sent it back to France after which it went all the way to the USA. That means it crossed the Atlantic no less than 5 times. It is more traveled than some people. I am almost jealous.