Fake, not real. Intentionally made to look like something it is not. And for months I thought it was real. Until I got it home and had a good look.
And then it turned out to be a real Frankenphone, stitched together from part of no less than 6 different telephones. A frankenphone? Yes, as frankenphone as they come, frankenphone being an contraction between frankenstein and telephone. It means the telephone in question was stitched together from parts of various telephone types, like Frankenstein’s monster was made of bodyparts of several humans.
How I got it
Last september I got an email from Joop. He had a whole lot of telephone equipment for sale. So I went to his house and had a quick look. Quick, because he lives not very close to my house and we were on our way to visit family.
And he did have a lot of telephone stuff and on top of the pile was this old metal phone with a city logo. Those are especially nice to have. This got me eager! I did a quick inspection of the rest, saw some nice and interesting items and also a lot of scrap metal.
We made a deal and agreed that I would pick everything up in december. We were having construction work done to our house and I was not in a position to receive such a lot of stuff and I had to wait until things setled down at home.
So between christmas and New Year’s Day we went and got this enormous load of stuff. Our car was filled to the brim. It took me weeks to sort everyting out.
What I thought it was
It looked like a classic metal phone from the 20s, probably German. Rectangular metal box with rounded corners, bell on top, metal nickel plated dial, cloth cords: all characteristics of a nice old interbellum telephone. Just the thing I was looking for. A good one is hard to find and quite valuable.
Although it looked German, I did not quite recognise it. So that had me thinking. And that coat of arms was of the city of the Hague, but different from the one I had on another telephone.
Whatever it was, it would be a very welcome addition to my collection and a nice project to restore, especially with that great looking coat of arms. Or would it?
A closer look
When I finally got it home and got to view it in normal daylight I noticed that the coat of arms was not painted on or a water decal, as they are on real antiques. It was more like a modern sticker. Also those unusual small bells looked very familiar. They look exactly like bells from a PTT T65!
Those were bad signs. But if that was all, it would not be a big problem. I could fit other bells and the sticker could be romoved.
Also the handset was wrong for a 1920s telephone. That is not uncommon for these type of telephones. Often they were refurbished to extend their life span and the metal handset replaced with a more modern bakelite one. In this case the handset was a model from 1936, with an odd mouth piece.
The real surprise was when I opened the telephone up. The original innards were all removed and new electronic components were added. By the looks of it they came mostly from an Ericsson type 1951 and were sort of thrown inside haphazardly.
So the only really old parts are the outer metal casing, the the hooked bar of metal, that operates the hook switch and the screw that closes fastenes the front cover to the back plate. Not quite what I thought it was.
6 different telephones, at least
So what do we have?
- outer casing, from a German 1920s telephone.
- Ericsson dial from tje 1930s
- German handset, model 1936, made by Heemaf
- T65 bells
- Atea mouthpiece
- Ericsson type 1951 innards
And no idea where the cords came from, but the inner wires are coloured blue, red and yellow indicating they are originally from a Dutch telephone.
There is not enought there of one single model to make up te majority of this telephone. A true frankenphone.
For comparison I have added a picture of the inside of a T65, showing the bells and the inside of an Ericsson type 1951 to show the electronic components in their original position.
Well, a bit, yes. I had expected to land a nice collectable. At least I can get some good parts out of it, especially the cords and the dial.
In the end I did not overpay, I think, for that huge lot of telephone equipment I bought from Joop. But that this fake was not the genuine article hasn’t helped.
I’m convinced that it wasn’t Joops work. His wife told my wife that although he amassed telephone stuff for 40 years, he never actually did anything with it. Probably Joop fell for it as well and thought it was a genuine antique, just like me. 🙂