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Candlestick telephones were made for magneto (generator signalling) manual exchange working, since had been the typical battery (CB) type, and of course for those subscribers connected to automatic exchanges. It's been written that there were in the area of one hundred variations to the many candlestick telephones, most originating in the United States and with a majority of manufacturers having a range of designs, the earliest relationship back to the American Strowger in 1896. Magneto candlestick telephones (Type 38 MT) were first used in Australia from 1902, just twenty six many years after Alexander Graham Bell placed patented rights on the invention. You can purchase a replica Candlestick telephone here
You can get these 800 series and brand new reproductions (including the candlestick phone) to buy here at Vintage Phones (click on the phone to see more details):
In candlesticks, fact were in use in Sydney up until the mid 1950s and in the case of Ryde, whenever the manual exchange cut over to automatic working in 1955, magneto candlesticks were still in use. When telephone instruments became much more easily available and were not in such short supply, thousands of candlestick telephones were dumped in the Municipal Council tip at St. Peters. Other were used for ground fill in an area near where the Ashfield Telephone Exchange today appears.
The candlestick is virtually a table instrument. In fact it employs two a bell, pedestal and units set. The pedestal consists of a solid back transmitter, bell receiver, receiver cable, dial, switch hook assembly and a terminal strip, all of which form the pedestal (pole) area. The bell set (usually wall-mounted, but at skirting board level) contains the induction coil together with the bell and related line circuitry. A three conductor cable connects the two units together. In most of the early telephones used by the PMG, a No.10 dial was fitted as well as the bell set was manufactured from timber as shown in the photograph. Metal or Bakelite bell sets were additionally used during the various stages of production.
As formerly mentioned, there were a number of different kinds manufactured by various organizations, and at the time these telephones were in use they were the many common form of table telephone. Later on models (Type 138) used inset type transmitters (immersed electrode carbon granule type) in place of solid back transmitters, which were becoming unserviceable. The inset transmitter fitted into a Bakelite housing which had been less expensive to produce and much easier to maintain.
Magneto candlestick telephones had been far more bulky than their automatic counterparts, and consisted of four pieces of interconnected equipment. This phone was made up of the pedestal (without dial) and the bell set, but additionally had a generator to signal the exchange operator and a battery box was used to house two big local series connected (1.5 volt dry mobile) batteries for speech transmission.
Candlestick telephones varied in design but with only minor differences noticeable between manufacturers. A large quantity of the candlestick telephones used in Australia had been imported from the United Kingdom, with British Ericsson being credited with the original design. Peel Connor, GEC and Siemens had been also amongst the main suppliers and although most candlestick telephones are of a comparable appearance there are many variations; the "fluted base" style of which there are several, has been credited to Siemens. The major suppliers in the United States were Western Electric, Stromberg Carlson and Automatic Electric. Some models had been made in Australia under licence agreements from overseas manufacturers.
An automatic fluted base candlestick telephone with a wall-mounted retractable extension arm (used to save desk space) and a control lock and key (to avoid use of the telephone by unauthorised persons), as used in newspaper offices, Police call boxes and the like (often seen in old movies), is on display at the Telecommunications Repository (old Post Office building) in Hercules Street, Ashfield, Sydney. This specific telephone times circa 1920 and was recovered from a Police call package in Sydney.
Unfortunately some candlestick telephones today available don't appear as total units and/or have had incorrect wiring modifications carried away because of missing parts. When the telephone is correctly wired in accordance with standard circuitry, such modifications are not necessary.
Many of the telephones have paint and nickel plating eliminated and the brass polished. This practice, together with incorrect wiring, removes originality and from the authenticity aspect it considerably devalues the item.
From a restorer's point of view it would be unreasonable to attempt to repair a Hans Heysen painting using a glue stick or a can of spray paint, and for logical reasons the telephone should be properly and painstakingly restored so its elegance and style will be correctly preserved. Contrary to just what many may think, it is the authenticity of the restoration that secures the right price.
Prices of candlestick telephones vary. Value depends on the type, manufacturer (that is, whether the tool is a magneto, common battery or automated phone), type of bell set, the instrument's condition and if any form of restoration has been attempted. A rusty pedestal and a battered bell set will now sell at around 0. The photographed telephone has been totally dismantled and each individual component restored to its original and pristine condition before assembly. Candlestick telephones of this calibre, complete with original plaited cords, are difficult to have and find a high price tag.
The 38AT and the 138AT were the standard PMG automatic (dial) telephone introduced with the new automatic exchanges installed from 1922. This type was superseded by the introduction of the 162AT in the 1930's but numerous still remained in service until the late 1940's.
The 38AT had a solid back transmitter, while the 138AT was fitted with a No. 13 place transmitter in a Bakelite housing.
The solid-back microphones originally fitted to the Type 38 were mostly replaced with a Bakelite moulding containing a standard carbon microphone inset (these assemblies were made by Siemens Brothers). These refurbished telephones were known as Type 138.
Candlestick telephones had been designed in a great variety of styles with varying features.
Most recognizable, candlesticks featured a base with a vertical cylindrical neck extending upright for as much as 10 inches in length. At the top of the stand was mounted a carbon microphone (transmitter) to speak into, and a switchhook extending sideways upon which an ear piece (receiver) was hung. In order to answer or make a telephone call, the user lifted the receiver off the switchhook, thereby activating an internal switch connecting the telephone to the telephone line.
Candlestick telephones required the nearby installation of a subscriber set (ringer, subset field), which housed the ringer to announce inbound calls and the electric circuitry (capacitor, induction coil, signaling connection, generator terminals) to connect the set to the phone network.
When automatic telephone exchanges had been introduced, the base of a candlestick additionally showcased a rotary dial, used for signaling the telephone number of an intended telephone call recipient.
Candlestick phones were created in various designs by many manufacturers. The main producers of these telephones were Western Electric (a unit of AT&T), Automatic Electric Co. (later acquired by GTE), Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company, and Stromberg-Carlson.
The very first tube shaft candlestick telephone was the Western Electric #20B Desk Phone patented in 1904
In the 1920s and 1930s, telephone technology shifted to the design of more efficient desk top telephones that featured a device with receiver and transmitter elements in one unit, make the usage of a telephone more convenient. However, despite ceasing new production, numerous candlestick telephones remained in operation, maintained by the telephone companies, throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s.
When Western Electric had sufficiently developed modern handset design in the 1920s, the Western Electric candlesticks were superseded by a series of new desktop models, starting with the A1 mount in the mid 1920s. This was essentially a candlestick telephone that had its vertical tube-shaft shortened to about 1.5 in in height above the round base, and had a cradle on top of it, designed to hold a combined handset with both the receiver and the transmitter in the same unit. The cradle contained a plunger that operated the hookswitch in the base below. The A1 was only distributed for a very short time until the B-type telephone mount (model 102 telephone) was completed in 1927, a streamlined design that replaced the tube-shaft with a sculpted cone shape. By 1930 this round base had been redesigned into the oval-footprint D-mounting to prevent instability of the unit when dialing. Simultaneously the electric circuitry was upgraded to produce the model 202 telephone, which reduced the strong sidetone characteristic of earlier designs.