gec.gif (1164 bytes)GEC GECOPHONE

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GEC Gecophone, Gecophone 1000, Gecophone K,
Gecophone Junior and The New Gecophone

GEC Gecophone
The Gecophone was the GEC firm’s attempt at producing a self-contained version of the Telephone 232, and very successful it was, with production spanning three decades or more (1930's to 1950's).  The name Gecophone (pronounced jeekophone, not ggeckophone) was also used on their domestic wireless sets.

Introduced around 1930, the appearance of the Gecophone was a very neat instrument with a built-in bell, with styling similar to the 232 but less harsh in outline.  To maintain the compact size of the instrument the gongs were small, giving the ringer a rather cheerful  jingly sound.  Very early examples had the BPO style ‘stag’s antlers’ cradle;  later ones had a simpler and less vulnerable pattern that was no higher at the rear than at the front.  It also had the spittoon microphone cover on the handset.  In the GEC magazine "Current Comments" of April 1930 a picture of the Gecophone is shown with screws fixing the mouthpiece.  The October 1930 edition, however, showed a handset with no screws.

In 1934 the Gecophone was fitted with an "improved" ASTIC induction coil (GEC magazine "Current Comments" January 1934).

Plan versions of the Gecophone existed with buttons and lamps drilled in the case, as did secretarial sets mounted on the same design of plinth as used by the BPO.

The wall version, called the Muraphone, had the handset hanging vertically over the dial and appeared after the war; before then GEC supplied iron wall brackets to convert the Gecophone for wall use.

It is unclear when production  finally ceased, probably around the mid to late 1950's.  The last model was the Gecophone 1000 / Gecophone 'K' and it is thought that these were superseded by the GEC 1000 set.

Produced originally in black, by 1933 GEC was thinking of producing this model in different colours.  The GEC magazine "Current Comments" of January 1933 states:-

"A limited standard range offering a selection which will satisfy a variety of requirements is as follows:- Old Gold, Ivory, Green, Blue, Pearl Pink, Pearl Cream, Oxydised Copper, Oxydised Silver and Mottled Brown.

In each case the external connecting cords are braided with silk of a selected shade to match the telephone, the dial being suitably finished either to tone with the body of the instrument or to offer a contrast.  Old gold, ivory and green instruments carry a dial relieved by gold plating, while in blue, pearl pink, pearl cream, mottled brown and oxydised silver types, chromium plating is employed.  In the case of oxydised copper, the dial is partly finished red-bronze"

Many black examples carried a prominent gold and black transfer below the dial stating they were the property of the Reliance Telephone Company.  The ivory models are hard to find in perfect condition as the moulding material (Urea Formaldehyde, not Bakelite) often deteriorates badly.  Either the manufacturers had difficulty mixing the ingredients or else the material was unstable from the outset.  It often cracks and goes like toffee ripple ice cream, with swirls of yellow-brown in the ivory.  The mottled brown (mahogany) models are extremely rare and may not have been issued in this colour; the only examples seen originated from the Gleneagles Hotel and were originally spray painted silver in 1933.  Stripping the paint revealed the mottled brown material underneath (see the picture to the right).

The Gecophone saw considerable use on private (PAX, not PABX) systems installed by Reliance Telephone Company (a GEC subsidiary) and in the public network of the Irish P&T and some Commonwealth countries.  Examples also turn up with the branding 'Air Ministry' on the base.  Prestige installations included the ocean liner Queen Mary and the Royal Train (it is understood that the ivory Gecophones aboard the latter have been retained at the wish of Prince Charles).  Many telephones from the Queen Mary reached the collector and antique markets a few decades ago; they are recognisable by the labels in the dial dummies inviting users to place calls to any destination world-wide.  These phones were also installed by the LMS Railway at their prestige golfing hotel at Gleneagles in Scotland.  In central London the bookshop H. K. Lewis (in Gower Street) had black Gecophones all over the store until the 1970s or 1980s.

A model not infrequently seen is the modified version that was made for use on board Royal Navy ships.  The handset is restrained by metal guides and a movable retaining clamp and the telephone itself sits on a plinth.  The ‘dial label’ is chemically etched from brass.  The telephone itself is an amazing concoction of case (marked AP 12688, AP standing for Admiralty Pattern), handset AP 12691 and base AP 16667.  The case is a standard Gecophone case but the circuitry is similar to the BPO Telephone 332 and is too large to all fit inside the Gecophone case (hence the plinth).  Assembly was done by AEI Ltd at their Spennymoor works and examples have been seen with dates as late as 1966 (by which time the Gecophone shape was looking distinctly out-of-date).

As mentioned above, the name Gecophone was used for to brand the company’s domestic radio sets as well.  There was a Junior Gecophone (an office intercom phone), also the New Gecophone (alias the GPO Telephone No. 706).

Early Gecophone showing the oval terminal block used originally. Auto version, in used condition
The Gecophone Junior was a compact intercom telephone for 'universal' desk or wall use Mottled red-brown telephone from Gleneagles Hotel (the label states that guests should use the telephone for all requirements - Auchterarder 2231


Model No. Description
K 8167 Table, CB Gecophone
K 8387 Table, dial Gecophone
K 8388 As K 8387 but supplied with wall mounting bracket
K 8389 Table, dial Gecophone with DC buzzer
K 8390 As K 8389 but supplied with wall mounting bracket

Gecophone used on a ship - Note the handset restraint
Click on the picture for more information

Circuit diagrams for the dial model and how to convert to Plug and Socket

Inside of a Gecophone - this model has only one capacitor, which is on the rear of the baseplate.
(disregard the line cord wire colours)

Gecophone K and Gecophone 1000
Around 1956 the Gecophone K or Gecophone 1000 appeared.  In the GEC Journal (August 1956) and on pictures from the GEC marketing files it is called the Gecophone K, but it is also called the Gecophone 1000 on some of the GEC pictures.

The design of its case was identical to the Gecophone but had a more modern handset and updated internal circuitry.  The handset is of the hollow handle type, titled Handset No. 1 by the BPO, and accommodates the then newly developed 4T receiver (rocking armature type).

Called the 1000 because the phones circuitry was designed to work on 1000 ohm lines, this meant the cable sizes in a network could be reduced in size, thus presenting substantial cost savings in line plant.  It also meant that the phone had a market in places were long lines were the norm.

It is not know how many of these were produced or when production ceased, but it could be assumed that the phone was part of the trail for a 1000 ohm line telephone and that the GEC 1000 Telephone superseded it.

However, the wall variant of Gecophone was still produced and renamed as the Muraphone K.

For more pictures of the Gecophone K - click here

Gecophone Junior
A small telephones designed for use as a stand alone intercom system, with other Juniors, or part of a master-phone system, where the Junior telephones would be used as remote stations.

These phones could be wall or desk mounted.

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The New Gecophone
GEC in around 1959 started to produce the 700 type plastic cased range of telephones.  Initially they called these The New Gecophone, but later renamed them to match the numbers of the GPO sets i.e. GEC 706.

Originally the phone also had a wall mounted variant, which effectively was a the phone inverted with a metal bracket, which held the handset, fixed to the case.

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Last revised: April 05, 2021