COMPACTS and GECOPHONES


This style of telephone originated in the early 1930's.  This coincided with the introduction of Bakelite as a flexible moulding material and the Siemens Brothers producing the pyramid style telephone, which the BPO adopted.

These telephones were called different names, were produced in different models, had different numbers and were made by a number of  manufactures.  In many instances the telephones had no model identification markings on them, but Ericsson always have a number of the base, whilst GEC and TMC generally had none.  They are generally known as "compacts" but the GEC called their model the "Gecophone".

Three manufacturers made almost identical "pyramid" compact style telephones: Ericsson, GEC and TMC (TMC made telephones for Telephone Rentals [TR]).  The actual pyramid-shaped body mouldings may well have been made in the same factory; certainly early GEC Gecophone cases are more or less identical to early TMC cases, except that the GEC ones have GEC lettering inside the case.  Ericsson bought some Bakelite mouldings from TMC, which is why many Ericsson clones of the Gecophone have cradles marked TE.  The Ericsson case was deeper on the corners whilst the GEC version had straight lower edges.

The chassis of these telephones differed but early Ericsson clones of the Gecophone had chassis bases that shared some design features of the early TMC phones of this type.  Ericsson clones of the Gecophone made during WW2 have ringer coils that look identical to the first GEC ringer coils.  They have an Ericsson N part number painted on them but they were almost certainly made in Coventry by GEC.

Ericsson also made a phone very similar to the GEC Gecophone, the chief difference being a "stag’s antler" cradle similar to that of the BPO Telephone No. 232.  This telephone was originally supplied with a BPO Dial No. 8 (rather than the Dial No. 10).  The handset was the standard BPO Telephone No.164 type but originally used an inset microphone of Ericsson's own design.

Somehow the Ericsson designers found room for a full-size ringer and bell gongs within the moulding, which had radiused slots at the bottom to allow the sound to escape.  GEC used miniature curved bell gongs whilst TMC used barrel shaped bell gongs.

Some people confuse these telephones with similar Gecophones but the differences are fairly apparent.  The Ericsson model has a different case with deeper corners, to let out more sound from the ringer.  GEC cases had straight bottom edges to the base, whilst TMC generally used the Ericsson style case, sometimes using a straight edged case.  The Ericsson case generally has one cord entry hole but two have been seen, whilst early GEC models have one cord entry hole with later models having a hole in the case and a semicircular opening between the case and the base for a cable entry ferrule.  TMC had two cord entry holes horizontally next to each other.

All Ericsson models had proper "stag's antler" cradles whereas only the very first GEC Gecophones did, but then changed to a stubby design which was supposed to be damage free.

For line cord termination the Ericsson telephones generally had a Bakelite terminal block on the base plate, whilst GEC used a Paxolin plate, mounted on upstands, above or to sideways to the bell ringer.  TMC connected directly onto the terminals fitted within the case as the base plate was fully loaded with components.

Ericsson also made telephones for Telephone Rentals (TR) and Telematic.  Some of the TR phones used a 2 way handset cord with an Electro-Magnetic receiver, which meant there was no induction coil and the line was polarity conscious.

Ericsson manufactured, Telephone Rental model with no induction coil

TMC did not make its own dials and bought their dials from STC (manufacturer code W) so the dial should be marked with a W.  The capacitor should be marked TMC.  Dials and components on Ericsson phones would normally have an N prefixed part number.

The TMC later case is very similar to that of the GEC Gecophone (no cutaway along the lower edge) but with a proper "stag’s antlers" style cradle, rather than the stubby GEC design.  The base plate will probably have no markings and painted black.  They have a small square wire gauze grille about 2” x 1½", covering the slots that let the bell sound out.  The Telephone Rentals variant they made will have a TR logo on the handset and probably a TR dial label.

It appears that the same TMC ‘innards’ were used to refurbish older telephones as the chassis is also found labelled as a "Conversion Set for PAX instruments Code SS2597 TMC S55680".  The induction coil is identical with the BPO No. 27.  Surplus stocks of these assemblies were sold off by J Bull (Electrical) Ltd during the 1980s and to confuse people further, some have been fitted to Gecophone bodies as well.

The Paster diagram found inside these telephones will be prefixed with an "S" for TMC, "N" for Ericsson and "KS" for GEC.  Some GEC models have the letters DRG followed by numbers and these relate to drawing numbers.

Compact Quick Identifier
 

  Ericsson (ETL) GEC TMC
Case markings Info needed Inside the front of case
the letters "GEC" .
Sometimes on rear of case
Info needed
Bottom Edge of case Corners deeper Straight Carved & Straight
Handset markings ETL GECOPHONE
or G.E.C.
Info needed
Switch hooks Large antlers Short antlers Large antlers
Cable entry hole Single hole Single or Semicircular hole or
Two holes one above the other
Two holes
side by side
Diagram N prefix KS or DRG prefix S prefix
Bell gongs Large curved Miniature curved Barrel shaped
Bell gong fixings Info needed Hex set screws Slotted screws
Base Plate terminal block Bakelite Paxolin None
Dial Part number prefixed with N Info needed Marked with a W
Base plate - openings Base plate is shaped and
edges do not meet casing
Holes in base plate
Sometimes mesh covered
Oblong slots in base
Covered with mesh

 


Ericsson

The table below gives identifying features of all the known variants.  Model and diagram numbers all start with the prefix N.

Ericsson Quick Identifier

Model No. Terminal Blocks Switch hook Contacts Induction Coil Bell Diagram Date Diagram No.
             
N1010 (Auto)
N1380 (CB)
Straight with 7 terminals
Marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 terminal block marked L1, L2, C and B.
2 x Make 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected
Yes March 1931 N13502
             
N1010A (Auto)
N1380A (CB)
Straight with 7 terminals
Marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
2 x Make 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected.
No Bell or capacitor April 1931 N14275
             
N14387 Straight with 7 terminals
Marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
2 x Make 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected.
No bell or capacitor August 1931 N14387
             
N2180 (Dial)
N8420 (CB)
Straight with 7 terminals, marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 way blocks.
1 x Make and 1 x Change-over 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 may not be connected.
Yes December 1932 N14321
             
N20129 (Auto)
With 1 press button on case
Straight with 7 terminals, marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block.
2 x Make 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected.
Yes December 1931 N15305
             
N20130 (Auto)
With 1 press button on case
Straight with 7 terminals, marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block.
2 x Make 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected.
No bell.
DC Buzzer instead
December 1931 N15306
             
N20129B (Auto)
With 2 press buttons on case
Straight with 7 terminals, marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block.
2 x Make 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected.
Bell February 1932 N15456
             
N20234 (Battery)
With 1 press button in dial black plate
Straight with 7 terminals, marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block marked ZE and MC.
1 x Make and 1 x Change-over 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 and 6 not connected.
DC Bell August 1933 N16949
             
N1590 (Call and Reply).
With 1 press button
Straight with 7 terminals, marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block marked 1, 2, B and B.
2 x Make None DC bell or Buzzer November 1933 N17293
             
N1590A mod
(Call and Reply)
With 1 press button
Straight with 7 terminals, marked TR, R, T, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block marked 1, 2, B and B.
1 x Make and 1 x Change-over None DC Bell or Buzzer October 1933 N17992
             
N1010B (Auto) Straight with 6 terminals, marked 1 to 6.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block on the base plate, marked A+, B- and EB.
No induction coil.
Line is polarity conscious.
1 x Make None.
Handset cord only has two wires.
Yes July 1934 N18835
             
N20405 (Auto) L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
On the base plate two, 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block.
No induction coil.
Line is polarity conscious.
1 x Change-over None.
Handset cord only has two wires.
No Bell.
Relay instead
September 1934 N19477
             
N1010 (Auto)
N1380 (CB)
L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block.
2 x Make 6 terminal. Yes April 1935 N19995
             
N1592 (Call and Reply) L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8. 1 x Make, 1 x Break and 1 x Change-over None No April 1935 N50623
             
N1590A and N1591A (Call and Reply)
1 press button
L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block, marked 1, 2, B and B.
2 x Make None DC Bell or Buzzer September 1935 N50759
             
N20234 (Battery Ringing) L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block, marked Z, E, M & C.
1 x Break and 1 x Change-over None DC Bell December
1935
N50817
             
N20259 (Operators) L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
There are no components in this telephone.
4 way handset cord.
2 x Make None No February 1936 N52239
             
N20543 L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
On the base plate two, 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal blocks, each marked 1, 2, 3 and 4.
2 x Make and 1 x Chang-over 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected.
No Bell.
Relay instead
March 1936 N52263
             
N1380A mod (Auto)
 
L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
On the base plate two 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal blocks, each marked 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Two way handset cord.
Indicator lamp.
1 x Break and 1 x Change-over None No bell.
Relay and lamp instead
August 1936 N52614
             
N1380 Mod (CB) L shaped and similar to the BPO 232 with 8 terminals, marked 1 to 8.
On the base plate a 4 terminal horse shoe shaped line cord terminal block, marked L1, L2, C and B.
2 x Make 6 terminal.
Terminal 5 not connected.
No August 1936 N52615

 

GEC
The GEC produced two styles of the compact Gecophone in a multitude of models.  The Gecophone was the original and easily identified as the handset microphone was the spittoon type.  In 1956 there is mention of the Gecophone K or Gecophone 1000, which used an identical case to the Gecophone but had a more modern handset, with no spittoon and updated internal circuitry.  There is no indication that any of these were sold or produced in any number, but it was allocated a code number.  The pictures available were probably field trial pictures and it is thought that this model was dropped in favour of the new desktop telephone, the "1000 Telephone".  The next Gecophone model, called the "New Gecophone", was first produced in 1959 and was identical to the plastic telephone used in the UK by the GPO throughout the 1960's and 1970's.

Circa 1931 GEC produced a model that was called a "convertible telephone".  This was a local battery telephone with a two winding induction coil and a dial blank plate.  When exchanges changed over to the Automatic system these telephones could be converted by changing out the induction coil for an ASTIC version and installing a dial.  These telephones also had switch hook contact sets comprising of one make and one changeover.

Some Gecophones have a DC bell, which were installed on certain GEC PAX's and did not have an induction coils.  This was because they were fitted with an Electro-magnetic receiver, which was just connected in series with the transmitter.

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.

GEC Tropical Gecophones had the holes in the base covered with mesh, the handset rest had a ventilator in it and the induction coils were varnished.

There may also be dates on the telephone components.  Sometimes the on the rear edge of the dial, but in most cases the capacitor will be dated.

Click here for more information on the GEC Gecophone.

Click here for GEC Gecophone diagrams, identification and conversion information.

Originally, GEC telephones were always numbered with a two, three or four digit number, prefixed by the letter K i.e. K7055.  Pure Peel Conner phones (those not sold by GEC) only used a number on their phones.  Click here for the Peel Conner apparatus.

The K numbers continued until around 1934 when the telephones and switchboards had their Catalogue numbers changed to figures only that consisted of  three or four digits i.e. 204A (Current Comments - Volume 2, Number 4 - 1932).

Circa 1948 (Current Comments - Volume 3, Number 1 - 1948) the catalogue numbers changed to two letters followed by four numbers i.e. ST1301.

On 1st June 1955, GEC adopted a new method of code/catalogue numbering their telephone range.  The code consists of three groups of characters.  Every code number started with TEL.  At this point the Gecophone was renamed the "Gecophone K" or "Gecophone 1000".

Click here for a list of Gecophone K variants

GEC Quick Identifier

K models
1930 to 1934
Numbered models
1934 to 1948
ST models
1948 to 1955
TEL models
1955 to 1959
Capacitor - integrated fixings Capacitor - fixed with strap Capacitor - fixed with strap Capacitor - two cylindrical
Handset - Spittoon type Handset - Spittoon type Handset - Spittoon type Handset - Non-spittoon type
Terminal block - sideways Terminal block - above ringer Terminal block - above ringer Terminal block - next to ringer
Contacts - straight Contacts - straight Contacts - angled Contacts - straight
Ringer mechanism - large Ringer mechanism - small Ringer mechanism - small Ringer mechanism - small
Cable entries - one Cable entries - two Cable entries - two Cable entries - one
Large holes in base plate - 2 Large holes in base plate - 8 Large holes in base plate - 8 Large holes in base plate - 8

GEC List of Gecophones

Model No. Signalling Type Description
K 8167 CB TABLE Gecophone
K 8387 AUTOMATIC TABLE Gecophone
K 8388 AUTOMATIC WALL As K 8387 but supplied with wall mounting bracket
K 8389 AUTOMATIC TABLE Gecophone with DC bell
K 8390 AUTOMATIC WALL As K 8389 but supplied with wall mounting bracket

 

Model No. Signalling Type Description
75 AUTOMATIC TABLE STANDARD MODEL
85 AUTOMATIC WALL STANDARD MODEL ON WALL BRACKET
90 AUTOMATIC TABLE DC RINGING - FUW PAX 5000 OR 5100
94 AUTOMATIC TABLE DC RINGING - FUW PAX 5600
175 CB TABLE STANDARD MODEL
185 CB WALL STANDARD MODEL ON WALL BRACKET
ST 1301 CB TABLE STANDARD MODEL
ST 1302 CB WALL STANDARD MODEL
ST 1401 CB TABLE TROPICAL
ST 1402 CB WALL TROPICAL
ST 1406 CB TABLE TROPICAL - SHIPS TELEPHONE
ST 1407 CB WALL TROPICAL - SHIPS TELEPHONE
ST 1501 AUTOMATIC TABLE DC RINGING - FUW PX1110 OR PX1210
ST 1502 AUTOMATIC WALL DC RINGING - FUW PX1110 OR PX1210
ST 1503 AUTOMATIC TABLE AC RINGING
ST 1504 AUTOMATIC WALL AC RINGING
ST 1601 AUTOMATIC TABLE TROPICAL - DC RINGING - FUW PX1110 OR PX1210
ST 1602 AUTOMATIC WALL TROPICAL - DC RINGING - FUW PX1110 OR PX1210
ST 1603 AUTOMATIC TABLE TROPICAL
ST 1604 AUTOMATIC WALL TROPICAL
ST 1610 AUTOMATIC TABLE TROPICAL - SHIPS TELEPHONE
ST 1611 AUTOMATIC WALL TROPICAL - SHIPS TELEPHONE
ST 1701 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - REGULAR
ST 1702 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - REGULAR
ST 1703 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - LOOP AUTO CLEAR
ST 1704 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - LOOP AUTO CLEAR 
ST 1705 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - EARTH AUTO CLEAR
ST 1706 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - EARTH AUTO CLEAR
ST 1707 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - RSAX EARTH CLEAR
ST 1708 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - RSAX EARTH CLEAR
ST 1709 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - EARTH RING OFF
ST 1710 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - EARTH RING OFF
ST 1711 CBS 1 TABLE CONVERTIBLE
ST 1712 CBS 1 WALL CONVERTIBLE
ST 1713 CBS 1 PARTY LINE TABLE CONVERTIBLE
ST 1714 CBS 1 PARTY LINE WALL CONVERTIBLE
ST 1715 CBS 2 & 3 TABLE CONVERTIBLE
ST 1716 CBS 2 & 3 WALL CONVERTIBLE
ST 1717 CB MANUAL TABLE CONVERTIBLE - CB
ST 1718 CB MANUAL WALL CONVERTIBLE - CB
ST 1719 AUTOMATIC TABLE CONVERTIBLE - AUTOMATIC
ST 1720 AUTOMATIC WALL CONVERTIBLE - AUTOMATIC
ST 1801 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1802 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1803 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - LOOP AUTO CLEAR
ST 1804 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - LOOP AUTO CLEAR 
ST 1805 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - EARTH AUTO CLEAR
ST 1806 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - EARTH AUTO CLEAR
ST 1807 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - RSAX EARTH CLEAR
ST 1808 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - RSAX EARTH CLEAR
ST 1809 MAGNETO TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - EARTH RING OFF
ST 1810 MAGNETO WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL - EARTH RING OFF
ST 1811 CBS 1 TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1812 CBS 1 WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1813 CBS 1 PARTY LINE TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1814 CBS 1 PARTY LINE WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1815 CBS 2 & 3 TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1816 CBS 2 & 3 WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1817 CB MANUAL TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1818 CB MANUAL WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1819 AUTOMATIC TABLE CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
ST 1820 AUTOMATIC WALL CONVERTIBLE - TROPICAL
TEL/1G/ AUTOMATIC TABLE GECOPHONE
TEL/2G/ AUTOMATIC TABLE GECOPHONE
TEL/3G/ AUTOMATIC TABLE GECOPHONE
TEL/4G/ AUTOMATIC WALL GECOPHONE
TEL/6G/ AUTOMATIC TABLE GECOPHONE - WITH BUTTON
TEL/10G/ CB TABLE GECOPHONE
TEL/13G/ AUTOMATIC TABLE GECOPHONE
TEL/31G/ATS AUTOMATIC TABLE GECOPHONE K or GECOPHONE 1000
TEL/32G/ATT AUTOMATIC TABLE GECOPHONE K or GECOPHONE 1000


 

TMC
The TMC compact had a case with straight edges to the base, with two cable entry holes (horizontal) in the rear.  All the components were fitted to the base.  The bell gongs were barrel shaped.  The dial should have a date under the outer rim and also be marked with the letter "W".

Cases originally were like Ericsson's with the bottom of the case deeper on the corners but by the mid 1950's they had changed to straight lower edges.  The original base plates were also like Ericsson's and did not meet the edges.  Later base plates were flush with the case and had six oblong slots covered with mesh under the bell gongs.  Telephone Rental base plates have also been found with a set of 9 holes, in a circle, under each gong.

Many of these compacts found have a cylindrical capacitor.  These were introduced in the UK circa 1955.

TMC also produced telephones for TR - click here to view TMC telephones.

Model numbers all start with an S prefix.

The telephones can be dated by means of the capacitors.  The capacitor will have printed information on the end or one side.
For example No. 97 TE 61/1 2 + 0.1 uf equates to a capacitor with a code number of 97 (Capacitor No. 97), which was made by TMC (TE) in 1951 (51/1) with a capacity of 2uf and 0.1uf (this capacitor is effectively two in the same container).

TMC Quick Identifier

S52596 S52597 Unknown
Capacitor - Cylindrical Capacitor - Cylindrical Capacitor - TBA
Handset - Spittoon type Handset - Spittoon type Handset - Spittoon type
Terminals in case - TBA Terminals in case - 6 Terminals in case - 6 or 8
Terminals on Base plate - TBA Terminals on Base plate - None Terminals on Base plate - 6
Cable entries - 2 Cable entries - 2 Cable entries - 1 or 2
Holes in base plate - Slots Holes in base plate - Slots Holes in base plate - Slots or Holes

 

 

 
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Last revised: January 25, 2022

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