GPO Candlestick telephones are normally made from steel, with a cast iron base, that has a rubber strip set into it. The transmitter head can be either shaped like a daffodil or round. The daffodil head is mainly metal, painted black, with a trumpet style Bakelite funnel mouthpiece - original trumpets are difficult to obtain. The later round style is completely Bakelite and houses a Transmitter, Inset No. 10 or 13, which can be replaced with a modern equivalent.
No record can be found of any GPO Candlestick having exposed brass parts or with transfers. Everything was painted black with no transfers on the case.
Originally, Candlesticks had no dial aperture, as there were no automatic exchanges, but later models (i.e. the Telephone No. 150) did have an aperture in which either a dummy dial plate or a dial was fitted.
In the UK the dials fitted to GPO Candlesticks were the Dial, Automatic No. 10 or the Dial, Automatic No. 12. They are clearly marked under the dial rim and are also dated. GPO dials always have the finger stop located next to the "0".
Later Candlesticks were mainly produced in the GPO repair factory by using parts from the older style Candlesticks (i.e. No. 2's were made into No. 150's). Obviously the non-dial body was discarded and replaced by one with a dial aperture. In most cases the original transmitter support was utilised and this can be identified by a crossed out number (i.e. No. 2) on the head and the number 150 inserted next to the 2. This is quite normal.
The picture, above right, shows a head marked PX25. PX is the manufacturers mark and 25 is the year. The 235 is a "mark" number, which is of no real significance. The number "2" or "150" will be found on the other side of the head.
The Candlestick telephone never had any components fitted inside the case. The components were always in an associated telephone or Bellset. The Candlestick circuitry is the same as a Telephone No. 162, but has no transformer. Go to the 100 & 200 telephone page for more information.
The bell receiver was an old style magnet receiver which is quite weighty. The picture to the right shows a real GPO bell receiver broken down. The receiver cover was black (although the housing was made of brass) and had a finish of Ebonite applied to it (Ebonite is a hard substance made of rubber and fortified with sulphur). It was also used for the earcaps and terminal blocks. These receivers have gone brown over the years and in a lot of cases, the Ebonite has fallen off. Always ensure that the original earpiece cover is fitted, as this is a slimmer version of the 100 & 200 telephone earpiece and generally has a single dimple on the edge.
The base is a casting and has a rubber insert all the way around the base, close to the edge. It is fixed to the stem by a single central screw.
The Candlestick telephone always needs a Bellset No. 1 (wooden) or Bellset No. 25 (Bakelite) to actually work. These Bellsets consist of bell ringer mechanism, capacitor and an induction coil and are rarely found now days. A Bellset No. 41 will not work at all! Try and buy your Candlestick with the correct Bellset.
A number of fabricators, all British, have made quite convincing replicas of the Telephone No. 150. One style was in production for twenty years or more, so that the early example can now look genuinely old. The give-away is that the bases and stems are made of brass, not steel, although these are often covered with black paint.
Another manufacturer based in the north of England was using a mixture of genuine bases, stems and mouthpiece assemblies together with reproduction bell receivers and switch-hook assemblies. The give-away here is that the type number and manufacturer markings are stamped, not engraved, and are always No. 150 with manufacturer code PX. This firm had its own supply of original plaited cordage, which added a genuine air to these replicas. The same switch-hook assemblies were used to make up fake wooden Telephones No. 121 from No. 1 Bellsets and because the woodwork was original, the telephones look genuinely old and realistic enough to fool the average buyer.
The latest fake candlesticks have a chrome finish (never seen on the real thing in Britain) and have the letters GEC impressed into the stem in a script lettering. See them below - they are 100 per cent bogus. They also come in black and gold colours and never need a Bellset!!!
Last revised: December 30, 2022