With a big increase in the interest of old BT telephones , such as the 746 Telephone produced in 1970’s and 1980’s, many new manufacturers have flooded the market with modern replicas of this iconic telephone.
One of the greatest strengths of the original telephone was its robust construction and the superb British engineering of the internal components. Unfortunately this can’t be matched in these inexpensive reproductions. This is particularly true of the bells, and the modern replicas are vastly inferior in terms of quality and sound of the bell ring. Some modern GPO 746 replicas are not even the same basic shape as the originals, apparently based instead on an American 500 series telephone.
Many people who buy these inexpensive replica 746 telephones (made in China) are often disappointed in these new telephones as they remembered the original old telephones fondly for the quality of construction, the substantial weight and the lovely sound of the classic bell “ring ring”.
As always do your homework, if you have a nostalgic desire for one of these iconic old BT telephones research it the key. You can still buy these original telephones that have either been restored or re-cased, provided you don’t mind using a rotary dial (which I believe is part of their charm).
Original 746 telephones, restored or re-cased (new plastic case but the original internals and dial) are usually more expensive than the modern replicas, however I believe they represent far better value for money.
Iconic Retro telephones from the 1960’s and 1970’s such as the British TRIMphone “Tone Ringer Illuminated Model” have started to make a huge comeback. You can now buy modern replica versions of these telephones, updated with all the new facilities such as last number redial and the # and * keys.
Although this site is mostly about Retro Telephones I believe its still worth mentioning the classic British Bakelite Telephone. These antique telephones were the first Bakelite Telephones to be used in the UK. These telephones were made of Bakelite and had a separate “Bell Set” that contained the bell. However this “Bell Set” could be mounted underneath the telephone as shown below and the telephone was then called a “combined set”. These Bakelite telephones are now regarded as iconic art deco phones in the UK.
Classic 1940’s British Bakelite Telephone
These 200 series telephones were predominantly made in the 1940’s, however they were produced for the GPO between 1929 and 1957. These vintage telephones were produced in the standard black, rare ivory, very rare red and extremely rare jade green.
The model 746 Telephone was first introduced into service in the UK in 1967. This was an improved version of the previous 706 model. The 746 case had an integral handle which removes the need for a separate handle (as used on the earlier 706 telephones). The case styling was slightly different from the 706 although it retained the same overall look and feel. The same colour options were available that had become popular with the 706 range. The 746 was later produced with the new style plug type lead (PST and renumbered as was known as the 8746) this was also converted to high impedance bells to work reliably on the new system of wiring.
746 Telephones produced before the mid 1980’s that do not say 8746 on the base require correct conversion and adjustment to prevent them interfering with the telephone line and potentially causing intermittent problems with both the telephone and Broadband.
The classic British Retro Telephone is the 706 (made in the 1960’s).
These classic 1960’s 706 telephones were the first modern Plastic Telephones in the UK to be offered in a range of standard colours, such as ivory, red, green, concord blue, topaz yellow as well as black.
Before this the standard colour for a British telephone was Black, and although ivory, red and green were made they were very rare, less than 1:10,000 of all the Bakelite telephones in use in the UK were coloured rather than standard Black.