Old BT 746 Telephones

With a big increase in the interest of old Vintage BT/GPO telephones , such as the 746 Telephone produced in 1970’s and 1980’s, many new manufacturers have flooded the market with modern Chinese replicas of this iconic telephone.

However, dont be fooled one of the greatest strengths of the original vintage telephone was its robust construction and the superb British engineering of the internal components. Unfortunately this can’t be matched in these modern inexpensive reproductions. This is particularly true of the sound of the bells, 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 very disappointed in these new telephones as they remembered the original old telephones fondly for the high quality of construction, the substantial weight and the lovely sound of the classic and distinctive bell “ring ring”. The original 746 telephones have a large complex bell mechanism have of high quality metals whereas the modern replicas use small inexpentive bells. The sound difference between the two is huge!

As always do your homework, if you have a nostalgic desire for one of these iconic old BT telephones research is the key. You can still buy these original vintage telephones that have either been restored or re-cased, provided you don’t mind using a rotary dial (which I believe is actually part of their charm).

Original 746 telephones, restored or re-cased  (new plastic case but the original internals and dial) are usually far more expensive than the modern foreign made replicas, however I believe they represent far better value for money as essentially they are still original and have all the iconic characteristics people remember in their vintage telephone (especially the bell mechanism). Plus unlike the genuine vintage telephones the replica’s have zero collectable value.

Red 746 Telephone
Original Vintage 746 Telephone (with refurbished case)

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Bakelite 332 Telephones

Again although not classed as Retro I believe its worth mentioning the most popular British Bakelite telephones (classified as Antique or Vintage), known as the 300 series Bakelite telephones.

They were the first British Bakelite phones to contain an internal bell. Before this telephones always had a separate “Bell Set”. This superb telephone with its classic hard lines is very sought after. The standard 300 series telephone was known as the 332, although the 300 series range contained several models, usually resulting in extra chrome buttons (above the dial), such as the 312 which had and extra button for shared service working.

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312 GPO Antique Telephone (1954)

The other models with the extra chrome buttons are rarer than the standard 332 and hence they are more collectable and harder to find in “Grade A” condition.

In this Bakelite Telephone Era 99.9% of all these telephones were Black.

Green 332 telephone
312 GPO Antique Telephone (1954)

The rarest colour for an antique 332 telephone is Green as in the one above.

Retro 706 Phone

The classic British Retro Telephone is the 706 (made in the 1960’s).

Abdy Retro Phones

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.