Not particularly valuable but peculiarly rare.
I hold in my hand the Automatic Electric Model 80 Monophone Handset with the earpiece removed to display the imprinted part number A.E. CO. D-51024-A EH of the screw terminal receiver (GTE) 810. I hold it above the familiar rounded shape of the black Model 80 housing and dial face with standard oversize numbers silkscreened on the outside with triangle arrows in the fingerholes of the clear plastic dial. This phone was re-manufactured in 1953 Canada by the new Phillips Electrical Company plant, 100 Strowger Boulevard on Schofield Hill, built by the Theodore Gary Company from warehoused new old stock Model 40's originally manufactured from 1935 and until the mid 50's by the Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works owned by the Automatic Electric Company (a subsidiary of the Theodore Gary and Company), which was located to the north of St. Lawrence Park on King St. West on the southwestern edge of Brockville, Ontario. The stacks of hundreds of thousands of the robust, and still durably functional, Art Deco style AE Model 40's were made instantly obsolete by American Telephone & Telegraphs introduction of their WE model 302 monophone copy update, now styled with sleek airstreem lines designed by Henry Dreyfuss in 1949 to create the 500 model. It only came in black but was the first phone to incorporate a convenient coiled handset cord. To combat the demand from desire of faux modernization, Automatic Electric re-manufactured their electrically superior monophone design to a similar airstream shell AE model 80 which re-utilized the previously manufactured equipment parts, but advertised the choice of color! So the warehoused stockpile was sent back to the new factory for updated cover shell, coiled cord and handset replacement. Mine is an example of one of those, owned by General Telephone and shipped to the exciting new post-war suburb bedroom community of Lakewood, California in 1954, which we leased at $4 a month until GTE offered it for sale on our invoice in the late 1970s. We still subscribe to inhouse wiring service so the whole house wiring is GTE copper installed and maintained by GTE crew. It's been wired to the wall here since 1954.
A technician added his mark to the Instrument Repair decal in 1966 when he reset the ringer from distinctive ring to standard ring by repositioning the end of a spring to the bottom of four step notches. This feature was primarily what made the AE phone electrics superior, the ability to assign a desk set to ring only on one of four selected ring frequencies, an elegant and brilliantly simple but now obsolete necessity for rural party lines which was selected automatically by the caller with the number suffix of J, K, L, or M sometimes seen on old listings and advertisements. Other elements of the set continued to be of better design than the newer WE 500s; faster and quieter dial escapement, simpler yet more versatile and reliable rounded button leaf switch contacts, lightning protection and a capacitor and coil which improved voice quality on long runs of local loop with or without multiple party line sets attached, an arrangement which also helped eliminate crosstalk and feedback, not to mention the transmitter (microphone) and receiver (speaker) both vast improvements both technically and for the user, quality of service, over the carbon particle transmitter and tin sound of the cupped disk on coil receiver offerings in the WE 500. When we purchased it as a result of the Bell Breakup, a technician came and replaced all the terminal blocks in the house with the female RJ11 wall receptacle jacks. On this phone he replaced the original screw eye terminals on cloth cord with a state of the art RJ11 connector on a clear plastic cord containing two grey plastic insulated stranded copper wire (the locking tab broke of years ago,) Under the decal on the baseplate is a black rubber stamp "40T" which is the model number as originally built.
Pictured is the Automatic Electric model 80 conversion baseplate - ''NB802 CXA 40T'' Model 40 to 80 conversion overlay decal which reads "instrument 80NTS dial S2070 repaired by Bxx7GG" the technician code, I may be mistaken but I believe, is his initials, the serial of those initials, and his home service garage. So he would be the seventh Bob (X). (X). out of Garden Grove, but again that's just a guess on my part.
What's not a guess on my part is the missing "Loudness" wheel. That's well documented as indicating a Model 40 to model 80 rebuild. On firstbuild model 80s there is a metal thumbwheel which descends through the slot, shielded by a dimple in the baseplate. The wheel has an expanding cam on which a lever hinges to a felt pad attached on it's end. When the wheel is on loud, the felt pad is disengaged, and when the wheel is rotated, the pad contacts and increases pressure between the two tone bells. The adjustable mute was an innovative feature not offered by its Western Electric rival until later by using a kludgy patent workaround. But the larger bells of the original model 40 ringers didn't permit space for the loudness wheel, so the ringer units were installed without the wheel.
What makes these so rare is GTE ownership primarily. When the obsolete equipment was returned to be repaired they were generally scrapped for metal or otherwise destroyed, and the customer premises equipment was upgraded with newer equipment. A great wave of replacement occurred of both the Model 40 upgrades and Model 80 rotary dial phones with the introduction of the popularized Touch-Tone dialing. Late model 80s could be updated with a new shell cover and dial pad kit in the field and returned to service for the most part, but converted model 40s were scrapped as obsolete. When the Bell System was forced to divest it's monopoly, that affected General Telephone as well, forcing them to allow user supplied terminal equipment (phones) to be connected to their network. They also chose to sell the phone to the subscriber should the subscriber should choose to buy their old leased phone and very few subscribers did so, choosing instead to opt for competitive newer phones for lower prices with more features such as TouchTone number keys, caller on hold, redial and often a local speed-dial memory. Subsequently a great majority of subscribers no longer leased the Automatic Electric Model 80 rotary dial desk sets which were either converted for RJ11 jacks and sold to the user for about $25 or collected by the same visiting technician and returned to the shops great circular bin in the sky. Many of the customers phones have not survived the durability of the Model 40 factory upgrades. The switchhook, for example, can be slammed, knocked about and cradled millions of times due to the twin round carbon button contacts on the ends of the intelligently stacked leaf switch isolated from the user by a hinged lever which also folded down for the technician when the shell was removed to simulate being on hook, or "hung up," simplifying testing but snapped back in place when the cover was attached in case the technician forgot to return it to it's correct position. The switch contacts rarely needed adjustment and were generally self cleaning being designed to barely arc - the occasional emery-board across the contacts would be overkill for years of reliable service.
[crosseye stereograph, see 3D with your right eye on the left image, and left on right.]
First I steam the hot dog as I prepare the sourdough, carefully sprinkling shredded mixed four cheese for even coverage to the edge and popping them in the toaster oven, which emerges warm and golden crisp at the edge, yet soft and supple underneath to wrap the dog. When the dogs are puffed and savory, I split them lengthwize as a boat for the pickle relish which keeps the juices from sogging the sourdough. A squirted line of catsup in the shadow of the dog completes the toasty-tasty treat.
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