TELEPHONE No. 2
for use with Bellset No. 1 in CB areas. No provision was made for a dial.
The Golf Ball candlestick, made by Western Electric was the early version of what the G.P.O. numbered a Telephone No. 2 and was first used by the National Telephone Company. Early examples have their transfers on them.
The name Golfball is used as the telephone has what resembles a golf ball in the middle of the stem.
Many GPO Telephone No. 2's were converted to Telephone No. 150's after recovery from customers premises.
Supplied by Ericsson, Model No. CG1200.
The "Golfball" Telephone
In 1901 there were two markets in the U.K. for the Golfball telephone, the General Post Office (GPO) and the National Telephone Company (NTC). How can you distinguish between the two types of Golfball? In the first version the GPO example had GPO engraved on the side of the open terminal receiver. The NTC example had a gold transfer of their name on the top of the black base.(3) On the side of the black base there was a second gold transfer Western Electric Co Ltd, Antwerp.
Subscriber’s Desk Set
On 26th April 1882 the Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company (BTMC) was founded, and opened a factory in Antwerp in Belgium. Its ownership was shared between Bell and Western Electric.
The BTMC factory quickly evolved a range of European phones to compete. In the earliest models, they used some parts brought in from other manufacturers until they could design their own versions. In other phones, they copied local styles. Most of these designs never made it back to the U.S., and are now uncommon. In particular, they developed their own desk sets long before the U.S.A. brought them into use. (1)
BTMC produced various telephones. Around 1901 they mass produced a desk set and a wall set. These were to be the standard telephones used in the U.K. for many years to come. The Western Electric wall set has been covered previously in an article by Bob Estreich. (2) The Western Electric Company Subscriber’s Desk Set was given the nickname "Golfball". This was because of the bulbous section in the middle of the stem that housed the switching mechanism. From now on I will refer to the telephone as the Golfball.
The first version of the Golfball had a switch hook arm that was open at the end. This design was the same as the switch hook arm, that appeared on U.S.A. telephones at that time. The Golfball manufactured in Antwerp, Belgium was sold to the U.K. only and not used in other European countries or the U.S.A.
In the factory photo (7) there could be as many as 1,000 Golfballs ready to go out for distribution. In the NTC brochure "The Universal Time Saver 1906", an article features the Golfball and Wall Set.
(8) In another brochure Twentieth Century Telephone Service for Hotels and Residential Buildings 1907, (9) it states amongst others that the Golfball was supplied to the following hotels in London, such as The Russell, Hyde Park, Ritz, Savoy and Waldorf. In 1909 the NTC devised a coin-collecting box for use with the Golfball telephone. For use at large stores, to enable a counter pay service to be at the disposal of customers. The measurements of the box are 4" x 4" x 3". It is just sufficient to hold the pennies for one day’s calls at a busy counter. The box has the NTC bell logo on the side. The brochure states that: "Between 400 and 500 have been fitted in London, and are serving their purpose admirably". (10)
In October 1909 the GPO supplied a telephone system to Harrods that gave them 214 extension circuits. Of these, 76 were Golfball counter telephones with special coin-collecting boxes that could be used by customers. (11)
In the second version of the Golfball there had been a few minor changes. The GPO example no longer had GPO engraved on the side of the receiver, instead, it was engraved on the aluminium stem. For the NTC example the aluminium stem was painted black obliterating the GPO markings. NTC transfer was then added to the black base. The switch hook arm is now rounded at the end.
Golfball With Coin-Collecting Box
The red GPO diagram book of 1909 (12) has diagrams for the Golfball No. 2 and the redesigned stem wired No. 2. It is thought that both designs were manufactured side by side for quite a few more years to come. The Golfball would have been in service for at least ten years if not even longer. During that period, many thousands of Golfballs would have been produced.
The Post Office N-diagrams appeared in 1917. There was never an N-diagram for a Golfball. Telephone engineers would have been issued with their new black book of N-diagrams but it is most likely that they still carried the red book of 1909 diagrams with them. It could be assumed that by 1917 the Golfball was being phased out.
(1) The "European Bell and Western Electric Telephones", by Bob Estreich.
(2) The "Western Electric Model 265", by Bob Estreich.
(3) "National Telephone Company" Golfball, Wollaton Industrial Museum, Nottingham.
(4) Practical Telephone Handbook, Poole 3rd edition, 1906 page 124.
(5) "Western Electric Company" London, Catalogue, 1902.
(6) Practical Telephony, Bell & Wilson 4th edition, 1906 page 145.
(7) Post Office Stores 1901, negative E266. B.T. Archives.
(8) The Universal Time Saver, National Telephone Company, brochure, 1906 B.T. Archives.
(9) Twentieth Century Telephone Service for Hotels and Residential Buildings, National Telephone Company, brochure, 1907, B.T Archives.
(10) London and its organisation, National Telephone Company Journal, October 1909 page 137 and continued December 1909 page 179, B.T. Archives.
(11) New telephone Installation at Harrods. I.P.O.E.E.J. 1910, Volume 3, page 137.
(12) Connections of Telephonic Apparatus and Circuits. General Post Office, HMSO 1909.
Last revised: February 28, 2012