These telephones are normally very collectable if they are original GPO stock.  Many of these telephones offered for sale are hybrids, non GPO or replicas.  Of course it depends on what you are collecting or the price you want to pay.  An original is shown to the right.

Coloured replicas cost from £90 - £220, whereas a real the GPO green telephone in very good condition will cost as much as £1800 and the red £750.  Funny prices can also be an indication that the seller knows more than they are letting on!

To the right is a picture of a marking from the base of a Telephone No. 162, it was made by Siemens in 1932 with a dial that had figures (F) on it and was a mark 234.  This style of marking is quite normal. Click here for more information on markings

Also look out for the GPO batch stamp - shown later in this document.

Indian produced replicas are very good if you want a pyramid, perfect in condition, coloured and at a very much reduced price.  These can generally be identified if they have ITI on them, if the handset details have been polished out, if the marking protrude from the handset or if the handset details say "GPO PL'35 No164" or "GPO PL'37 No164" (see picture below).

GPO handsets have recessed details (normally marked GPO Tele 164, with manufacturers code and date, similar to above) whilst most replicas have it protruding.  The red handset below and to the left, is a genuine handset (even though it has no GPO marking!) with recessed markings, whilst the white handset to the right shows protruding markings and is a replica.

Genuine                                    Replica
but has no GPO markings                                               

Also beware of those telephones that have a line cord entry on the side of the telephone case - genuine GPO telephones always have the cable entry in the lower rear of the case.

Casing and Colour
Some individuals have been known to spray black telephones green or red and coloured phones that are faded are also being resprayed..  The sellers call this refinishing!  These are generally easy to spot as the paint is thin on the corners and the black case shows through (the GPO never sprayed any cases, they were always replaced).  Coloured originals also generally have that transparent look and although some look quite solid.  If you think it is painted - ask.  If the seller says no, see if you can peel the paint off with your finger nail.

Due to the age of these phones the cases will also be scratched and in some cases chipped.  Some original coloured cases are faded (due to light - particularly the reds!) and this causes difficulty in matching broken parts - always check your coloured telephone in daylight (if the seller complains - report them straight away to Trading Standards).

An Indian conjuring trick was a series of 200-type cases and bases, both of which are visibly under-sized.  The result is that the fixing screws in the metal base plates do not line up and must be forced in at an angle.  The drawer in the front of the telephone's base is well copied and looks quite realistic; on the other hand the celluloid insert for the dialling code card is not at all convincing.  The forks of the cradle rest are of the type fitted to the 162 instrument (early type) and look wrong.

Beware of case cracks and damaged handset rests (broken prongs or forks), particularly if coloured, because these are very hard to find and expensive to repair.

Handset Rest
These phones can now be up to 90 years old and are made of plastic.  When plastic starts to break down it can be a disaster and in general only the handset rest, drawer fronts and plungers are affected on this model.

Firstly smell the handset rests - if you smell an acrid vinegar smell then keep away.
Visually check the handset rests - is there any discolouration on the ends - if so then keep away.
Does the plunger stay down and not spring up - is this caused because it is in contact with the handset rests - if it is then keep away.  Be careful though because sometimes the plunger sticks in the body due to grime - this can be cleaned easily.

This handset rest below has started to deteriorate.......

This has an acrid smell and you can see discolouration at the bottom of the right hand upright


At the two points marked "X" you can see the slots are chamfered.
The edges should be straight.  The plungers should be able to move freely in this slot but they catch in the example above.


There are also two patterns of handset rests: the later type had a base that was larger than the neck whilst the early type had a base the exact same size as the neck of the telephone.

The reproduction forks are of thinner proportions than the genuine ones and the rear prongs of the forks may be of different proportions to each other.  Reproduction forks are also closer in design to those used on the Telephone No. 162.  On their underside the repro forks have two circular mould marks raised proud (on genuine originals these are recessed and contain the initials of the firm that moulded them).

Early style - genuine Later style - genuine

Inspect the inside of the telephone to ensure that it has the original wiring and components. Check the diagram pasted to the base is the correct diagram and look at the markings on the components.  GPO parts usually had a description a number (i.e. Coil Induction No. 29) and probably a date, whilst privately supplied telephones generally just had numbered parts i.e. N103425 (British Ericsson part number).

Also check the dates on the internal components, this will indicate whether the phone is totally original.  Expect some parts to be dated differently as many phones were repaired at GPO factories, with parts replaced and then returned to the field.  If you are offered a telephone that is supposed to be totally original then check the component dates and manufactures name.  These should be the same code and the dates within a couple of years of each other. In particular check the dial - you will have to release the dial from the case to find the date of issue and manufacturers code under the outside edge. The dial also has a date and this can be found under the rim, which means the dial has to be dropped out to see the date.

Look for minimal refurbishment and expect to find markings on the bases.  A plastic sticker indicates factory refurbishment and a white painted square nearby (shown to the right) would most probably be covering the original markings.  This is quite normal.  Bases with nothing written on them or cases with transfers are not generally GPO.  The only garish thing done to 100 & 200 types was a mirror inside the instruction draw with a red GPO insignia (very rare).

The feet are flattened and are uniformly round.  Domed feet were never fitted to these phones.

Converting to the new UK socket system
These telephones will work with the UK new style sockets without modification.  All you need is a plug ended cord, possibly a new transmitter and a little bit of wire to connect the transmitter.  There is no real reason to remove the innards and replace them with a modern circuit.  The cords and transmitter are relatively cheap compared to getting replacement Bakelite or original parts.

The Telephone No. 162 needs a Bellset if you want the phone to work properly, whereas the Telephone No. 232 will work perfectly well without a Bellset - as long as you do not want a bell with the telephone.  If a 162 or 232 has a bell inside the case, then the bell is not original!

The Telephone No. 162 (and the Candlestick telephone) requires a Bellset No. 1 (wooden) or Bellset No. 25 (Bakelite).  These Bellsets consist of bell ringer mechanism, capacitor and an induction coil and are rarely found now days.  A Bellset No. 41 or a Bell No. 1 will not work at all!

Do not be misled when looking inside a Telephone No. 162 as it has a metal clad transformer fitted inside.  This is normal, it is not an induction coil and will not suffice on it's own.  The pictures below show the insides of a Telephone No. 162 and 232.  On the Telephone No. 232 the Induction Coil is on the right and is paper covered.

Telephone No. 162 showing metal clad
transformer to the right
Telephone No. 232 showing paper covered
induction coil to the right

The Telephone No. 232 requires a Bellset No. 26 (contains a bell ringer and capacitor - black is fairly easy to get hold of) if you want a bell to go with the telephone.  Without the bellset, the telephone will still function making outgoing calls as normal.

Expect to pay between £25 - £70 for a black cased Bakelite Bellset No. 26, try to get one included with the telephone.  Ensure you get the right one!

Coloured Bellset covers are very rare, even the ivory ones - expect to pay a lot for green or red.

The Telephone No. 162 generally came with a plain Bakelite base although some had cast bases painted black.  These bases also had a circuit diagram pasted onto them and many were lead weighted.  Some early examples had an iron base.  Telephones with a 1/ prefixed to them should have a drawer in the base.  The Telephone No. 232 generally came with a drawer.

Blacks and Ivory telephones at present will cost between £80 - £250 for black, up to £200 - £350 for ivory.

Don't expect perfect transmission quality from them either - but this can be addressed by fitting a modern electronic transmitter - click here for details.


  • Check all Bakelite parts for cracks.

  • Inspect the Bakelite parts and if they are a brownish colour with knobbles then this will not brighten up - do not purchase.

  • Smell the forks - if they smell acrid then do not purchase.

  • Do the plungers spring up - if jammed make sure it's not a distorted handset rest.

  • Dial - is it slow - but does return slowly - this is repairable - clean out spindle.

  • Dial - does not return at all - broken return spring - costly replacement.

  • Feet - do they look good or have they flattened due to weight.  Reproductions can be purchased.

  • Cords - braided - can be replaced easily with reproductions.

  • Cords - plastic - not many reproductions on the market - if greasy can be cleaned with biological washing powder.

  • Visually check internals.  Generally they don't go wrong.  Wiring is always laid out nicely.

  • Check that there is a metal plate inside the earpiece - unscrew the earpiece and if you see screws the plate is missing.  The plate is required for speech reception.

  • Has it got a modern transmitter?  The original old transmitter will most probably be faint or noisy.  Replacement is relatively cheap.

  • Does it look painted - scratch a corner with your finger nail to see if there is paint.

Click here for more information on reproduction 200 type telephones

As prices vary all the time do not expect this document to reflect the current market prices for all the telephones mentioned above


Check a coloured telephone in day light

If you buy on Ebay - and it's expensive - go and see it for yourself!!!

Pictures of coloured phones will not show any parts that are slightly different colours!

I do not give valuations!

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Last revised: November 05, 2022