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GEC Gecophone, Gecophone 1000, Gecophone K,
Gecophone Junior and The New Gecophone
The Gecophone was
the GEC firms attempt at producing a self-contained version
of the BPO Telephone No. 232, and very successful it was, with production
spanning three decades or more (1930's to 1950's). The name Gecophone
(pronounced jeekophone, not ggeckophone) was also used on their
domestic wireless sets.
Introduced around 1930, the appearance
of the Gecophone
was a very neat instrument with a built-in bell, with styling similar to the
232 but less harsh in outline. To maintain the compact size of the instrument
the gongs were small, giving the ringer a rather cheerful jingly sound. Very early examples had the BPO style
"stag’s antlers" cradle; later ones
had a simpler and less vulnerable pattern that was no higher at the rear than at
the front. It also had the spittoon microphone cover on the handset.
In the GEC magazine "Current Comments" of April 1930 a picture of the Gecophone
is shown with screws fixing the mouthpiece. The October 1930 edition,
however, showed a handset with no screws.
In 1934 the Gecophone was
fitted with an "improved" ASTIC induction coil (GEC magazine "Current Comments" January
versions of the Gecophone existed with buttons and lamps drilled
in the case, as did secretarial sets mounted on the same design
of plinth as used by the BPO.
The wall version, called the Muraphone, had the handset hanging vertically over the dial and
appeared around 1938; before then GEC supplied iron wall
brackets to convert the Gecophone for wall use.
It is unclear when production
finally ceased, probably around the mid to late 1950's. The last model was the
Gecophone 1000 / Gecophone 'K' and it is thought that these
were superseded by the GEC 1000 set.
Produced originally in black, by 1933 GEC was thinking of producing this
model in different colours. The GEC magazine "Current Comments" of January
"A limited standard range
offering a selection which will satisfy a variety of requirements is as
follows:- Old Gold, Ivory, Green, Blue, Pearl Pink, Pearl Cream, Oxidised
Copper, Oxidised Silver and Mottled Brown.
In each case the external
connecting cords are braided with silk of a selected shade to match the
telephone, the dial being suitably finished either to tone with the body of
the instrument or to offer a contrast. Old gold, ivory and green
instruments carry a dial relieved by gold plating, while in blue, pearl
pink, pearl cream, mottled brown and oxidised silver types, chromium plating
is employed. In the case of oxidised copper, the dial is partly
Many black examples carried a prominent gold
and black transfer below the dial stating they were the property
of the Reliance Telephone Company. The ivory models are hard to
find in perfect condition as the moulding material (Urea
Formaldehyde, not Bakelite) often deteriorates badly. Either the
manufacturers had difficulty mixing the ingredients or else the
material was unstable from the outset. It often cracks and goes
like toffee ripple ice cream, with swirls of yellow-brown in the
ivory. The mottled brown (mahogany) models are extremely rare and may not have
been issued in this colour; the only examples seen originated
from the Gleneagles Hotel and were originally spray painted
silver in 1933. Stripping the paint revealed the mottled brown
material underneath (see the picture to the right).
Gecophone saw considerable use on private (PAX, not PABX) systems
installed by Reliance Telephone Company (a GEC subsidiary)
and in the public network of the Irish P&T and
some Commonwealth countries. Examples also turn up with the
branding 'Air Ministry' on the base. Prestige installations
included the ocean liner Queen Mary and the Royal Train (it
is understood that the ivory Gecophones aboard the latter have
been retained at the wish of Prince Charles). Many telephones
from the Queen Mary reached the collector and antique markets a
few decades ago; they are recognisable by the labels in the dial
dummies inviting users to place calls to any destination
world-wide. These phones were also installed by the LMS Railway
at their prestige golfing hotel at Gleneagles in Scotland. In
central London the bookshop H. K. Lewis (in Gower Street) had
black Gecophones all over the store until the 1970s or 1980s.
A model not infrequently seen is the modified version that was
made for use on board Royal Navy ships. The handset is restrained
by metal guides and a movable retaining clamp and the telephone
itself sits on a plinth. The dial label is chemically
etched from brass. The telephone itself is an amazing concoction
of case (marked AP 12688, AP standing for Admiralty Pattern),
handset AP 12691 and base AP 16667. The case is a standard
Gecophone case but the circuitry is similar to the BPO Telephone 332
and is too large to all fit inside the Gecophone case (hence the
plinth). Assembly was done by AEI Ltd at their Spennymoor works
and examples have been seen with dates as late as 1966 (by which
time the Gecophone shape was looking distinctly out-of-date).
As mentioned above, the name Gecophone was used for to brand the
companys domestic radio sets as well. There was a Junior
Gecophone (an office intercom phone), also the New Gecophone
(alias the GPO Telephone No. 706).
Dating a telephone:
Difficult, as GEC did not stamp dates on the base like the GPO did. One
has to go by the model number, to find an approximate date or a date stamp
on the capacitor. Another place is under the dial rim - drop the dial
out to view.
Circuit diagrams for the dial model and how to convert
to Plug and Socket
List of Gecophones
|Gecophone used on a ship - Note the handset restraint
Click on the picture for more information
Inside of a Gecophone - this model has only one capacitor,
which is on the rear of the baseplate.
(disregard the line cord wire colours).
The model illustrated dates from 1934.
Gecophone K and Gecophone 1000
1956 the Gecophone K or Gecophone 1000 appeared. In the GEC Journal
(August 1956) and on pictures from the GEC marketing files it is called the
Gecophone K, but it is also called the Gecophone 1000 on some of the GEC
The design of its case was identical to the Gecophone but had a more modern handset and
updated internal circuitry. The handset is of the hollow handle type, titled Handset No. 1
by the BPO, and accommodates the then newly developed 4T receiver
(rocking armature type).
Called the 1000 because the phones circuitry was designed to work on
1000 ohm lines, this meant the cable sizes in a network could be reduced
in size, thus presenting substantial cost savings in line plant. It also
meant that the phone had a market in places were long lines were the norm.
It is not know how many of these were produced or when
production ceased, but it could be assumed that the phone was part of the trail
for a 1000 ohm line telephone and that the GEC 1000
Telephone superseded it.
However, the wall variant of Gecophone was still produced and
the Muraphone K.
For more pictures of the Gecophone K - click
GEC technical article on
the 1000 type range of telephones
A small telephones designed for use as a stand alone intercom system,
with other Juniors, or part of a master-phone system, where the Junior
telephones would be used as remote stations.
These phones could be wall or desk mounted.
Click here for more information
The New Gecophone
GEC in around 1959 started to produce the 700 type plastic cased
range of telephones. Initially they called these The New Gecophone, but
later renamed them to match the numbers of the GPO sets i.e. GEC 706.
Originally the phone also had a wall mounted variant, which
effectively was a the phone inverted with a metal bracket, which held the
handset, fixed to the case.
Click here for more information