Sold by the National Telephone Company (NTC) this small telephone was effectively a handset that hung on a rosette with an associated call button. These were also known as "parlour phones" and would generally be wired into a new or existing electric bell circuit (used in large homes to call servants). The handset is 7.5in in length.
To use the phone, the bell at the far end would be called by pressing the bell call button on the rosette and conversation would then take place using another Metaphone at the servants end. This was a one way signalling system with a bell located close to the servants handset.
The Metaphone was also used in some Royal Navy ships before and possibly during World War I. It was deemed unsuitable for use with motor generators when tested at Vernon. They worked well with a battery supply.
Mention is made in 1906 of Metaphone use being extended to provide two pairs to all 2nd and 3rd class cruisers and scouts for use as their commanders saw fit over existing bell circuits. In the same year, it was also noted that these had been supplied so that each ship with an admiral or commodore would have three pairs, and two pairs to all battleships, cruisers and scouts.
When the NTC closed for business GEC sold similar phones, one of which was the "Little Geeko" and the GPO could provide the Telephone No. 29.
The end which was to be called, which would generally be the Kitchen or Servants Quarters, would be fitted with a 3 volt battery, a bell and a rosette, that short circuited the two wire line when the handset was hung up. At the distant end the rosette was fitted with a rosette that disconnected the 2 wire line when the handset was hung up. This method of wiring allowed many distant end Metaphones to be connected to the single handset located in the kitchen or servants quarters.
Metaphone - Front
Metaphone - Rear
Metaphone hanging in a living room, to the right of a fire place.
Lift attendant using a Metaphone
NTC reply to an enquiry
Last revised: June 13, 2022