=History and Art at "Cookie Heights" Parson Street=(1926)
Sunday, January 2
1921 Western Electric Type 51 AL Desk Telephone
'Here is an absolutely gorgeous Western Electric Type 51 AL Desk Stand with a rare Type 295 AK subset made of quarter-sawed white oak. There are no reproduced parts unless stated. This all brass telephone has been completely disassembled, painstakingly refinished with numerous coats of hand-rubbed semi-flat black lacquer, laboriously hand polished and protected with Carnauba wax resulting in a deep, lustrous finish that cannot be achieved by any other method.
* Around the front edge of the base is embossed: PAT IN USA JAN 26 15 JAN 1 18 MAY 7 18 SEPT 21 20. On the back of the transmitter perch is embossed 51 AL. The nickel-plated mounting bolt polished out nicely.
* The dial is a No. 2 AB that has a like-new porcelain number plate that has red numbers and black letters and includes a Z and OPERATOR in the zero spot. Embossed on the finger stop is 2 AB. The finger stop polished out nicely. The finger wheel is painted brass. The brass number card escutcheon has been blued, like a gun and the number card and celluloid cover are original. I will put your 4, 5 or 7 digit number on a reproduced card at no cost, if you wish. On the back side of the dial case in embossed: WESTERN ELECTRIC PAT IN USA AUG 19 12 AUG 24 15 DES MAY 17 18 SEPT 19 21 MADE IN USA. The terminals embossed on the back side are are designated Y, BK, BB and W. This dial has been completely disassembled, cleaned and oiled with gun oil and the case has been repainted. It has that characteristic rasping sound when dialed and a tick-tick-tick sound when the dial is released. It is not a clickety-clack sound that I have seen in auctions for years. That is a sound made by a train's wheels when crossing joints in the rails. (You might call it a click-click sound - There is no clack.)
* The polished brass transmitter is a No. 323 BW. Embossed on the small plate under the mouthpiece is: 323 BW WESTERN ELECTRIC MADE IN USA PAT USA JAN 14 1913. This transmitter is a metal diaphram type and is complete and in good working order. The sound is very good. The Bakelite mouthpiece is original (with the star) and in like-new condition.
* The earlier Type 50 AL had three additional terminals on the switch plate and all of the cords and wires went into the stem and were connected to the switch and these terminals. There was a 4 wire cord to the dial. In the case of the 51 AL, all of the cords were connected in the base to the dial or to the single terminal pad, which was marked R and GN. The receiver is hooked to the GN terminal and the W terminal on the dial. There is an original D3B three wire cord that connects the dial and R terminal to the switch and one side of the transmitter.
* The receiver is a 143 W that is a bi-polar, metal diaphragm type. The cap and case are made of hard rubber. Around the cord end of the receiver is: PAT IN USA APRIL 16 1918 MAY 20 1913 JUNE 3 1913, very faintly. Embossed around the outer edge of the receiver cap, also very faintly, is: PROPERTY OF AMERICAN TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH CO. It polished out beautifully. The receiver cord is original and feels like it is wool, but it may be cotton. It is in like-new condition with a metal stay to the terminal plate.
* The New-Old-Stock 5' 6" D3A three wire wire mounting cord to the subset is silk sheathing over silk-covered wires (that are reinforced with cotton thread). It is in new and flawless condition with tie restraints in the subset and in the base. The bottom cover plate of the desk stand has its original leather cover that is in perfect condition with no cuts or tears, etc. I have re-dyed it and it is in better original condition than any other I have ever seen.
* The subset is an early Type 295 AK, is made from quarter-sawed white oak and is box jointed on the corners. It has been stained with a special alcohol-based stain and refinished with numerous coats of hand-rubbed clear lacquer and the door has been polished to a mirror-like finish. It has been protected with a coat of Carnauba wax. I have added a period water transfer decal reading, "Western Electric - COMPANY - PATENTED SEE DATES INSIDE". The lock is the screw operated type. This subset was originally an early 295 AK that was converted by Western Electric to a sidetone 534 A subset. (They also called this conversion a 434A.) As far as I can tell, a 295 AK was used to house equipment that was used by a railroad and was for both telephone and telegraph usage. This conversion to a sidetone subset was accomplished by removing all of the terminals that were along the right side and top of the interior and all of the parts. Accommodation for a ringer was then made. A 1400 Ohm ringer, a 46-C, 2 winding induction coil and 21-W 1 MF condenser were added to complete the conversion. This was a fairly common procedure during World War II because of the scarcity of materials. There is an accurate paper label, a copy of the original, on the inside of the door. There are two polished brass gongs that give a pleasant, old-fashioned sound on incoming calls. There are two oak strips along the 2 sides that elevates the box up slightly that would accommodate the several wires that would come out of the bottom. The lock escutcheon has been polished and re attached with new screws.
* Wood subsets were initially used for central battery desk stands without dials (such as the 20 AL) and were recycled and used well into the 1950's with all kinds of desk sets (many with dials) and were often painted black, after about 1930. Many were also converted to anti-sidetone. They often used wood and metal types of wall-mounted telephones and subsets and converted them from sidetone to anti-sidetone.
* Fully operational, it is equipped with a black line cord with an RJ-11 plug and all that is required is that one plug it in to the wall and it will work well. The sound quality is as good as can be found with a sidetone instrument.'