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1958 Red Rotary Phone, Western Electric

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This WORKING vintage dark red rotary phone from 1958 is a rare Western Electric model 512 with secretarial function. Known as the Secretarial Set, it is marked on the back “Bell System, Made by Western Electric”. Underneath is stamped “512 BUR” which denotes model 512 and burgundy color. A sticker “10/70” indicates that the set was refurbished in October 1970. The original manufacturing date has been painted over as it often is when a set is refurbished. Inside, however, on the network block as well as beneath the rotary dial are stamped the numbers “8/ 58” – for August 1958 (see 5th photo).

The Western Electric 500 series telephone was introduced in 1949, and the model 512 was said to be popular in the Washington, DC area, particularly in upscale apartment complexes. The TEL LINE/ SECRETARIAL knob was used to redirect calls to a secretary or answering service. It is likely that on this set this function has been disabled, so the unit works like a regular rotary telephone.

The set has been cleaned and tested. The ringer is set on high, but inside the set is a lever that adjusts the ringer volume to low if desired.

The set has bakelite plungers and thick leather feet, a feature which was discontinued in 1958 – being replaced by triangular neoprene, and then in the 1960s, round ones. The bakelite handset has a good weight to it, and the rotary dial spins with a sturdy smoothness.

There are some minor scratches as to be expected for a working item this age, but otherwise the set is in very good vintage condition. The grey wall cord has been updated for modular plug so it’s ready to go! But please note that rotary phones such as this require a land line that supports pulse dialing and may not work with some digital phone services.

Measurements: 5” high; 8-3/4” long; 5” wide.
Length of wall cord: 6' 10".

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1958 Red Rotary Phone, Western Electric

Overview

  • Vintage item from the 1950s
  • Materials: bakelite, plastic, metal
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 148 reviews
  • Favorited by: 27 people