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Auctioneers to sell off “holy grail of telephones” found in Lichfield

A telephone found in Lichfield is expected to sell for thousands of pounds when it goes under the hammer.

The jade green phone found in Lichfield

The jade green phone found in Lichfield

The jade green item has been branded “the holy grail of telephones” and will be sold at an auction at Hansons Auctioneers.

The item dates back to 1934 and would have been used by someone of wealth, according to experts who have valued the item.

It was discovered in Lichfield by Hansons Auctioneers’ associate director and vintage telephone enthusiast Adrian Rathbone.

“This is the holy grail of telephones – a jade green 200 series dating from 1934,” he said. “In the 1930s, very few people had a telephone and those who could afford to have one had to rent them from the General Post Office.

“However, the vast majority of people were offered the standard model in any colour they liked – as long as it was black.

“Back in the 1930s, if you were affluent, a member of royalty or lucky enough to be a film star, you could apply to the GPO for a telephone in a colour other than standard black.

“Only three official additional colours were on offer – ivory, Chinese red and jade green. These were more expensive to make and incurred substantially increased rental fees.

“They were a luxury few could afford in the depression era. To have one was a statement of wealth.”

But it is not only the colour that makes the Lichfield find special, it is the design.

Mr Rathbone added: “When the GPO introduced the country’s first all-in-one telephone in 1929 it was revolutionary and replaced the previous clunky candlestick-types.

“This new model, the 200 series, was moulded entirely in gleaming Bakelite with the ear and mouthpiece as one unit. Meanwhile the body of the phone was an elegant pyramid form, echoing the Art Deco style of the day.

“Now considered a design icon, the standard British phone of the 1930s sits alongside the likes of the anglepoise lamp and VW Beetle among design aficionados. You can even buy a modern plastic version.

“Most old Bakelite telephones went into the skip when the GPO updated them with plastic, mass-produced models from 1959 onwards.

“However, some savvy GPO workers saved some from landfill and kept them for posterity. The green phone discovered by Hansons was such an example. One sold for more than £2,000 a few years ago.

“I love them because they look timeless and make a great statement in any interior. They are also proving to be a good investment. The jade models are considered to be the rarest of all the coloured models.”

The item will go up for sale on December 19.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

1 Comment

  1. Steve

    29th November, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    It was found in Fabs office.

    It’s the one he uses to speak to his constituents.

    Never been used.