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How to Spot a Fake Dial Candlestick and Wood Telephone

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Fake telephone Mouthpieces click here!

Over the last 30 years many repro candlestick telephones were manufactured in Korea for US. They were counterfeit in the sense that they were marked with Western Electric markings, patent dates, and the like. Most out there were brassed out --meaning that they were brass without being painted. They are easy to mistake for the real thing, and this web page is designed for the beginner collector out there, who isn't sure whether he or she just found a 1927 dial candlestick or a 1972 version!


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 Typical repro dial candlestick

 The real thing!



The first thing to look at is the dial. The repro sticks used Automatic Electric (AE) dials. They can be differentiated from WE dials at a glance by the location of the finger stop. The WE finger stop is located at approximately 3:00 whereas the AE dial has a finger stop at the 5:00 position. The AE dials also had a dull silver appearance to the side; WE dials were painted black on the side. The dial pictured below is an AE (and a late AE dial at that). Now do keep in mind that anyone can add a old dial and that blows this out of the water.


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 Note the position of the finger stop. It is also mounted with a Phillips-head screw, which didn't even exist in the 1920's! It's been painted black. The patent dates seem real but they are not. The felt is coarse and also Korean made. AE finger wheels bent down at the edges while WE finger wheels were flat.

 The real thing. Here's a WE #2 or #4 dial.
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another thing! The pin that keeps the base from turning is a pin on the old one and a tab on the latest new ones.

One more thing look closely at the old base. It looks like it is sunken in and the new one looks like it is puffed up a little.

Now let's examine the tag:

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 Examine this tag: it fairly shouts repro! Note that the edge of the tag is peeling off, the lettering is too big, and in fact looks very little like the original. There were glued on!

 The real thing. And it is usually hard to read. if it says American Tel & Tel CO or WESTERN ELECTRIC CO. it is old! There will be 2 rivets to hold it on too!


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Notice the base has a felt that is glued on and is very hairy (Poor Felt). Or it is very smooth and if you look close you will find it is a self sticking (Plastic backed) new product!




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This repo receiver has been used for years. Inside you will find a pot metal plug for weight. On the caps of the old one it is clearly stamped 706A. These are now starting the break up. If you find a receiver that is cracked around the middle it is most likely a repo.



Other hints

Many of the repo's have been stamped NOV 1910 on the back cup (as one collector put it, "avoid sticks labeled NOV 1910 like the plague!")

Some of the repro sticks don't have the tag at all.

The following list should help a little more!

1. Wavy pattern in faceplate, no identifying tag.
2. Flashing in cord hole of receiver.
3. Korean repo's were all stamped "51AL."
The importer of these repo's sent an original 51AL to Korea to have it copied. There are original 51AL dial candlesticks. I have also seen Old parts put on new repo sticks. Ebay and other online auctions is a good place to find these hybrid stick because the dealers can paint them and call them old.
4. The bottom covering is glued-on, light felt-like substance, a Korean specialty. But this can be changed
5. See the big rivet in the switch hook? Another "trade mark."
6. AE dial. All of the repro's came with AE dials. But this too can be changed.
7. Very deep stamping of date information on back of cup.
8. Wavy stamping of transmitter perch.
9. Big rivet in switch hook.
10. Improper stamping of dates on front of base.
11. Improper alignment of transmitter to base (not always Korean, either).
12. Weak switch springs (new spring stock deforms easily).

And one more from friend.: a flattened, wide grommet surrounding the cord hole on the back of the base.

If in doubt, unscrew the bottom plate and look inside. If you find a zinc plated stem screw and it looks like fresh brass you have a fake.

Also there may be any combination of parts on a candle stick to make it look as though it is a more desirable telephone. Don't be fooled! If you have any questions please let me know at oldtelephone@gmail.com

There are a lot of fakes out there, in flea markets, antique stores, and in on-line auctions. Many dealers themselves believe they have the real thing and aren't intentionally trying to pass the fake off as the real thing, so don't be too hard on them. Just Ask me first! 

Wood Telephone Fakes!

1. Look for wood that is straight grained. Very little oak was used that was straight grain most were quarter sawn oak (tiger oak)

2. Look for the routered edge that does not match the rest of the phone. Most antique dealers can not match the craftsmanship of the original makers. But be wear! Some can! (Like myself)
3. Just because a part is polished brass does not mean it is new. Look for sharp edges, uneven lines and parts that do not match up! If there is a question email me or I would pass! Many antique dealers will buy the cheapest part to complete the phone and get it sold. Or put together telephones from all new parts and call it a old telephone. Is this the telephone you want in your home?
4. If being Original is important to you buy the phone for me or someone like me! Make sure to ask what is new and ask a 2nd opinion! 

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Look close at this phone. Most all the parts on this phone are new. All the way down to the wood. This antique dealer wanted to sell it as old and even went as far as to have a phony appraisal done. Beware! If you ever have any questions take a picture and send it to me. On wood telephones look for straight grain and parts that look crappy. In the old days telephone makers were proud of their work and parts were smooth and even. Look close at the pictures of the hook switches. Notice how far away from the phone the receiver hangs! Too far away from the phone!

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I can not see one old part can you?
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This has been aged to look old but the tail tale signs are still there. New straight grain wood, Repo transmitter and receiver, VTS payphone stuff. NEW TELEPHONE!!!!!

Here we have a classic example of a man with way too much time on his hands. We do have a old mag and ringer but all else is new. The cathedral to is not right on a 2 box phone. the flatness of the base of the transmitter is Taiwan. On eBay it was trying to be sold as an old original phone. If you want to bid on these phone and want to make sure send me the eBay add I will let you know.

There are many fake or reproduction Wood telephones. If you notice in the telephone above the oak wood is a straight grained (Cheapest to cut) and not quarter sawn (Most expensive to cut)

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This repo phone is being sold as a old Western Electric 202b1 the earliest desk phone. 

These are not old! These were made in Taiwan in the 70's - late 80's. Worth $20-$30 and usually do not work as they were made very cheap! Most have ended up in the brass scrap pile!


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