ELECTRIC #20AL DESK PHONE
The Western Electric Number 20 series desk telephones
made its debute in 1904 with the model No.
20B. The improved model No. 20AL, a non-dial candlestick telephone
with a 1915 patent date, was in production for more than a decade.
The 20AL is similiar to its predessor but does have a few major
differences and improvements. The most prominant change was that
the cast brass perch was replaced with a more streamlined drawn
sheet brass perch. Two transmitter wires are routed from the telephone's
electrical contacts through the hollow perch and into the bottom
of the hollow transmitter cup. This change resulted in the elimination
of the previously exposed transmitter wire entering into the back
of the cup.
The metal parts of the phone were made of brass. While some
phones were still nickel plated, the majority of the 20AL phones
produced were painted with a black "japan" finish. "Japans"
were asphalt-like varnishes that are baked on the brass to produce
a durable surface.
After World War I, the 40AL was introduced. This candlestick
is identical in appearance and function to the No. 20AL, but the
base and the tube shaft were made of steel. The steel parts were
not "japaned" rather it was given a chemical finish
produced by oxidizing the surface in the presence of steam and
oil leading to a hard dark gray appearance.
Return to the Antique Telephone History Photo Page
Go to the Main Page