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 or