Western Electric Design Line
Sewing Machine -
Automatic Answering Service
"Mirrophone" wire ribbon recorder/player
- Bell Chime
Click on the above "Phone Center Store" logo to
view a scan of the Phone Center Store pamphlet.
We Offer Personalized One-On-One
Call Us Today at (651) 787-DIAL (3425)
An article on the introduction of Phone
Center Store concept was scanned from the September/October 1974 edition of the
"Bell Telephone Magazine." You can read the PDF document created from this
article by clicking HERE.
models were introduced to customers in 1974
(source: Focus - 1993 Innovation Annual Report by AT&T)
"The telephone housing is your property.
To assure quality of service, all working parts, e.g., dial, cords, and
electrical components remain the property and responsibility of the Bell
Telephone Company." - sticker found on most Design Line telephones
indicating that the phone company still owns the "guts" of the telephone you
bought during the Bell System era.
The following material was sent to by Robert F.
Martina, a long time Western Electric employee who held several high positions
including manager of engineering. From a Western Electric marketing notebook called "The Telephone Book":
"DESIGN LINE* telephones are the way in which Western Electric meets the
needs of customers who want "a little something extra" in their telephones.
These stylish telephones are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and
colors. Whether it be antique or contemporary, any decor will be enhanced by
the addition of a DESIGN LINE* telephone."
Also in the Western Electric marketing notebook
mentioned above are some nice color photos along with product information on the
Design Line models. We have scanned those pages and provided links to them
(Side A and Side B) in the following list of the Design Line models in production around 1980.
Some of the files are about half of a megabyte so may be slow downloading if you are
using a dial-up modem connection.
* Trademark of AT&T Co
# Trademark of American Telecommunications Corporation
## Registered Trademark of American Telecommunications Corporation
** © Walt Disney Productions - Housing Produced by American Telecommunications
*** Housing manufactured by American Telecommunications Corporation
PEANUTS characters © 1958, 1965 United Feature Syndicate, Inc
® Registered Trademark of AT&T Co
**** Trademark of Kinsho Mataichi International Corporation - Housing Produced
by Fujikura Plastics Company, Ltd
NOTE: A big
thanks to those of you that contributed images and documentation for this web
page on the Design Line series of Western Electric telephones!
Arthur P. Bloom - ATCA #1783
- My installers’/repairmen’s handbook from the early 70’s lists
the Design Line phones. Accent, Antique Gold, Candlestick,
Celebrity, Chestphone, Coquette, Early American, Elite, Elite
Commemorative, Exeter, Mediterranean, and Stowaway.
"When a customer orders Design Line
phone service, they (sic) own the housing. It comes with a six-month
warranty and will be repaired or replaced at no extra charge during that
period. The inside working components (such as dialing mechanism,
electrical components and cords) remain the property of New York
Telephone and are supplied and maintained as part of the standard
monthly rate. If anything goes wrong with the phone’s operation,
New York Telephone will fix it at no additional charge for as long as
the customer has Design Line phone service."
Unlike the standard telephones made by Western Electric, these phones were
not built as rugged or to the same quality levels as the earlier Western
Electric phones. These were marketed from an appearance standpoint
more than a durability standpoint.
The one-time charges ran from $49.95 for
the Exeter, to $109.95 for the Antique Gold and Elite Commemorative
No mention is made of the situation where
a customer wishes to retain the housing, but terminate service. Perhaps
this was a situation that occurred so rarely, that it was not addressed
in the handbook.
The Design Line telephone names are
described later in my handbook as being Registered Trademarks of the
American Telecommunications Corporation, with the exception of the
Coquette, which was a Trademark of USTEL.
They are described as "Portable
models", which meant that they were equipped with 4-prong plugs,
and required a 4-hole jack to be installed, with a Service Order Charge
of $14.50 plus a one-time $18.10 installation charge for a jack (if the
subscriber did not already have one installed).
The WE design line phone
was made completely by Western. Some of the design line phones, Mickey,
Snoopy, plastic candlesticks etc were made by ATC (now COMDIAL) and
contained WE guts or guts from independents, GTE etc. Many of the design
line phones were completely made by WE, i.e., the Celebrity and Exeter for
example. For more pictures of the Telstar model, click
The photos of the Telstar model are by John
An excellent web page
by Paul Fassbender lists the
various models of Design Line phones and has the Bell
System Practices index for Design Line models. Paul also has a lot of
other Western Electric phones on his website - click
HERE for his home page.
The following images were
sent to by Rick Gast. Thank you, Rick, for this contribution.
*Additional notes on the Celebrity
model from Sam Corcione:
"It was available in Ivory with gold-tone
trim or as yours in light blue with silver-tone trim. These were available
for purchase from the local Bell telephone company usually at a Phone Center
Store. They first came out around 1973 and were manufactured in the
Indianapolis Works Plant on Shadeland Avenue, and were first offered to
Indiana Bell customers in Evansville, IN along with about 4 other models. I
have a price list from December of 1980 that shows the retail cost to be
$139.00 to Illinois Bell customers. At first the deal was that you owned the
shell and they owned the inner workings and would pay $1.50 a month for
maintenance on the inner workings. That changed in later years that they
would sell you the whole phone. I would venture to say that they stopped
manufacturing these around January of 1984."
Carson, a member of the ATCA club, has quite a collection of Design Line
telephones. Click on the thumbnail images below to enlarge: