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 Western Electric Design Line

 

Sewing Machine - Automatic Answering Service
"Mirrophone" wire ribbon recorder/player
Telephones - PicturePhone - 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 Service!

Call Us Today at (651) 787-DIAL (3425)

The Western Electric Store

 

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.


The DESIGN LINE 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 Corporation
*** 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."

Webmaster's note:  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 models.

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 Telstar,  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 here, here, and here.  The photos of the Telstar model are by John L. Lovell.

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.

Accent
Blue Blue White Yellow Yellow

American
Wall Phone
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3

Copies of
advertisements
Image
1
Image
2
Image
3
Image
4
Image
5

Big Button

Image 1

Image 2 Image 3

Celebrity*
Blue
Rotary1
Blue
Rotary2
Ivory
Rotary1
Ivory
Rotary2
Ivory
Tone

Chestphone
- Ship -

Leather1

Optique1 Woodgrain1

Leather2

Woodgrain2
Optique1
Woodgrain3
Leather3
Leather4
Woodgrain4
Optique1
Woodgrain5
Leather5

Country
Image 1 Image 2

Country Junction
Rotary1 Touchtone Need the technical info on this phone? Click HERE to download the BSP section - courtesy of Jim Burnham
Rotary2

Coquette
Off-Hook On-Hook Portrait

Cradle Phone
Early American1 Antique1 Mediterranean1
Antique2
Early American2
Mediterranean2
Antique3
Antique4
Mediterranean3
Early American3
Antique5

CandleStick
Black Red Stars
and
Stripes
White1 White2

Elite
(green and gold)
Commemorative
Medallion
Image1 Image2

Exeter
Brown
Touchtone1
Brown
Touchtone2
White
Rotary

Kermit
(Character Phone)
Front View Back View Off-Hook

Mickey Mouse
(Character Phone)
Rotary Tone1 Tone2

Noteworthy
(a.k.a., the "chalkboard" or "corkboard phone)
Rust1 Rust2 Rust3 Yellow1 Yellow2

Pooh Bear
(Character Phone)
Tone1 Tone2

Sculptura
(a.k.a. the
"doughnut" phone)
Brown
Touchtone
White
Touchtone
Pink Rotary

Pink was not an official color for this model.  This one was likely painted later by a collector.

Yellow
Rotary
Yellow
Touchtone

Snoopy
(Character Phone)
Rotary Touchtone1 Touchtone2 Touchtone3

Stowaway
(Jewelry Box)
Oiled Walnut
closed
Mediterranean
closed
Roll Top
angle closed
Mediterranean
middle
Roll Top
angle open
Oiled Walnut
open
Roll Top
closed
Mediterranean
open
Roll Top
open
Oiled Walnut
twin view
Roll Top
portrait
Mediterranean
twin view

Telstar
view1 view2 view3 view4
Miscellaneous Design Line and non-standard Western Electric telephones:

*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."

John Carson, a member of the ATCA club, has quite a collection of Design Line telephones.  Click on the thumbnail images below to enlarge:
 

 

 

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