1937 A.C. Gilbert, Electric Telephone Set in Original Box

1937 A.C. Gilbert, Electric Telephone Set in Original Box

I have to admit that I was very reticent when I first purchased this toy. Although complete and in fantastic condition, I was told that it didn't work. But I figured "how difficult could it be to fix"? To check for breaks in the wiring, I unwound and then rewound all 50 feet of its original cloth insulated wiring onto the original hard rubber spool reel. I cleaned off all eight battery terminals, inserted fresh batteries, dialed and pressed the handset button, and guess what.....it didn't work. Then I read the directions! Just like a real telephone system one end must be hung up onto the receiver. So I hung up one receiver, pressed the handset button and heard a loud "whaaaaaaaa". It worked beautifully. I dialed a number, picked up the other phone. The sound transmission sounded like an old phonograph record, but it was clear. By the way, hanging up the other phone and pressing the handset button produced a different wailing sound!

So that's the story about this awesome electronically operated telephone set manufactured by A.C. Gilbert. It's complete with both telephones, both receivers, original wiring from the receiver to the phone, original 50 ft. of wire that I've already mentioned, plus it's original wire reel. Amazingly, the 50 feet of wire work just as they did 71 years ago. Nothing has been substituted. 

The telephones are black enamel painted steel. Each has a working rotary dial with a paper numbered label from 1-7. A Gilbert Toys sticker lies between the two ends of the receiver cradle. The left cradle has a wooden button transmitter which signals the other telephone to "pick-up". The hand receivers are also black enameled steel and are wired to the phones with two feet of rubber insulated wiring. The phones are wired as per the directions which are pasted to the underside of the box cover. The wire is wound around a 4" diameter hard rubber spool reel. The wire tends to become disentangled from the reel. I used white Teflon tape to keep it in place. It hasn't any adhesive and leaves no residue, is completely inert, and easily removed.

The set comes in its original display window box. The top part of the display folds down to protect the telephones while inside the box. The display is made from thick cardboard and have graphics of two teenage type lads talking to each other on their phones. "Real", "Modern", and" electrically operated" are some of the terminology used to promote the toy. The display window lays against the rear apron of the box bottom. The two side wings also lay against the side aprons. 

The box bottom has much of its original red apron lining missing. Curiously, a test card from an 1887 Reed Toy called the "World Educator" lines the bottom of the box bottom. 

The box cover was printed on glossy stock in yellow, red, and black. An accurate drawing of the toy appears on the top, front, and rear panels along with the A.C. Gilbert credo; "Hello Boys". The essential original instructions are still pasted to the underside of the cover. 

Size: Telephone 6" x 4" x 3½", Receiver 7½" long. Box 16" x 6½" x 4½". Weight 4lbs. 

Sold: Oct. 2008

Price Sold: $ 547


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Subject: 1937 A.C. Gilbert, Electric Telephone Set in Original Box

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