How to buy a Trimphone

So you want to buy an original Trimphone? This guide is about how to get a good working model.

We usually recommend eBay as the best place to get a bargain. However, great care is needed to make sure you get a genuine original phone, rather than a modern reproduction, or a phone made up from a selection of new and old parts.

Colour

Trimphone 722 in the full range of colours

Courtesy of BT Heritage

The most obvious visible clue is the colour of the phone and handset. Trimphones were originally supplied in only the following three colour combinations (see right):

BodyHandset
Olive greenDarker green
BlueDark blue
WhiteGrey(*)

(*)Fading can make the colours look different. The white/grey phone usually appears ivory with a light beige handset.

The Snowdon Collection (1982) added a new range of colours:

BodyHandset
Olive GreenBeige
Dark RedRed
Dark OrangeOrange
BlackGrey
TurquoiseLight blue
BrownCream

Trimphones in any other combination of colours are not genuine. There may have been a few one-off trials of phones in different colours, but these are exceptionally rare.

Since new Trimphones were launched a few years ago opportunities for customising older phones have presented themselves, so check the colour combinations very carefully before buying.

Numbers and letters on the base

Letters and numbers on the base are a very good guide to the age and model of the phone and can help greatly in determining if the phone is genuine.

All GPO phones and early BT phones were stamped with a model number, a manufacturer's code and a date, year. For example,

1/722L TCH/69

is stamped on the base of a white/grey Trimphone. 1/722L is the model number and L means it has a lettered dial. TCH means STC in Larne, Northern Ireland and 69 means 1969.

Sometimes the month is given as well as a number.

I have seen TCE (STC in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland), TCH (STC in Larne, Northern Ireland), GEN (GEC in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham), SPK (Plessey in Speke, Liverpool) stamped on Trimphones. There may be others.

Read our guide to Trimphone models to get an idea of what model numbers to expect.

Phoenixphones (Snowdon Collection) were refurbished telephones. They therefore carried a special type of model number. You should find TELE 8776 or TELE 8722 together with BATCH SAMPLED FWR 82. FW refers to BT's own factory GPO in Cwmcarn, Wales. 'R' stands for 'refurbished'. All Snowdon Collection phones were made up from parts from older phones. This label is a black sticker with white writing. It can be removed, probably revealing an older label referring to the original phone. So you can see Snowdon phones with older dates. This may lead to some collectors thinking they have an old phone in an unusual colour.

Type of dial

Most dial Trimphones had a clear plastic dial fingerplate. There are very few with a lettered dial. Most had just numbers.

Condition

Look for phones in good condition. Avoid heavily faded examples. You can usually tell if a Trimphone has faded badly because the part of the phone hidden by the handset will appear to be a different shade.

Most have been rewired for modern use, but you can usually get a bargain if a phone has not been rewired and is in good cosmetic condition.

Reproduction?

There are a number of reproduction Trimphones on the market made by 'Wild and Wolf' and by Steepletone. The seller should make it clear that the phone is a reproduction, but if not, look out for unusual colours. Wild and Wolf phones have push button dials, but arranged in a ring, like a dial phone. Steepletone phones have a standard type dial.

If you want to buy a reproduction Trimphone, the 'Wild and Wolf' Trimphones are pretty good copies of the original. Steepletone Trimphones, in my opinion, are less so.

What to pay

Based on a review of sold prices on eBay this is our assessment of Trimphone prices.

You should not need to pay more than £30 for a standard Trimphone in good cosmetic condition and in working order. Snowdon collection phones are worth more.

Rare models such as the 712 Trimphone and Trimphones with lettered dials will be worth more.

By Steven Braggs, April 2014

Your comments

Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Captcha Image
Powered by Commentics

Comments

don wilson
Hi Steven - thanks for you reply/advice, I have just acquired a wild and wolf push button trim phone. A better performing phone than my original 1970s Trip phone. Its newer and has the hatch key on it. Cheers Don
Jessica
Hi, I also have the trimphone with same label on the bottom reads TELE 2/722F PO FD1 BATCH SAMPLED FWR 78/2 Does anyone know how I can get the ringer to work? There is a dial tone and my mobile can call it, however there is no ring tone. Any advice how I can phone mobiles as it says the number is no recognised? Thanks
Graeme Elliott
I can convert old GPO phones and also fit a rotating device to allow use of #key etc Contact me at beerhillwoodwork@outlook.com
Wayne Lawton
Recently purchased trimphone described as vintage two tone grey Dial label reads TELE 2/722F PO FD1 BATCH SAMPLED FWR 78/2 Please advise - thank youKK
Steven
This is a standard 1970s trimphone. It was refurbished by the GPO in 1978. I guess it was originally installed from 1971 on wards. best regards
 
   
Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★