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Here you can view our range of telephone handsets that show how the technology has changed from the earliest devices that were encased in wooden boxes to the Bakelite rotary dial models and onwards to the GPO 700 series, Trimphone, special edition phones and then finishing with the modern era and cordless handsets. Detailed information about each of the phones in our collection can be obtained by clicking on the title of the relevant section.

Image of a GPO 200 series Bakelite telephone

Vintage Telephones

The first telephones contained nothing more than a microphone and earpiece and were normally wall mounted. However, the invention of the rotary dial changed that and within the UK, Bakelite started to be used for manufacturing telephones. This led to two iconic designs, the 200 and 300 series.

Image of a GPO 700 series rotary dial phone

GPO 700 Series

The GPO 700 series of telephones was introduced in 1959 with the 706 design. This, together with the later 746 design (1967) became the standard offering for subscribers in the UK and remained so through until the 1980s. Its plastic design also provided subscribers with a choice of colours for the first time.

A rotary dial Trimphone


The Trimphone - Tone Ringer Illuminated Model Phone - was hotly sought after as the most stylist telephone of its time. Promoted as sleek, compact, feather light and the phone of the future, its modern looks were further enhanced by the use of an electronic warble ringer instead of the traditional bell and a luminous dial!

Dawn telephone part of the GPO special telephone range

Commemorative and Special Range Telephones

Special anniversaries and events have been celebrated with special editions of standard telephone handsets. For example, the Queen's Silver Jubilee of 1977 was celebrated with a version of the Compact telephone. Later in the 1970s the GPO released various unusual designs known as the Special Range.

Homer Simpson novelty phone

Novelty Telephones

Here we look at the fun and sometimes weird incarnations of the humble telephone and ask whether there is anything that cannot be made into a telephone?

A Converse 1200 push button telephone

General Telephones

With a growing number of telephone subscribers to cater for and improvements in technology so too the telephone began to become more advanced. The rotary dial was replaced by push buttons and new * and # keys began to appear. Electronics within the telephone allowed for last number re-dial and the storage of commonly called numbers. With all of these advances though, the design of the handset has very much returned to its utility function with white replacing black as the standard colour.