Very rare and original British WW2 Scrambler Telephone Model No: 396 c.1938.
These fascinating telephones were used by the British government and military during the Second World War in order to deter the enemy from intercepting important classified information which was being relayed over the telephone.
The phones were designed to be connected to a large box of valve electronics at both ends of the line. One side would scramble the signal and the other would unscramble.
The telephone for sale is the 396 model and is in excellent original condition.
The handset, dated 1938, retains the remnants of the original green wartime paint. During WW2 the increased demand for scrambler phones sometimes caused shortages of green bakelite handsets. As an alternative, standard black handsets were then painted green, or were issued with a green mouthpieces and earcaps.
The base of the phone is correctly stamped with SA 5063/0 which denotes it to be a special apparatus model or scrambler set.
Importantly, the metal shield displaying “Secret” and “Engage for Secret” at the front of the phone is original and is the correct wartime variant. It is believed to be the oldest known arrangement and dates to around 1938 to 1940.
The original and correct circuit diagram for the phone is present and complete on the underside of the drawer.
The markings found on the interior chassis of “396LB” and “PL38/1” confirm that the base of the phone was manufactured in 1938, meaning the base and handset are original to each other. Furthermore, the letters “LB” denote that you should expect not expect find any dial attached to the phone, as would have been the case with most if not all scrambler sets. These factory markings also confirm that the phone has not been refurbished and remains in original condition.
The circular blanking panel warning the user that “SPEECH ON TELEPHONES IS NOT SECRET” reminded them that standard telephone lines were unprotected and that their conversations, especially during a war, were a target of enemy eavesdroppers. The Secraphone provided only limited protection.
The phone is in complete and original condition other than the circular blanking panel, centre card and drawer label which are all later day replacements.
Other original examples of these telephones can be viewed at the Cabinet War Rooms Museum in London where Winston Churchill himself would have used one throughout the war.
More detailed information in regard to these fabulous phones can be found online, a link to one such website can be found here: http://www.cryptomuseum.com/crypto/uk/secraphone/index.htm
Genuine and original Scrambler sets are very rare and highly collectible. As such, the set for sale represents an excellent opportunity to acquire an important piece of British militaria and telecoms history.