Although always known as the 200 type telephone, this phone, the Tele 232, was originally produced as the Tele 162, see second image. The design originated from Siemens Brothers, who marketed their own version using the ‘Neophone’ brand. Like the Type 150 candlestick, the phone used a separate bellset (Bellset 25 with the 162 – with induction coil; and Bellset 26 with the 232). Phones could be mounted on the bellset where a single piece set was required. The bellset under the 162 looks reasonable to me, but the 232 type had a drawer in the base for dialling codes and combined sets used this base underneath the bellset, which makes the whole ensemble bulky and rather clumsy. Siemens Brothers never used the tray base and their own bellset was slimmer, so their combined set is much more pleasing to the eye in my opinion; see third image.
The arrangement of the Bellset and coils was not the only difference between the 162 and the 232. Generally speaking, the 162 of 1929 had a plain base, while the 232, introduced in 1934, not only had the drawer for a dialling code card, but also the design of the handset forks changed, as shown below. The 232s had a wider design of forks, which allowed the phone to be picked up.
It is hard today to realise how modern this phone was when introduced in 1929. Although bakelite had been used for the mouthpieces on later candlestick phones, the extensive use of moulded bakelite and the design of the one piece handset were then quite striking. As mentioned above, the design was originally produced by Siemens Brothers but most of the UK manufacturers also supplied it and often they would have proprietary variants for the private and export markets. As well as Siemen’s Neophone, GEC produced the one-piece Gecophone.
The 232 was still being produced as late as 1956, since the PO never considered that the 300 type, with internal bell, was a complete replacement.
For use in tropical environments, vents were added to the top of the body and covered by a hooded handset rest, known as ‘tropical forks’.