By Mike Davis, ATCA #2022


The Gray 75A three slot payphone was made for the Automatic Electric Company. The 75A overall looks similar to the other phone of its time except for one major difference, it has an iron “shoe” on the front. That part got the shoe nickname before my time but that is what it looks like. While my phone has no dial pocket cut into the front, some later variations do and on those the shoe has an extension coming out of the top, that goes in back of the card frame, to support the instruction card.


The 75A wasn’t just made for a short time, it was made for several decades and many changes occurred over the years. This phone is a very early one. It has a cast iron upper housing similar to a 50A and a very small instruction card and card holder.  At the top of the shoe is the AE swivel type transmitter mount and at the bottom is the dial. I believe the reason for this design was to be able to accommodate the Automatic Electric dial. This particular paystation has a type 24 dial and a nickel plated 3C transmitter. The lock for the upper housing is a 10-E which uses a flat key. The inside coin chute is lead, made for 5 cent operation. There are no internal coin transmitters as on a handset phone. The transmitter in the talking circuit picks up the sound of the coins as they hit the bell and gong on their decent to the hopper.  The hopper is the early type with small bolts and nuts holding it together.  The coin relay is an early gray, double coil type.

According to Stan Schreier who is very knowledgeable about patents and dates Gray didn’t have a patent for a coin relay until later and this phone should have a Western Electric relay. This phone has a very long wood terminal strip on the backboard where the connections are made and where the upper housing connects to the rest of the unit.  The lower housing is marked “THE GRAY PAYSTATION TELEPHONE COMPANY” with nothing below it. Most models made by Gray that weren’t for the Bell System also had “HARTFORD, CONN, U.S.A.” This phone has the very early flat steel vault door with a 10L lock. The coin tray is open. This model is pre-pay which means the coin is deposited first then the number is dialed. The Gray model 750 is similar to this but would be used in an area that had post-pay equipment. One other thing I want to mention is that Gray also made a type 76A which is the same as this one except for the coin chute which was made to accept Canadian coins. Next time I will look at 2 different phones that are very similar, the Western Electric 212 and the 210.


Visit the Antique Telephone Collectors Association