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The Look for Less: Ericofon vs. Scandiphone

February 25, 2010 |  8:44 am

One of these land-line telephones -- remember them? -- is a genuine midcentury classic included in the Museum of Modern Art's industrial design collection. The other is a nearly identical contemporary version. 

The Ericofon, created by the Swedish phone giant L.M. Ericsson in the 1950s (and now, sadly, discontinued) was the lightest phone on the market at the time of its introduction. It also revolutionized the look of this common household object by concealing its dial on the bottom of the base, making it look more like a modernist figurine than a phone. To hang up, you simply set it back down on a table. 

At Ericofon, an entertaining and painstakingly researched website started 10 years ago by vintage phone collector Richard Rose, you can purchase refurbished vintage Ericofons. They start at $155 and rise to $795, depending on your choice of color, dialing system (rotary or touch tone) and era of manufacture. 

Not willing to drop so many dimes? You can get the Scandiphone, a recent remake of the Ericofon in red, black or white, for about $60 at myriad e-commerce sites.  

Which is which and which is better? Find out after the jump.

Ericof The phone shown on the near right, is one of Rose's vintage models, an Ericofon manufactured between 1963 and the mid-1970s by North Electric, a U.S. subsidiary of Ericsson. It has an authentic rotary dial and comes in mandarin red for $155. 

The phone on the far right is Wild & Wolf's push-button Scandiphone, which costs about $60 at online retailers including Velocity and Delight. (To receive 15% off this phone and everything else on Delight.com through March 12, use code LATimes at checkout.)

Rose calls the Scandiphone "a new entrant in the knock-off market," but adds, "One thing I will give it credit for is that they used a one-piece shell that is so close to the original Ericofon, it's hard to tell the difference." 

Rose, of course, can tell. According to him, the Ericofon has a satisfying heft due to its durable plastic shell. As for the Scandiphone: "They're good for the person who wants that Ericofon look without the vintage original price tag," Rose said, adding jokingly, "The cheap construction is only a factor if you start using it for a hammer."

-- David A. Keeps

Photo: Original North Electric-made Ericofon. Credit: Richard Rose / Ericofon.com; Wild & Wolf's retro reproduction Scandiphone. Credit: Delight.com