Phone Colors

  • The upper two charts are from Western Electric. They do not include all Western Electric colors, or all of the colors made by other phone manufacturers.

  • The third and fourth charts are for AT&T phones offered for rent, as of mid-2007.

  • Some phone colors -- such as black, white, ivory, light blue, green and beige -- were identical, whether made by Western Electric (ATT), Cortelco (ITT), Comdial (Stromberg-Carlson), or Northern Telecom (Nortel).

  • The red phones from ATT are darker than most red phones from the other companies.

  • Some red phones are described as "cherry red." Cherries come in different colors, so we say "dark red" and "bright red."

  • Older red phones from Northern Telecom are dark like ATT. Newer ones are bright red.

  • Most ATT yellow phones are lighter than the harvest gold used by other companies, but some are just as dark.

  • Northern Telecom originally used the same yellow as ATT, and later switched to harvest gold.

  • ATT "Design Line" phones were made in some colors not used for standard phones.

  • Some standard styles were made in unusual colors, such as teal blue, for just a few years.

  • ATT didn't make ash-colored phones, which were big sellers for the other phone makers.

  • Northern Telecom called ash "chameleon" or "chameleon gray" because it seemed to blend in anywhere.

  • Ash (or chameleon) is a light warm gray, like the color of a cigarette ash, or many PCs of the 1980s and 90s.

  • Some ITT phone boxes were labeled "ash-almond" in the 1980s because almond was a popular appliance color, and most people outside the phone business did not understand what "ash" was.

  • Phone color can change over the years, due to cigarette smoke, strong light, and airborne chemicals. Light blue may look like turquoise. White may look like yellow. Ivory may look like beige. Sometimes different parts of the same phone may have different color shifts.

A tale of two blues

The Consumer Electronics Show is a giant trade expo where makers of phones and other gadgets show their latest and greatest.

In the 1980s, Northern Telecom held a press conference to show what's new. They had recently concluded an extensive market research study, and as a result, they decided to discontinue deep blue phones.

At the end of the meeting, journalists walked down the hall to a press conference hosted by AT&T. AT&T also had recently concluded an extensive market research study, and as a result, they decided to produce phones in a blue color nearly identical to what their competitor had decided to drop.


  • The AT&T/Bell System ad below shows the same type of blue from the 1950s.

  • GTE had a similar blue in the late 1940s.

  • Panasonic introduced a similar blue phone color in 2007.

At one time, some of the Bell System companies offered standard phones in non-standard color combinations.

If you'd like a phone in your school colors, favorite colors, or just something weird, let us know. Price is $30 more than a standard boring phone.

You can choose colors for the following parts of a rotary-dial desk or wall phone:

  • body shell

  • dial

  • handset body

  • transmitter cap

  • receiver cap

  • handset cord

We can also customize new touch-tone phones. Instead of the dial, you can choose a faceplate color. Touch-tone wall phones have no faceplates.


Please email or call 1.203.878.8383 us if you have any questions or would like to place an order. Some colors may not be available, but we'll do our best for you.