It is actually possible to date a vintage greenback with some accuracy, without looking at the date code at all. Year by year Celestion made small visible changes to their speakers, so an easy way to verify the manufacture date is just to look at these features. The most obvious ones being:
- Colour of the magnet cover
- Cone stamp
- Location and general appearance of the date stamp
If you can familiarise yourself with the transition periods for these details you will find it a lot easier and quicker to date your speakers more accurately.
If you are trying to date an old greenback we can immediately narrow the possibilities down to between 1965 to 1980 because this is the only time they were being made (1964 and 1981 are possible, but very unlikely). No more of this 1956 nonsense please! The first reissue greenbacks came out in the late 1980’s – I will not be mentioning those here.
Shown below are some of the most obvious features through the years.
Note – any dates mentioned are mostly based on the T1221 model and should be used as rough guidance only, transitional overlaps should be expected.
The colour of the magnet cover gives us an approximate date range for when the speaker was made.
- Rola Thames Ditton label only = mid 64 to early 66
- Green = Jan 66 to Aug 73
- Grey = Aug 73 to Apr 74
- Cream = Apr 74 to Apr 75
- Black = Apr 75 to 80
Note – If you are struggling to date a mid 70’s creamback speaker, it is very likely the date code is printed in reverse. This was very common during the creamback period, and trips up a lot of people.
Date Code Location & Appearance
Through the years Celestion moved the location of the date stamp and altered its appearance:
- On the front gasket = 52 to Mar 68
- Horizontally on the frame leg = Apr 68 to Dec 68
- Vertically on the frame leg = Jan 69 onwards
- Additional inspection letter included = Jan 69 to Sep 73, & Sep 74 to Sep 76.
- Day of the month missing = Dec 71 to Sep 72
- Rola Thames Ditton labels = mid 64 to early 66
- “Pre-rola” 15 Ohm labels = Jan 66 to Apr 68
- “Pre-rola” 15 Ohm labels with “5w more” sticker = Apr 68 to Aug 68
- “Pre-rola” 16 Ohm labels = Aug 68 to Apr 71
- “Transitional” Rola Ipswich labels (no speaker symbol) = Apr 71 to Dec 71
- Rola Ipswich labels = Dec 71 to 80
- The ‘1 tab’ chassis – used upto mid 1969. The solder terminal does not usually have cutouts at the sides
- The ‘4 tab’ chassis – used mid 1969 onwards. Solder terminal usually has side cutouts.
The transition between the two chassis types was around May 1969 on the vox silver alnicos, and around July 1969 on greenback speakers.
- Smooth paint = standard on most greenback models from 1964 to Sep 72
- Hammered paint = standard on most greenback models from Oct 72 onwards, but can be found on some earlier models such as T1134.
|75Hz stamps||55Hz stamps|
|'H1777' or '**/H1777'||mid 1962 to 1966||'SP444' or '**/SP444'||1966 to 1967|
|'003' or '**/003'||mid 1966||'014' or '**/014'||mid 1966|
|'**/102/003'||mid 1962 to 1967||'**/102/014'||1966 to 1967|
|'** 102 003'||mid 1962 to Apr 1971||'** 102 014'||1966 to mid 1971|
|'102/3' or '102 3'||Apr 1971 to Apr 1973||'102/14' or '102 14'||Apr 1971 to mid 1973|
|3||Apr 1973 to Apr 1974||14||1972 to Apr 1973|
|1777||Apr 1973 onwards||'102/30' or '102 30'||Apr 1971 to mid 1973|
|RIC***||Aug 1973 to Apr 1975||4||Apr 1973 to Apr 1974|
|98700||May 1974 to Jun 1974||5||Apr 1973 to Apr 1974|
|0444||Aug 1974 to Apr 1975|
|444||Late 1975 onwards|
|RIC***||Aug 1973 to Apr 1975|
|'**' = a variable two digit number said to represent the week of the year the cone was made||1105 or 5011||1976 to 1980|
|'***' = a variable three digit code with unknown meaning|
Here’s an interesting speaker. Late-1970 date code but with single-tab frame. https://reverb.com/item/34045082-celestion-t1234-1970#full
Hi Frank, thanks for posting this, and well spotted. That certainly is unusual, but looks legit. Maybe they were just using up old parts, but it’s also possibly a Celestion factory recone. Sometimes you see old vox blue speakers for example with a replacement 70’s date stamp on the frame after reconing. Also notice the inspection letter is an ‘R’ too, hmmmm. Not something to worry about though. It’s when you see the later ‘4 tab’ frame on a supposedly pre-1969 speaker that you need to sound the alarm bells!