BT Phonecards with Missing or 999 Control Number

Control or serial numbers were intended to appear on the reverse of all BT Phonecards. These numbers were added in the production process. Some BT Phonecards however lacked the numbers altogether, while other cards were produced to make up a batch using a special 999 control number.

One collector discusses his collection of 300+ BT Phonecards without a control number and 140+ BT Phonecards with either a 999A, 999B or 999C control number.

The article below first appeared in the September/October 1999 issue of Phonecard Collector.

To read more about BT Phonecards that were issued with a 999 prefix control number click here.


No Control? Call 999!

I thought I would share a few thoughts and facts with you about a section of my British Telecom (BT) 'optical' collection. I am one of a small group of collectors, who collects BT Phonecards by control number. So, while most collectors might have one 'Cornflakes' card (BTA045 - pictured below) in their collection, I have 30, encompassing all the different controls appearing on this card: i.e. 321A, 321B, etc. These 30 cards do no include the one I have with no control number and another with a '999' prefix control number.

BT Phonecard Production Process

I am not an authority on how Landis & Gyr used to produce their cards but, first of all, the card would have been produced according to the customers design, as agreed in the proof drawings. This card would have the green header and picture, but instead of the thermographic strip, there would be the silver-grey colour, as around the edges of the card. The next step would be to encode the card, so the 'Cornflakes' card would then posses its white line. Only after careful inspection would the required number of card beprinted, and the control numbers would be a simple way of checking that the correct number had been printed. Thus one could easily see that a maximum of 3,000,000 'Cornflakes' cards were issued (30 x 100,000). The handful or prototype cards wihtout a control number would not be included in the order and could be discarded. Frequently they were not, and by fair means (and often foul), these cards escaped from the factory to be snapped up at premium by collectors like myself.

Every BT Phonecard issued WITHOUT a control number

I maintain that every optical card issued by BT has existed without control. Although many have not survived, there are plenty which have, as I have in my collection: 44 BTA, 58 BTC, 21 BTD, 63 BTG, 37 BTI, 3 BTM, 9 BTO, 75 BTP, 6 Oil Rig and 3 Prison. 329 cards of different designs, and I know of others, which I have not bought, suspecting them to have been stolen.

BT Phonecards issued with a '999' prefix control number

Not included in my 30 'Cornflakes' controls, is the 999. If some of the cards in an order were faulty, obviously, they had to be replaced, and an emergency control, 999, was used. This was usually 999A, but 999B and 999C do appear on definitive and general issues. If no cards in an order were faulty, there would be no need for any replacement 999 cards, so not every issue would have existed with a 999 control. A card with a large issue would have a higher chance of there being somefaulty examples, which would be replaced with 999's. I have worked out that at least 8,000 'Cornflakes' cards were manufactured with a 999A control, and they were not impossible to find (used) in early 1993.

999A control numbers

This would be a high proportion of just over 40,000 999A cards, probably the greatest for any one issue. I say 40,000 because the highest 999A in my collection is 999A40034, the 'T Rex' card from the Toy Story set (BTA153). My lowest general issue card is 999A00033, a 'Gateway' card (BTA005 - pictured below), but there are lower numbers on Directors cards, my lowest being 999 A00 014 (split control) on a 'Sir David Scholey' (BTV001). I have 132 different 999A cards.

Pictured above: Gateway BT Phonecard features a low 999 control number: 999A00033.

999B control numbers

I do not know much about 999B and 999C control, but the first issue with 999B control was the '50 Millionth' card (BTP003 - pictured below). I know this because my card is 999B00000, and you can't get any lower than that! My highest 999B is 54286, a humble 20unit '5th Issue Definitive' (BTD024).

Pictured above: 50 Millionth BT Phonecard features the lowest 999B control numbe producedr: 999B00000.

999C control numbers

My lowest 999C is 00596, a 100unit 'Christmas 1990' (BTC031 - pictured below), my highest is 50699, a 100unit '5th Issue Definitive' (BTD026), but I do not think that there are 50,000 of these controls. They are much too scare for that. I only have 6 different 999B cards and 6 of 999C, and I have never seen very many.

Pictured above: Christmas 1990 BT Phonecard has the following 999 control number: 999C00596.


Optical Phonecard Control Numbers: Further Reading

For further information about Landis & Gyr optical telephone card control numbers you may find the following links useful:

What is a Phonecard control number?
Phonecards without a control number
Phonecards with a 'split' control number
Phonecards with a 'shifted' control number

Do you have a optical BT Phonecard with a 999 or without a control number? I'd be keen to hear from you, please contact me and tell me more about the card, or better still, send over a photo or scan of both sides of the telephone card.

Plus if you are a collector and would like to contribute content, images or information to this page, please also contact me.


The quoted numbers e.g. BTC031 within the above text relates to the cards unique designated catalogue number, over the years these numbers have become extremely well known by collectors.

The two latest catalogues (UK 1 BT Optical Cards is pictured right) which together feature all of BT Phonecards and catalogue numbers can be viewed and purchased here.

Last updated: 12th February 2018

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