Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Victor Talking Machine Company Mistake

In the early 20th century, the phonograph was just coming into favor with the public and they were widely available in a price range of $25 to $200.

Victor thought that there was a market for an upscale version, so in 1915 the Victrola VV-XVIII was introduced at the selling price of $300.   The cabinet was slightly taller than the other Victor upright models, had curved sides and front, hand carved corners, fancy veneer and gold plated hardware.

Beside the front doors that opened into the lower storage area, it had rear doors (leading basically to no place).   Techinically it was a good Victrola, but it was not a commercial success.   Sales were slow and costs were high.   By the end of 1916, production was discontinued after about 3400 of the spring motor version were produced and the remaining inventory was discounted to $250.  

Our Victor VV-XVIII is not original, but was assembled from original parts.   The case was found at an antique shop in Ogunquit, Maine, where it had been stripped of its playing parts and turned into a dry bar.   The paper decal was dated J1, 1915.   The serial number plate was missing.

We bought it hoping to return it to original construction, but with no real plan to accomplish that job.   After some online hunting, we found a complete set of phonograph hardware in Plano, IL.   They came from a trashed cabinet but the serial number plate was missing.    The only remaining job was reconstructing the shelves in the storage area.   With the curve sides, it seems that the storage shelves were constructed and the case built around them.   We were thus forced to make the shelves in sections and assemble them inside the cabinet.   So we now have a mostly original somewhat restored Victor VV-XVIII with basically unknown provenance.

With thanks to Ron Haring the Victrola Man and

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