Antique Victrola Record Player: History, Types & Value Guide

Seeing the vintage Victrola record player, with its well-made exterior and hidden sound horn, you will be immediately transported back in time where such record players used to lighten up the living spaces.

Vintage Victrolas, which were invented in the early 20th century as a novel way to listen to recorded music at home, can still be found today.

Many collectors have spent years learning how to repair these original phonographs and enjoy their authentic experience.

Let’s take a look at the history of the Victrola Record Player, including how it was invented, why it was so important, and what you should think about if you want to get your hands on a vintage piece.

History of Victor Talking Machine Company

1. The invention of the First Phonograph

The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in the year 1877.

Inventions that were capable of recording sounds had been made by other people in the past. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until Edison’s innovation that a machine could repeat the sound output of a recording.

His phonograph, which he occasionally referred to as a “speaking machine,” consisted of a steel needle that would carve the sound vibrations from a spoken voice into a sheet of tin foil, also known as a wax cylinder, to record and playback the sound.

The sounds were recorded on that foil by wrapping it around a cylinder and then manually turning it.

Edison subsequently moved on to develop other innovations, one of which was the lightbulb that bears his name and is considered to be his most famous creation.

This device was a novelty that did not sell well. Despite this, the cogs were already turning in the wheel of time.

2. Rise of Companies Manufacturing Phonographs

The introduction of the groundbreaking phonograph heralded the beginning of a new century and an entirely new culture of entertainment. A few years after Edison had invented sound recording, others were working on perfecting it.

Other brilliant thinkers of the time tried to advance this technology; they produced flat discs (designed and manufactured by Emile Berliner in early 1892) to replace cylinders and changed the devices to be more compact and easily accessible at homes.

There was a whole slew of new companies springing up in the early 1900s to produce phonographs as a way to evade competition and patent infringement.

In the early days of the phonograph industry, there were hundreds of companies like Columbia, Regal, Sonora, and Silvertone popping up all over the place.

3. Rise of Victor Talking Machine Company

Victor Talking Machine Company (later known as “Victrola“) was only one of those early competitors. One of Berliner’s early business partners, machinist Eldridge Johnson, formed the Company in 1901.

The Company, in particular, became well-known for the production of the Victrola, a music player that relocated the sound horn from the top of the machine to within its cabinet in contrast to their early designs, which had horns outside the body.

The volume of the sound was controlled by the degree to which the cabinet’s doors were opened. This phonograph was designed to look more like a piece of furniture than a piece of technology.

The advent of modern radio ultimately led to the decline in popularity of these machines, which lasted for only around twenty years total.

However, the Victor Talking Machine Company was able to adjust and develop a partnership with Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which resulted in the formation of an industry behemoth in the music business that dominates the market even today.

To learn more about the Company and how Eldridge Johnson came up with the Victrola Record Player, check out the video:

Types of Antique Victrolas Record Player

The production of vintage victrola record players began in 1901 and continued until the late 1920s, as was previously noted. People have a tendency to get the Victor phonograph and the Victrola record players confused with one another.

The sound horns of Victrolas are housed inside the cabinets, whereas the sound horns of Victors are located outside of the cabinets. This is one of the prime characteristics of Victrolas.

The Company produced a number of Victrolas across the years. They are considered a vintage and antique collector item today due to their limited pieces.

Here are some of the most popular and different models that you might come across in your antique record player journey.

1. Regular Victrola

Because of the deep-set gramophone, the Pooley Flat top series of Victrolas is one of the top models among the most collectible antique record players today.

The primary reason is that the model was initially met with little demand, and as a result, fewer of them were manufactured. This means that there is only a handful of this model available.

Before the invention of electric record players, these were constructed with hand cranks for manual operations.

The Pooley Flat top series is considered to be one of the most valuable collections of Victrolas. The fact that these series had a low-profile design contributed to their initial lack of success and low demand when they were originally introduced to the public.

2. Victor Victrola XVI

2. Victor Victrola XVI
Victor Mahogany Antique Victrola Record Player Phonograph VV-XVI Source:harpgallery

After the Victrola was first released in 1906, the Company only produced one model, which was called the XVI. It was incredibly pricey, but as its popularity increased, they produced dozens of different models to meet the market demand.

These models ranged from inexpensive ones that sold for fifteen dollars to really high-end deluxe ones with gold trim that sold for hundreds of dollars.

The early pieces were made of mahogany, while in later years, the Company opted for oak wood.

When it was first released, it was sold for up to $200, which equates to $5700 in today’s money.

Collectors are drawn to the XVI model because it was the first Victrola model created by the Victor Talking Machine Company.

Additionally, there are not many pieces of the XVI model left in prime condition that the collectors prefer.

An XVI that is still in good shape is worth a significant amount of money. Collectors can search for these antique victrola record player in shops like eBay or intertique.

3. Victor Victrola VV-X

Original antique VICTOR VV-IX Tabletop Victrola Mahogany WOOD Finish
Original antique VICTOR VV-IX Tabletop Victrola Mahogany WOOD Finish (Sold $549.00)

The VV-X, sometimes known as “Victrola the Tenth,” was a very successful model that was modified significantly during the course of its production.

Introduced in 1910 as a tabletop model at a reasonable price, it quickly evolved into a floor model with open legs and, eventually, into a fully enclosed floor phonograph that continued to be a best seller for a number of years after its first release.

It was produced by Victor for a total of 10 years, during which it rose to the position of the Company’s fifth best-selling model of all time.

Even though VV-X phonographs are not considered to be “rare,” collectors are still interested in buying the earlier versions compared to the later designs.

The later variants of the VV-X are often overlooked by collectors unless they are in remarkable original condition. One such vintage piece is being sold for $1275 by harpgallery.

4. Victor Victrola XI

Antique Victor Talking Machine Victrola 1917 Mahogany VV-XI Phonograph
Antique Victor Talking Machine Victrola 1917 Mahogany VV-XI Phonograph (Sold $200)

The Victor VV-XI, sometimes known as “Victrola the Eleventh,” was the Company’s best-selling machine of all time.

When it was first released in the fall of 1910, the Victor VV-XI phonograph was regarded as a luxury tabletop.

The XI was introduced to the market during a transitional phase in which the price of so-called “talking machines” was falling and becoming more reasonable for the typical consumer.

It was initially released in 1910 as a premium tabletop model, but it quickly evolved into a fully enclosed floor phonograph and quickly became Victor’s most successful product during its 11 years of manufacture.

Despite the fact that VV-XI phonographs are extremely widespread, the designs of the earlier generations (the tabletop model) garner a greater level of attraction from collectors than the later variants.

You can check out antique shops and eBay for sellers that might be selling a vintage piece.

5. Victor Victrola XII

Victor Victrola VV-XII mahogany case phonograph
Victor Victrola VV-XII mahogany case phonograph (Sold $325)

In 1909, Victor released its first cheaper tabletop model called the “Victrola XII,” which was priced at $125 at the time of its release.

This model did not fare well in terms of sales due to a high price tag attached to it.

Since few of these pieces can be found today, this particular Victrola type has now become one of the most sought items by collectors. The price of this phonograph is by no means less, especially if the piece is in pristine condition.

You can find these antique victrola record players in online auctions and antique shops like LiveAuctioneers.

6. Victor Victrola VV-IV

Antique Victor Victrola VV-IV Talking Machine Record Player
Antique Victor Victrola VV-IV Talking Machine Record Player (Sold $235.00)

The VV-IV, often known as “Victrola the Fourth,” was Victor’s first reasonably priced “Victrola” tabletop model with an integrated horn. It was introduced in the spring of 1911.

It was produced by Victor for a total of 13 years, during which time it rose to the position of the Company’s third best-selling model.

Although this model is not regarded as being “rare,” it does receive a marginally greater amount of collector’s attention than the subsequent designs. You can find these antique victrola record players in antique shops or online stores like eBay.

7. Victor Victrola VV-2-55

Victor Victrola VV-2-55
Victor Victrola VV-2-55 (Sold $99.95)

The Victor Victrola VV 2-55 was an extremely well-liked portable “suitcase” phonograph that was released in the spring of 1928. It succeeded the VV 2-60, which had been withdrawn by the Company.

This machine, which delivered extraordinarily high sound quality for such a little device, was Victor’s sixth most successful product in the Company’s history.

The earlier pieces were sold for around $35 when they came into the market. The price for these vintage record players in current times, however, varies.

To learn more about the Victor Talking Machines and antique victrola record players, you can check out an illustrated guide that is focused on Victor Talking Machine Company and the different productions they had over the years.

Antique Victrola Record Player Value

Even though they may be over a century old, the vast majority of victrolas do not have a “highly valuable” status. The Company produced many millions of them over a period of more than 25 years, and there are still hundreds of thousands in existence today.

There are certain models that are rare and precious, but there aren’t many of them, and they’re also hard to come by.

The majority of vintage Victrola record players can sell for anywhere between $500 and $5,000.

There are a few major steps involved in assigning a value to your antique Victrola record player.

Some of the things that add value to the record player include the material that it is constructed of, the “Victrola” stamp that it bears, as well as its general design.

In general, the age of your Victrola, as well as its rarity, will determine the price that you have to pay to get this antique gem.

If you want to buy a Victrola, you should make sure that you are purchasing it from a genuine phonograph specialist. Alternatively, you might have a specialist examine the item to ensure that it is authentic before you buy it.

Identifying Vintage Victrola Record Player

The value of a vintage Victrola Record Player lies in its authenticity and its design. However, for a collector, there are some factors that need to be checked to identify if the Victrola is a vintage one or not.

Here are some easy tips that you can look for in your antique victrola record player for authentication:

1. Maker’s Mark

These photographs were available in both large and small forms; nevertheless, the majority of them had a maker’s mark somewhere inside the cabinetry of the floor model or around the edge of the base.

The Company’s initial phonographs were numbered “1,” “2,” and “3” to show that they were made in 1901, 1902, and 1903. In 1909, the numerals were reset. Replicas with identical serial numbers have been made by deceitful manufacturers.

As a result of this, it is recommended that you verify the trademark that the Victor Talking Machine Company uses, which depicts a dog listening to a phonograph.

It is essential to take into consideration the possibility that certain metal tags will feature the emblem of the respective merchant or dealer.

For instance, the names Lyon, Hudson’s, and Wurlitzer appear on the labels of several vintage Victrolas record players. These symbols do not indicate that the Company in question is the product’s manufacturer. It’s just a way to authenticate the player.

2. Check For The Serial And Model Numbers

Vintage Victrola Record Player Mark

Vintage Victrola Record Player Mark 2

Thinking ahead, Victor Talking Machine Company assigned each of their product a unique serial number. Hence, it’s not only easy to identify them, but it’s also easy to determine their year of manufacture.

Each and every phonograph that is produced by the Victor Company features an individual metal data plate. These data plates can be found underneath the turntable, on the side of the external horns, or next to or on the motor board.

A model identification number and a serial number are always stamped on the bottom left and right of the data plate, respectively. These numbers are always located in the same spot.

There is a unique number assigned to each model and design. It is possible that the “antique” you have found is actually a replica if it does not have a data plate and there is no indication that the plate has been removed.

After you have found the serial number, check to see whether the designations match those on a Victrola information page. You can access one of these pages here.

3. Confirm The Materials Used in Antique Phonographs

3. Confirm The Materials Used in Antique Phonographs
Source:flickr

Victrola record players were constructed out of natural woods such as mahogany and oak with a variety of finishes. Because of this, the record player’s age and place of origin can be determined by testing the finish and wood.

To learn further about how to identify different ways of checking an antique Victrola record player for authenticity, check out an identification guide here.

Determining Market Value of Victrola

Rarity, authenticity, condition, and completeness are the four primary components that determine the market value of an ancient Victrola phonograph.

The value of the phonograph is directly proportional to the sum of these four components.

You can begin the process of determining the market price or value of the Victrola record player once you have determined for certain that it is an authentic example.

Comparison is the most effective way of determining the exact worth of an antique artifact on the market. You can compare prices by attending online auctions, shopping on eBay, attending estate sales, shopping at thrift markets, and so on.

The comparison of these results will provide a good foundation on which to build an estimate of the value of your antique.

The majority of the time, evaluated prices come in significantly lower than what collectors have anticipated.

The Rarity of Vintage Victrola Record Players

You need to know the answers to these questions in order to evaluate the collectability of a Victrola record player.

  • How many different versions of this model have been produced up until this point?
  • How many are there that are still there in the present day?
  • How many different collectors have an interest in it?

When determining the worth of a recording machine, rarity is an important factor to take into consideration. Take into account the fact that the rarity factor does not fully account for the value.

For instance, have a look at the Victrola VV-107 which is one of the most exclusive models ever developed, with a total production of approximately 1,007 units. Collectors do not, however, place the same value on it as they would other rare models.

This is most likely because of the unappealing and plain features that it possesses. Because of this factor, the price of this model is quite low in the present market.

Several Important Factors to Take Into Account

Some models of the Victrola have distinctive qualities or attributes that set them apart from others in terms of their aesthetic appeal or practical utility.

For instance, it might have a lovely wooden pattern, and the original receipts and other paperwork for the purchase might still be around.

On the list of collectible record players, Victrolas are at the very top of the hierarchy due to the fact that they are both rare and also have unique finishes.

Where To Buy And Sell Antique Victrola Record Players

Due to the recent surge in demand for vintage Victrola record players, numerous collectors, thrift stores, and shops that specialize in antique treasures have begun stocking a variety of models of this particular phonograph.

You may also buy these machines via the internet in addition to traditional businesses with brick-and-mortar locations. Some of the online markets worth looking at include eBay, Etsy, Amazon, 1stDibs, Ruby Lane, and Craigslist.

You are also welcome to consult this auction event list right here.

When you are getting ready to make the initial move toward selling or purchasing your first or nth victrola phonograph, you need to keep in mind that the market for these machines does not move as quickly as the market for other antiques.

At the moment, there is a moderately low level of demand for these machines; hence, we will advise you to practice patience in order to locate the most advantageous price for your equipment.

On the other hand, if you own a Victrola that is both extremely rare and highly sought after, you might get lucky and make a lot of money in a short amount of time.

Beloved by Generations of Music lovers

Victor Victrola was produced in large quantities during its manufacturing years. Despite being mass-produced record players, these phonographs still have a place of yearning in collectors’ hearts.

With our guide on the record player’s history, its various types, the value of a vintage piece, and how to identify them, you must have gained sufficient knowledge on your journey of acquiring or selling your vintage Victrola record player.

You can get in touch with us via comments or email if you still have questions. Your input is always appreciated.

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