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Credenza / Credenza X / VV 8-1 / VV 8-30 / VE 8-30

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The Credenza (also referred to as the VV 8-1, and later as the VV 8-30) was the first of four premiere Orthophonic models that were introduced in the late fall of 1925, and represented the pinnacle of audio reproduction in the mid-1920's. These revolutionary machines provided far better sound-quality than any of the earlier Victrola models, with superior frequency response, higher volume, and a far less "canned" sound quality than was experienced with the previous generation of acoustic phonographs. For a description of the Orthophonic design concepts, please refer to the page Basics of the Acoustic Phonograph.
Some Background:  Since Christmas of 1923, Victrola sales had been on a severe decline, but the management team at Camden continued to manufacture and stockpile hundreds of thousands of "old-style" Victrolas until the factory and distributor storage spaces were bursting at the seams with unsold machines. Dealers faced the same situation, as Victrolas simply were not selling due to the advent of low-cost home radio sets. This crisis forced all operations to hold a half-price sale during the summer of 1925 to clean-out the massive inventory of phonographs. While the sale was a huge success for the buying public, the factory, distributors and dealers were forced to sell the machines in their inventory at a price below their original cost, resulting in large financial losses for all stakeholders. Fortunately, most Victor dealers were also selling radios at that time, which helped to offset some of their losses, but the factory had to write-off hundreds of thousands of dollars of depreciated inventory. Even worse, the public perception of the Victrola brand, which had been so profitable and popular just a few years earlier, was becoming tarnished. The massive financial problems that the company was facing (including thousands of employee layoffs) was well-known to everyone in the business and banking world. In order to survive, Victor undertook a "panic" product-development effort, and thanks to some licensing agreements with Western Electric, quickly designed and produced the Credenza phonograph. The Credenza was the "flagship" of the new line of Orthophonic models which the company was banking-on in order to survive. Due to its large folded exponential horn and advanced soundbox technology, the Credenza was capable of incredible sound quality. Once it was made available for public viewing and listening, it became the center of attention at every Victor dealership. In September 1925, a limited number of pre-production Credenza machines (then labeled with an "8-1" designation) were toured around the country and demonstrated to Victor's network of dealers to reinvigorate interest and confidence in the Victrola product lines. Dealer feedback was very positive, and the Camden plant shifted into full-gear to produce plenty of Credenzas in time for the official Orthophonic launch-date of November 2. While not all four Orthophonic models in the product lineup were ready in-time for the November premiere, the flagship Credenza and entry-level Consolette were both in plentiful supply for the buying public.
About the Credenza: The Credenza was certainly an impressive instrument. It featured the largest folded, exponential horn that Victor produced at that time, along with their best (and recently improved) 4-spring motor. Gold-plated hardware, a newly designed Orthophonic soundbox, an air-damped lid closing system, and a fully-automatic turntable shut-off were a few of the main features.  A large and elegant cabinet gave this model a high-quality appearance. Gold-plated hardware was used.
The "prototype" Credenzas which were produced for the September dealer tour were tagged as VV 8-1 and used a semi-opaque blended red-brown varnish finish (top right). Cabinet relief carvings and some other very minor details were slightly different from the later production versions.  Based on surviving examples, it is estimated that about 50 of these demonstration machines were built. 
The product that was officially launched for public sale in November was produced with a lightly-stained and blended satin lacquer finish (top left). Buyers had an option of mahogany or walnut veneers. The 8-1 model name on the dataplate was replaced with Credenza. This substantial phonograph retailed for $275.00, which equates to about $4,100.00 in today's money. The impact on buyers in the dealer showrooms was sensational, to say the least. Even at this high price-point, machines were being sold faster than the plant could produce them. The Credenza, along with some other advanced models introduced that fall, literally saved Victor from financial collapse; the company knew it had a huge success on its hands.

Listen to a comparison of the Credenza vs. a small Orthophonic model such as the Consolette or Colony. Click on the links below. No wonder it was such a success!  Microphones were placed 6 feet in front of the horns, playing the same record and using the same soundbox in the same room. No gain or equalization adjustments have been made.

      CREDENZA                            CONSOLETTE

The larger folded horn of the Credenza provides vastly superior bass response, as well as a greater overall volume.  This would have been what buyers would have experienced in the Victor showrooms in 1925, when comparing different Orthophonic models.

One of the early complaints about the Credenza was the awkwardness of the very large doors. They had to be fully open to listen to records (or to retrieve them from the storage areas along the sides) and this required a great deal of "swing-space" around both the front and sides of the machine (above left). This problem was solved in early 1926 by producing a design that had separate doors for the record storage areas and the horn opening (right). At the same time, the retail price was increased to $300.00. In mid-1926, the turntable location was moved from the center of the motorboard to the far right, and shortly thereafter a padded "record rest" appeared on the left. This was used to hold the next record to be played. Moving the turntable and motor to the right had the benefit of shortening the length of the crank handle, making it far easier to install into the motor's female threaded opening. Changes were also made to the cabinet's relief carvings and trim. At some point during this period, Victor made a money-saving move, and started using pot metal in their Orthophonic soundboxes, replacing the all-brass housings used previously. Unfortunately, pot metal tends to swell and distort over time, and may of these soundboxes have developed cracks and can become unusable today.
Victor began using only numeric designations for their machines (rather than names) in the spring and summer of 1926, and the updated Credenza became the VV 8-30. The design remained essentially the same through the end of 1927, when the 8-30 was quietly discontinued. During the final months of the production run, approximately 5,000 Victrola 8-30 "E" machines were also produced for export outside the USA. These machines are identical to the US versions, but have a different licensing tag. No records exist to accurately date "E" machines, but most were manufactured in the late 1927-early 1928 timeframe. A total of 63,000 spring-wound Credenza and VV 8-30 models were produced, not including machines built for export or other special purposes.
For an extra $50.00, the buyer could opt for a "hand-tooled leather" decoration on the front of the cabinet (left). Based on the number of surviving examples, this was not a popular choice when new, but these examples are very popular with collectors today.
Some very late Credenzas have reportedly been documented with an "RCA-Victor" license sticker, indicating that some remained in factory inventory until after RCA purchased Victor in 1929. Invoices show that dealers were still selling these models well into in the early 1930's, but this was certainly left-over old stock. Some late-production examples used a combination of walnut and mahogany veneer, with the walnut typically used under the lid. This was probably done to use-up the stock of veneer in the factory, as the grain patterns do not match well. This was a common practice at Victor; when certain models were becoming obsolete, all the inventory of remaining cabinets and parts were essentially fitted together ad-hoc to get them shipped out the door.
The Credenza was also available with an electric motor option (Credenza X or VE 8-30 X) for $35.00 extra, and a total of 28,300 of these machines were produced (note that a large series of serial numbers were skipped in production). In addition a Credenza U model was produced in very low volumes; this version would run on either AC or DC current.
A limited number of  VV 8-30-S models were also produced. These phonographs are basically the same as a standard 8-30, but with provisions to mount a radio in the cabinet. Based on surviving examples, approximately 500 of these machines were shipped from the factory. However, this model does not appear in any contemporary catalogs nor in the factory production records.
Some Credenzas sold in Canada have a "C" prefix; however it is not certain if these machines were assembled in Montreal, or if they were built at Victor's main plant in Camden NJ for export into Canada.
Credenza / 8-30 models are often prized by both collectors and audiophiles today, even in the very weak current market. When the soundboxes are correctly rebuilt, and the horn has been checked for leaks (and sealed if necessary), these machines can produce a splendid sound that rivals, and often exceeds, the audio quality of premium AM radios today.





The current survival database shows the earliest existent 8-1 /Credenza / 8-30 to be S/N 531 and the latest to be S/N 63201

The earliest existent electric Credenza X (8-30 X) is S/N 585 and the latest is 31797

Manufacture Date Serial Number Range Feature Notes
1925 501-10500 Earliest models all use 2 door design
1926 10551-55000  All models use 4-door design after S/N 15000. Record support added at S/N 33800. 8-30 name change implemented around S/N 45000
1927 55001-63500  
Credenza X or 8-30 X (Electric)    
1925 501-2500 Most early models use 2 door design
1926 2501-22800 Serial numbers 12,520 through 16,000 were skipped (not used) in production. 8-30 name implemented at S/N 16000
1927 22801-31800  

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