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About Victor-Victrola...


A Brief Background:  Welcome! My name is Paul Edie, and I am the owner/operator of the Victor-Victrola website.  My fascination for Victors and Victrolas started in 1961, when my 82 year-old grandfather passed away, and we brought his Victrola X phonograph to our house, jammed in the back seat of our '59 Ford (both myself and the brand-new Ford shown below in October '58, a few years before the Victrola arrived). The Victrola had been stashed up in my grandparents' farmhouse attic for years, and my dad had virtually no interest in it. However, everything needed to be cleared-out, so the whole family joined-in for the moving project during a very cold April weekend.
My dad lugged the Victrola into our basement along with boxes of my grandparents' other possessions, and stuck everything under the stairs. But my intense curiosity regarding the Victrola was soon satisfied when dad showed me how it worked and played a few scratchy discs. He seemed puzzled as to why I became so engaged with the phonograph; after all, it was just an old piece of furniture. I was only 8 years old at the time, but soon became hooked, sitting under those stairs and listening to the small collection of old recordings. The words "Victor Talking Machine Company" under the lid seemed both ancient and mysterious to me. My enthusiasm grew over time. When I was about 13 years of age, I made my first Victrola purchase (paid for by selling home-grown pumpkins for Halloween), a nice VV-IX in oak, stuck in the corner of an antique shop in Rochester, Michigan. The price tag was $20.00, which was a small fortune to me. I convinced the owner to let me have it for $18.00 with a promise to take good care of it, but my parents thought it was a rather silly thing to buy, using-up all my hard-earned money. But that didn't phase me from maintaining a serious interest in early audio technology.  While in high school, I started buying and restoring old phonographs, which grew into a consuming hobby. Since my father was a proficient woodworking craftsman, I worked with him to gradually learn the techniques of "detail work" that is necessary to achieve a quality result. In the early 1970's, while attending college near Albany, New York, I worked part-time for well-known antique clock restorer/dealer Dr. Martin Slowe, mastering the art of antique refurbishment and application of finish materials. Travelling to local auctions, garage sales and digging through junk stores occupied much of my time as well.  Around that time, I began logging Victrola model and serial numbers into a "little black book", to help me better understand the Victor product line, and to figure-out the year-of-manufacture for various models. In the fall of 1977, I read a newspaper article stating that an elderly lumber-baron has passed-away in upstate Michigan, and that some deluxe Victrolas were being sold from his mansion. So with no other information, I took time off from work and traveled over 500 miles to attend the estate auction. It was there, on a hunch, that I bought my first rare Victrola, a very nice "Period" William and Mary upright model, for a mind-boggling $175.00 (picture on left). However, I didn't sleep well for the next few nights, after spending more than a month's rent on another Victrola that I wasn't certain was worth $10.00, never mind $175.00. Fortunately, it turned-out to be a lucky and very good investment. During those years, nobody really knew which models were rare, and what kind of prices they should bring, as there was no published information available. All we had was word-of-mouth advice from other collectors, which was usually nothing more than an educated guess. The extremely rare William and Mary is still around, and is an important part of my permanent collection.
During the 1980's and early 1990's, my job responsibilities (usually working 40+ weeks per year away from home), and the priorities of a growing family required most of my time, so the Victrola research activities took a "back seat" for a while. But by the mid-90's, with far less travel required for work, I again was able to focus on the hobby with even more determination than before. Many hours were spent combing through old catalogs and doing historical research with other phonograph collectors to learn more about the Victor product lines and company history. As I learned more about these machines, it made sense to share this information with others.  I launched my website, "Victor-Victrola.com" in November 1998 as a free public resource to provide accurate online information to collectors, hobbyists, and phonograph owners.
In September 2017, after a career of 41 years working as an engineer in the field of acoustics and instrumentation, I retired from my day-job, and moved from Southeast Michigan to Greenville, South Carolina to enjoy some better weather and less big-city congestion.  I am still very active in the field of acoustical engineering and environmental noise-control, consulting for several major corporations, and that effort remains my primary focus. However, phonograph research and collecting is still a very serious part of my life, and I am very fortunate to have a wife who tolerates my never-ending quest for more phonograph information, and my regular travels across the country to visit phonograph shows, museums and other collectors.

My website and research efforts functioned for many years as a "negative cash flow" project, simply to provide public data on Victor products, and to expand awareness of the phonograph collecting hobby.  As the demand for more information grew, the scope of the effort expanded, and the costs of updating the website, maintaining the huge database, and other research, restoration and presentation activities became prohibitive. Victor-Victrola was eventually restructured to operate as a well-organized break-even avocation, which now pays for itself via limited sales and services offerings. See our "Sales and Operational Philosophy" (at the bottom of the
"Sales" page) for more information regarding our current approach toward the services/sales of machines.
Please note that we do not have a retail storefront operation, nor do we have a browsing-room for folks to view our machines. There is simply not enough demand for antique phonographs to make such an enterprise worthwhile. Likewise, we do not sell machines at swap-meets, flea markets or other public venues.  We do not have a sales staff, nor do we turn-over a lot of machines each year. If Victor-Victrola were my source of income, I would be starving to death. That isn't our purpose. Our premium online sales and appraisal services provide us with adequate revenue to keep the endeavor alive.  Since we are not a profit-stream operation, we can focus on taking our time and doing it right when it comes to the sale or restoration of Victors and Victrolas, without trying to meet revenue-targets or deal with high overhead costs. Each machine we deliver is absolutely authentic, working well, and an exceptional piece of history. We have sold Victors and Victrolas to venues such as Disneyworld, Cedar Point Amusement Park etc., and have restored machines for celebrities (including a well-known rock-star), and for use in TV shows, including Boardwalk Empire.

I am active in several antique phonograph organizations, particularly the Antique Phonograph Society, which I strongly recommend for any newcomers interested in the hobby. Their website is: https://www.antiquephono.org. The best and most comprehensive published informational resources are Robert Baumbach's outstanding books, The Victor Data Book and Look For The Dog, which are available here. Bob and I have been very close friend
s for many years, and we frequently work together to unearth more and more details on these old machines. Unfortunately, we did not know each other back in the 1970's, and we were pursuing almost parallel-paths in trying to figure-out which models were rare, and how many of each variation were produced. Bob's amazing and tireless efforts in publishing Look For The Dog back in 1981
"broke the ice" in providing reliable information for the hobby, and we have since combined forces (along with inputs from many other terrific collectors) to get a far better picture of the history of Victor phonographs than anyone could have imagined when I started collecting.
As far as "antique phonograph social media" goes, I tried it a few years ago by putting Victor-Victrola on Facebook, and it was too much work to maintain. With waves of bizarre questions ("how do I convert my Victrola to play MP3 music?") and annoying random postings about totally unrelated topics, it was a never-ending battle to keep ahead of the game. Maybe I will try again in the future, but it for now, it seems to be more effort than it is worth. We also keep abreast of posts on the antique phonograph message board/forum, which can be found at: http://forum.talkingmachine.info/viewforum.php?f=2&sid=8fc104f2387ee98c246abd1bfaa78019 . A lot of good information can be found there on both Victor and non-Victor phonographs, but (as is true on all public forums) an occasional poster may not be accurate in their comments, and the postings can become somewhat rambling and "chatty" at times. There are also a number of great phonograph shows and public auctions across the country. I try to attend most of them (left). Details on shows can be found here.
Victor-Victrola donates a several machines each year for charity auction events, provides "history of recorded sound" presentations to schools and colleges, and keeps this free public-access website going as a service to the collector community. We also assist museums and libraries via donated items and providing needed information. If you are interested in the details of these activities, please contact me at the email on the bottom of this page. Our phonograph survival database (as was started with my "little black book" back in the 1970's) now contains serial numbers and information on almost 200,000 surviving Victor and Victrolas, and it is our intent to make this vast information accessible to the public in the future via online queries. In addition, this site will be undergoing a major upgrade to bring it into the 21st Century. Our goal is to make it easier to use, and with even more relevant historical information. This will be a major effort in the coming months and years. That is, providing I don't get worn to a frazzle in the process!

When all is said and done, Victor-Victr
ola is an informational and public awareness resource, which supports itself via the sale, restoration and appraisals of these marvelous machines. My passion for the hobby, as well as my intent to inspire and support new collectors, remains as strong as ever. I still feel that same intrigue and captivation as when I first played my grandparents' Victrola X back in 1961.

Have questions? We try to respond to as many questions as we can; however, please realize that this website receives over 130 emails daily, and time simply does not permit us to answer every question, especially when most of the needed information is already provided within these pages. So if your email inquiry is not answered, it is probably because the information you are requesting is already here, or because you are asking about a topic unrelated to pre-1929 Victor and Victrola machines. So please take the time to do some digging through our webpages (which are intended to be easy to use) before you email us. And unfortunately, we just don't have the time to become "internet pen-pals" via streams of ongoing correspondence. With mountains of inquiries and submissions to review daily, we have to focus on broad issues of general interest to the collector community.


Of course, with this much website traffic and interest, problems are bound to occur. For example, Kohl's Department Store has somehow listed us as a warranty repair service for their cheapie home audio products (some inappropriately called "Victrolas"), a Canadian newspaper linked us as a resource for surveillance eavesdropping equipment, and several antique furniture websites refer their readers to contact us for restorations on bedroom sets and sofas. Once incorrect information is posted online it becomes a permanent public reference, and no human effort can ever undo the damage, even if the errors are eventually corrected. So along with the valid questions from readers, we have to sift through a lot of "noise". It goes with the territory, but bear with us if we don't always seem timely in our response to emails.

And please be aware that I can have a rather dry (and sometimes sarcastic) sense of humor, which may be apparent when you read though the pages on this website. I can assure you that am not a grouch (as has been claimed on some blogs), and I truly enjoy bringing new collectors into this hobby.  To be honest, I don't have a high tolerance for those who demand answers to really idiotic questions (e.g. "how can I fix my RCA Wide Screen TV"), or to be a personal tour guide for those who don't make any effort to dig into this website before bombarding us with questions. Nor can we respond to each inquiry with 10-page flowery answers. But I can assure you that any sarcasm you may encounter is intended to lighten-up the reading, and not intended as an insult to anyone. We love bringing new collectors into this hobby, and will make every effort to assist those who need some support and guidance in the learning process.

Thanks for reading!

Please note that, due to our recent relocation, we have not yet set-up operations for restoration work. Please stay tuned for updates.

We can be reached by email at inquiries@victor-victrola.com  Due to time contraints, we will not respond if the requested information is currently available on this website.

 

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