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                                                               The Victor-Victrola Page 

About Victor-Victrola...


A Brief Background:  Welcome! My name is Paul Edie, and I am the owner/operator of the Victor-Victrola website.  This site is the product of a lifetime of research, collecting and sharing information with other collectors, and it is my sincere hope that all readers can successfully navigate through the hundreds of pages included herein, and enjoy the process of learning about these old phonographs.
My fascination for Victors and Victrolas started in the 1950's during our frequent visits to my grandparents' farm on Krafft Road north of Port Huron, Michigan. As a young child, I would occasionally go up into their attic and play with the Victrola X that had been stored there for decades. It had been a birthday gift for my grandmother in the spring of 1917, but was relegated to the attic shortly after radio became popular in the mid-1920's. My mom showed me how it worked, and I had to stand-up on a stool to see the record spinning. It seemed mysterious in a way that I didn't fully understand, but I loved hearing it play those old records. Within a few years both my grandparents had passed away, and we had to clear-out their house before the farm could be sold. The whole family joined-in for the moving project during a very cold December, 1961 weekend. Using U-Haul trailers and a few borrowed pickup trucks, my parents,  uncles, and cousins all pitched-in to remove my grandparents' belongings. The Victrola X phonograph was jammed lengthwise in the back seat of our '59 Ford and transported to our house (both myself and the brand-new Ford shown here in October '58, a few years before the Victrola arrived).
Dad lugged the Victrola into our basement along with loads of my grandparents' other possessions. My intense curiosity with the Victrola was obvious to my parents from the moment it arrived. Dad seemed puzzled as to why I became so engaged with the phonograph; after all, it was just an old clunky piece of furniture. I was only 8 years old at the time, but soon became "hooked", sitting under the basement stairs and listening to the small collection of old recordings. The words "Victor Talking Machine Company" under the lid seemed ancient and mysterious. My enthusiasm grew over time. At 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 mahogany, 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. My parents thought it was a rather silly thing to buy, using-up all my hard-earned money (I still have it in my collection). 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 and radios, which grew into a consuming hobby.  I also became interested in restoring the cabinets of these old machines, so as to return them to their original appearance when necessary. Since my father was a proficient woodworking hobbyist, he patiently taught me the various techniques of finish removal and restoration. 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 the repair of complex mechanisms. Travelling to local auctions, garage sales and digging through junk stores occupied much of my time as well. In later years, I learned a great deal about the operation of early radio and phonograph electronics through the support of many fantastic mentors. One of my most important teachers was Dr. Richard Neubauer who was then one of my professors at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Neubauer was truly a master of electron tube circuits and electromagnetic theory, and he never tired of teaching me the "how's and whys" of audio system electronics.
My personal phonograph collection started to grow, and I was able to perform some antique radio and phonograph restoration work to supplement my college student income.  Around this 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. After college, I went to work for an automotive supplier in Southeast Michigan, and soon found my niche in the field of acoustical engineering and instrumentation. I remained in that field for over 40 years.
In the fall of 1977, I read a newspaper article stating that an elderly lumber-baron has passed-away in northern Wisconsin, and that some deluxe Victrolas were being sold from his estate. So with no other information, I took time off from work and traveled over 600 miles to attend the 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 $165.00 (picture on left). It just caught my eye as being particularly elegant. However, I didn't sleep well for the next few nights, after spending more than a month's rent on another Victrola that may not have been worth $10.00, never mind $165.00! Fortunately, it turned-out to be a very good (and lucky) investment. During those years, nobody knew for certain 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 an important part of my permanent collection.
Having relocated to Southern California in 1981, my job responsibilities (usually working 40+ weeks per year away from home) required most of my time, so the Victrola research and collecting activities took a back-seat for a while. Eleven years later, after making a job change with far less travel required, I was again able to focus on the hobby with even more determination than before. I attended the Union Phonograph Show in Elgin Illinois for the first time in 1989, and met many other great collectors there. Research trips to museums and private collections were undertaken. Hours were spent combing through old catalogs and documents to learn more about the Victor product lines and company history. As my knowledge grew, it made sense to share this information with others.   The "Victor-Victrola.com" website was launched as an 'experiment' in November 1997 to provide online information for collectors, hobbyists, and phonograph owners. It then consisted of 3 pages of information. It has since grown to almost 500 pages, and has become a primary information repository for phonograph collectors and for researchers interested in Victor's products and the history of recorded sound.
After 41 years of employment in engineering, I opted to retire in September 2017.  My wife and I then moved to the southeast part of the country to enjoy some better weather and less big-city congestion.  I am still working as a consultant in the field of acoustics, except now under less-demanding conditions; therefore phonograph research and collecting has become an even more important part of my life. I am very fortunate to have a wife who tolerates my constant travels across the country to visit phonograph shows, museums and other collectors. Janet has spent many hours helping me move 200 lb. Victrolas up and down stairs, and in-and-out of buildings all over the USA. A more understanding and helpful partner could not be found anywhere.

Victor-Victrola Today:  Victor-Victrola has grown considerably in content and depth since it first came online, and the growth continues today. New pages are added weekly, and several contributors are involved in the  organization and database management for the website. It has been an immense amount of work, but it is a labor of love. I remain active in several antique phonograph organizations, particularly the Antique Phonograph Society, which is strongly recommended for any newcomers in the hobby. Their website is: https://www.antiquephono.org. Well worth the $30.00 annual dues to join this important and knowledgeable collecting group. 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 as 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 tireless and ground-breaking efforts in publishing Look For The Dog back in 1981 pioneered the
quest to provide reliable historical information for the hobby. His books remain the "benchmark" for phonograph enthuasists. We have since combined forces (along with inputs from many other terrific collectors) to document a far better summary of the history of Victor phonographs than anyone could have imagined when I started collecting in the 1960's. And there is still much to learn...
As far as "Antique Phonograph Social Media" goes, we tried it a few years ago by putting Victor-Victrola on Facebook, but 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 we will try again in the future, but it for now, it seems to be more effort than it is worth. Plus, there are already hundreds of people out there creating their own postings on Facebook and YouTube providing very good information (in some cases) and a lot of total nonsense (in many others) for anyone who wishes to spend the time reading or viewing it all. We keep abreast of the 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 condescending and overly-chatty at times. There are also a number of great phonograph shows and auctions across the country. I try to attend most of them. Details on shows can be found here.

Like many other antiques and collectibles, early phonographs have taken a significant "hit" in value in recent years. This is primarily due to the fact that younger people aren't very familiar with record players (especially old ones), nor are they particularly interested in accruing large collections of items.  So the supply of antique phonographs is exceeding the demand at the present time.  Prices for most machines are far lower today than they were 20 years ago. This is the reality of the collecting market. However, we view this situation as a typical phase of the ups-and-downs that are experienced with any commodity, and these fluctuations are not going to change our mission. During the past few years, we have noted a slowly growing interest from younger collectors, and hopefully this is a good sign of things to come!

Victor-Victrola donates 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 over 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 is currently undergoing a major upgrade to finally bring it into the 21st Century, which should be complete by June, 2021. 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, as we are certainly not expert website designers.

When all is said and done, Victor-Victr
ola is simply a public information resource for the products and history of the Victor Talking Machine Company. 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 the late '50's.

Have questions? We try to respond to as many questions as we can; however, please realize that this website now receives over 140 emails daily, and time simply does not permit us to answer every question, especially when answer 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 before you email us. And unfortunately, we don't have the time to become "internet pen-pals" via streams of ongoing correspondence. With mountains of inquiries and submissions to review, we have to focus on items of historical interest to the general collector community. Start off with our FAQ's page. Then see our list of "Annoying Repetitive Questions" for a tongue-in-cheek summary of 95% of the email requests we receive every single day. For obvious reasons, we don't respond to very many of them. And for some real fun, have a look at some of the hilarious questions we've been asked over the years.


With this much website traffic, problems are bound to occur. For example, a manufacturer of modern electric phonographs has listed us as a warranty repair service for their home audio products (some 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 of 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. And the never-ending attempts at fraud and hacking are a continuous challenge. So along with the valid questions from readers, we have to sift through a lot of noise.

 A Personal Note: Please be aware that I have a dry and occasionally 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 it is always a pleasure to meet new collectors.   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 within our capabilities to assist those who need support and guidance in the learning process.

Thanks for reading!

Please note that we do not currently perform repair or restoration services, nor do we carry a stock of parts for sale.

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

 

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