A Brief Background:
Welcome! My name is Paul, 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 curiosity about the Victrola was 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
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 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, 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. Eventually, 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 very good (and lucky) 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 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 was again able to focus
the hobby with even more determination than
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 my knowledge grew, 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.
It has since grown to become one of the primary information resources for
phonograph collectors and for researchers interested in the history of
In September 2017, after a career of over 41 years
working as an engineer in the field of acoustics and
instrumentation, I retired from my day-job, and moved from 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
and I am very fortunate to have a wife who tolerates my never-ending quest for
more phonograph information, and my constant 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,
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
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
I am active in
antique phonograph organizations, particularly the Antique
Phonograph Society, which I strongly recommend for any
newcomers interested in the hobby. Their website is:
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 friends 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
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
. 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. Details on
shows can be found here.
Like many other antiques and collectibles, early
phonographs have taken a significant "hit" in valuation in recent years.
This is primarily due to the fact that young people aren't very familiar
with "record players" (especially old ones), nor are they particularly
interested in accruing large collections of items, as was the case with
earlier generations. So the supply is exceeding demand at the present time.
Many of the machines that we offer for sale were purchased back in the late
1990's, when prices were at their peak, and we unfortunately take a
significant loss on many of them. This is the reality of today's market.
However, we view this situation as a typical phase of the "ups and downs"
that is experienced with any commodity, and it isn't 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
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 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
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.
When all is said and done, Victor-Victrola
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
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, a Chinese manufacturer
of cheapie electric phonographs has listed us as a warranty repair service
for their home audio products (some illegally 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. 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". 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
email@example.com Due to time contraints, we will not
respond if the requested information is currently available on this website.
Close this window to return to website