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Period Victrola Models: Chinese Chippendale


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Period Victrolas

Period Victrolas were semi-custom models featuring Victor's best designs, veneers and craftsmanship. These expensive, special-order phonographs were first introduced as upright-only styles in late 1917, and were continued through 1924. Production volumes were very limited, and manufacture was totally curtailed during World War I. These machines used names of period furniture designers or styles, typically dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, along with a designator number to indicate slight variations in design. For example, the Adam Period Victrolas (named after architect James Adam) were originally sold in 6 design variations, starting with "Adam No. 0" through "Adam No. 5". The serial number (serialization for each model variation began at 501) follows the model designation. Some variations were discontinued or changed during the production run. In 1920, Victor introduced "console" style Period Victrolas as an addition to the upright Period product line, with similar nomenclature. The console models are much larger overall, with a horizontal design theme, as opposed to the vertically designed upright machines. Console models are typically designed as a "Type 500" or "501" on the dataplate. As with the standard Victrola models, Period Victrolas were produced in both hand-wound and electric (VE) versions. Prices ranged from $300 to well over $750 depending on finish and model. It is estimated that no more than 50 of each design variation (e.g. Adam No. 5) were produced for each, and it is possible that not all variations which appeared in the catalogs were actually produced. These are amongst the rarest and most valuable Victrolas; however, the simpler examples will not typically command top prices, as they are often very similar in design to standard production models. These Victrolas did not sell well, and were highly discounted in the middle 1920's. Surviving documentation implies that most were actually sold when prices were reduced.


Chinese Chippendale. The Chinese Chippendale models took their design cues from Thomas Chippendale, a famous 18th century British designer.  Victor produced a series of Period Chinese Chippendale models for wealthy customers, with cabinets based on the basic Chippendale design, with the addition of lacquered Chinese ornaments.  Only one version is known to exist, in an upright style (left). No console (wide-body) style version of this design was produced. The original selling price was $800.00. Readers should be cautioned NOT to confuse this model with more common Victrolas (VV-130, VV-XVII) with similar oriental designs. While all Victrolas with an original (not aftermarket) Chinese designs are desirable collector items, the Chinese Chippendale Period Models are considered to be rarer and will command a higher price.







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