VE-XVIII Serial Number 859 Red Mahogany
Build Date: May 1915
Originality: 1 Complete, untouched original
Overall Condition: 3- Shows light to moderate crazing on original finish, minor wear
(See the Ratings/Condition page for our grading scales)
The Victrola VV-XVIII was Victor's very best non-custom model when it was introduced in the summer of 1915. Selling for a whopping $300.00 new, it featured the highest quality craftsmanship and hardware that was available at the time. With their best 3-spring motor, exquisite hand carvings, "swell" (Bombe') front and side panels, gold plated hardware and V-patterned diagonal veneer, it was intended for very wealthy customers. After about one year on the market, the XVIII was quietly discontinued and replaced with the less-expensive (and less ornate) VV-XVII. The XVIII's $300 price tag was just too high for the buying public in 1915, and it cost Victor too much to manufacture on a sustained basis. Only 3,408 spring-wound versions were produced, along with only 993 electric powered versions. That may sound like a lot, but given that over 800,000 "XI" models were made, and quite a few other models had production runs well over the 500,000 mark, it gives an idea of how limited the selling market was for a high-end machine like this. It was far beyond the reach of the average buyer. Due to the ornate cabinet, gold trim and premium components, it is understandable why these machines remain in very high demand. They are not only rare...they represent the pinnacle of Victrola design and performance.
This example is a "VE", or electrically-powered version, so it uses an early electric motor instead of the standard spring-wound version. Not too many homes had electric power in 1915, so whoever originally bought this machine was a person of significant means. Electric operation was a pricey $50.00 option when new, bringing the total selling price for this machine to $350.00, which equates to over $8,700.00 in today's money! It was originally purchased out of Tennessee, and is in absolutely untouched original condition. All the hand-carvings are perfect, as is the veneer. The original varnish finish does show some of the usual crazing and liight surface wear in a few places from over 100 years of storage, but it far better than most of the original XVIII's that we come across. it would be a crime to refinish it or risk damaging the original depth of color via a solvent-based refurbishment. It has a deep red luster, and shows the diagonal wood grain clearly. When it came into our shop, we deep-cleaned and polished the cabinet, rebuilt the motor and soundbox, and replaced a few hardware items that were not correct on the machine. It performs flawlessly, and will be an absolutely spectacular show-piece in any home without any apologies. Includes the original lid and storage area key. It has an incredibly impressive appearance when seen in-person. Given the very low production volume, high collector interest and terrific condition, it is priced very reasonably for today's market. You can find more on the VV-XVIII by clicking here.
This would be well-suited in a large room, and would fit-in with a variety of decors. As with all our phonographs, the motor, soundbox and all mechanical components have been torn down, cleaned and correctly rebuilt (by us). It comes with our 2 year performance warranty.