Early Victor MS Serial Number 6501 with Large Brass Horn
Build Date: 1904
Originality: 1 Untouched original except for turntable felt
Overall Condition: 3 Exceptional for an all-original machine. Some minor crazing of finish and very minor blemishes on horn
(See the Ratings/Condition page for our grading scales)
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The Victor MS was introduced in late 1902 as a premium high-end phonograph in the early product lineup. It featured a 10-inch turntable, nickel-plated hardware, and an exceptional 2-spring motor. Unlike the lower-priced models, the Victor MS had a well designed, ornate oak cabinet with finely carved rounded column corners. A "Concert" soundbox was provided as standard equipment. In 1903, the MS was the first phonograph to adopt the "rigid arm" design, which was Victor's first attempt at a rear-mount tonearm (details on tonearm designs can be found here). The rigid arm was a good idea, but was awkward to use, and in 1904, the "tapered arm" design became the standard configuration for all Victor models. Victor re-named the "MS" as the "Victor IV", in late 1904 or early 1905, but it is likely that unsold "MS" models at the plant were upgraded with the tapered arm, and shipped with the "MS" designation. The Victor plant suffered a huge fire in 1904, which really complicated the production, serialization and delivery of machines, so accurate factory documentation from this time period is almost non-existent. Serial numbers were likely skipped by the thousands as many machines were burned awaiting shipment. Based on the design features and configuration, this machine was likely shipped from the plant in 1904, and therefore was one of the early production models with the tapered arm. The MS was available with either the Concert or Exhibition soundbox per the buyer's choice. This one came with the rare Concert soundbox, as well as the optional large brass horn. With this optional horn, the machine sold at a substantial base price of $48.00 (which equates to over $1,300.00 in today's money), and obviously it was intended to be marketed to upper-middle class households. This was a very pricey luxury at a time when the average wage was 22 cents per hour! It is uncertain how many machines with the early MS designation were produced, but based on surviving examples, it is probable that far fewer than 10,000 were shipped, making this a relatively rare and very early find. Not many have survived, and certainly not in this condition!
This machine was found "as is" from a 1895 home in Augusta GA, and the horn and phonograph were almost certainly paired when new. All we did was clean them up, perform a complete mechanical rebuild, and install new felt on the turntable. The finish on the phonograph cabinet is 100% original, with an outstanding patina and only moderate crazing. It has the original early plate, record hold-down clamp, and beautiful "rope" carvings around the cabinet. Carvings and details are perfect. The horn is also all-original, with the correct Victor decal. and shows only slight indications of minor bumps and dings. Exceptionally nice for a thin metal horn of this size.
This is a rare and very special set, in great original condition, for the discriminating buyer who wants a very early phonograph with incredible design features. Due to rarity and originality, it is not cheap, but try to find another all-original Victor early MS at this price, ready to go, and with a full warranty!