78 RPM RECORDS
Victor Phonographs will play any laterally-cut 78 RPM record. This would include most flat records, with the exception of the early Edison and Pathe discs, which used a vertical cutting method. Don't play thick Edison discs on your Victor, as these are vertically cut, and the Victrola's needle will ruin them. Victor, Columbia, Regal, Paramount, Banner, Aeolian, and a host of other brands will all play correctly. Some brands (not Victor) offered tonearms that would play either the lateral or vertical discs by rotating the soundbox assembly.
Most appropriate early records used on Victors and Victrolas have no lead out groove (the eccentric circle at the end of the record close to the label). That is a good indicator that the record is pre-1925, and will play well on an early phonograph. For the post-1925 Electrola and Orthophonic models, the eccentric lead-out groove will be used to shut-off the machine at the end of the record.
The reader is warned that playing 78's made after 1935 on a Victrola will cause the record to wear very quickly, as these records were designed for the lighter tonearms that were used on later electric phonographs. Thus, it is not wise to play "big band" or Frank Sinatra 78's on any pre-1929 acoustic phonograph. 78 RPM records were produced up until 1958, so many that you come across are too new for your Victor phonograph.
We are not record experts, and have no information on the value of records other than to say that 99.9% of 78RPM Victor (and other brand) records are worth no more than $1 each in good condition, and many are worth less than that. That hurts a lot of people's feelings, but it's absolutely true. They made hundreds of millions of records in the Victrola era, and mountains of them are still around, so the prices are quite low. We usually find our records by the boatload at flea markets and swap meets. We typically buy them by the box (usually for $5 or less), and sift through them later, pulling out the good ones for use in demonstrating machines, or as examples to give to our customers when the buy a phonograph from us. Thus far, we have yet to come across a "rare" one that was worth more than a few bucks. Certainly some rare ones are out there someplace, but not with anything we have ever found.
Reminder: Steel needles were designed to be used ONLY ONCE, and should be removed and discarded after every play. Using a worn needle will cause rapid record wear. New needles can be bought from the sources listed on the RESOURCES page.
An older gentleman recently drove up to a phonograph show in a Ford F-150 full of old 78 records in wood milk crates. He started asking $10 for each record, and by lunch time, his price was down to $5 per crate. When we left the show, he was selling them for $2 per crate...and still had a hard time finding takers. He was heartbroken, as he thought he really had something. Those records just don't have a lot of value.